Brian and Helen have a disagreement.
"Saturday night, George was alone when he arrived at The Ship Inn. As usual, he was smartly dressed in a suit and tie, and highly polished shoes, looking slightly old fashioned but confident and mature. He stopped at the table where Helen and her friends were sitting and greeted the girls.
"Isn't Brian with you?" one of the girls asked.
"Not tonight," he replied. "He's started going with some of the railway lads to the Mecca Ballroom in Birmingham."
Helen looked concerned but remained quiet. One of her friends answered. "Birmingham! That's bloody miles away."
"Well, he must think it's worth it. They get the train Saturday afternoon and don't come back until Sunday morning."
Another of the girls looked across to Helen. "You'll have to put a stop to that."
"I don't own him. He can do what he likes," Helen said.
"Yes, he does do as he likes, don't he," she replied. "He only comes to see you once a week and that's usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday when there's nothing going on."
"I see him on Sundays as well."
"Oh yeah, he leaves his mates at the bar for half an hour, has a few dances with you and then goes back to his mates. He doesn't even see you home."
"Listen, I'm quite happy with it all right. And I don't see what it's bloody well got to do with you anyway."
"All right keep your wig on. I am on your side, aren't I?"
George stood grinning at Helen. She looked back at him and gave a brief false smile. "You can go now", she said. George gave a laugh and walked off to get a drink.
I was beginning to get the idea Helen wanted to seduce me. When we were alone in the front parlour of her house I was quite happy but when things seemed to be getting steamy I would remember the disaster with Amanda. My previous girlfriend, Norma, always prevented any sexual contact. I wanted Helen to do the same saving me from possible disgrace if it all went wrong. I worried that if we did try to become lovers my inexperience would show and I could make myself look pathetic again. What would I do then? How could I face her again? And worse, I was in love with her and feared she might just look for love elsewhere. I knew I was fit and healthy, but when things became torrid I would start to worry and the more I worried the worse it all became.
Sunday night, we had a few dances at Minstrels before I took Helen's hand and began walking towards her friends.
"I'll meet you on Wednesday and we'll pop round to my sister's. She wants to meet you. You don't mind, do you?"
Helen stopped walking. "Are you going back to your mates?" she asked.
"Well, I was, yeah."
"Can't you stay with me?"
"Course I can. I just thought you wanted to be with the girls for a while."
"Brian, I don't want to be with the girls, I want to be with you."
We walked from the dance floor and sat at a table. Helen sat drumming her fingers on the table to the sound of Paint It Black blasting from the disc jockey’s speakers. She was humming to the beat and looking out across the dance floor at the many couples dancing.
She’s getting bored, I thought. There's something on her mind; say something you idiot. "I'm eighteen next Sunday," I blurted out, almost shouting over the sound of the music.
"I know, you told me last week. Don't worry, I won't forget."
"I should get my next motorbike soon."
"I might see a bit more of you then?"
I smiled at her. "You sound like my sister."
"Your sister, oh thanks," she remarked and didn't return my smile. "Talking of your sister, can you stay at her house tonight? Only I'd like you to walk me home."
"All right, you'll be able to show me off a bit, won't you?"
"Shut up, big head," she said but still, she wasn't smiling. "Oh, how was Birmingham by the way?"
"Birmingham! How'd you know I've been to Birmingham?"
"I was talking to your friend George the other night and he said that you often go to the Mecca Ballroom in Birmingham with some railway lads."
"Helen, I only went there a few times for a laugh with the lads from work. I don't mess around with other girls. I'm not interested. I'm in love with you."
"Good, that's all I wanted to hear." She picked up her glass and gave me a long-awaited smile before taking a drink.
When we got to Helen's house her sister and parents had already gone to bed. Helen took me into the front parlour and we sat on the sofa. Our lips met and erotic sensations were rushing through our bodies as we pulled closely against each other, but it was not long until I thought she was becoming over-excited and I pulled away from her and stood up.
"I'd better go," I said. "It's really late; my sister'll go mad when I wake her up."
"Bloody hell, can't you stay a little bit longer?" Helen pleaded.
"No, I won't get much sleep as it is. There'll be other times, but I really must get going." Helen jumped up and stormed across to open the front door. "I'll call round for you on Wednesday," I said as I left the house but Helen gave no response apart from slamming the door as soon as I stepped through it.
She's been in a mood all night, I thought. Something's going wrong here. There must be a reason why she is being so hostile. Is it because she wants more from me? That must be it. Perhaps it is time I acted a bit more mature. But I won't let her push me into anything until I am ready. We'll see how it goes. Yeah, the time is not right yet.
I arrived at Helen's house on Wednesday night and we set off towards the town centre.
"Are we still going to your sister's?"
"Yeah, she's expecting us."
"I feel a bit nervous. Do you think she'll like me?"
I laughed. "Of course she will but we won't stay long. We'll call there first, then go down The Ship for a drink."
"Or we can forget the drink and go back to my house. My mum and dad are going out and our Trish is off to the pictures."
"No, I'll have to go home about half nine. I've an early start at work tomorrow."
"Bloody hell, Brian!" Helen stopped walking and stared at me. "Come on, we can have a night in. We can watch the tele' together."
"I just told you, I have to go home early and I don't like watching television anyway."
"Well, we don't have to watch the bloody tele' do we?"
"What's the point then?"
"What's the point! What's the bloody point! What the hell do you mean by that?"
"I've planned to see my sister then have a drink. We haven't got time for anything else tonight. I can't risk being late for work tomorrow." I looked down the street then took hold of her hand as an indication to continue walking and we continued in silence.
It was not long until Helen stopped walking again and let go of my hand. "Is there something wrong with me?" she said.
I looked back at her. "Of course not. I just have to leave early."
"Well can I see you tomorrow night or Friday?"
"I've made arrangements to go out with the lads."
"Oh, no. I'm not having this. You're not being fair. Do you want to go out with me or not? We just don't seem to be getting anywhere. You're out with your bloody mates all the time."
"Don't try to tell me what to do. I'll go out with my mates when I like. If you don't like it then you might as well just go back home now."
"What is that supposed to mean? Do you want to finish with me? Is that what you're saying?"
"Just don't ask me to choose between you and my mates because you might come second."
"Oh, thanks a lot. You really know how to make a girl feel special, don't you?" She turned her back on me and walked off towards her house.
I stood looking for a few seconds before walking away. What a cheek, I thought. Why do they want to control you? Badger's right, all they want to do is settle down and get married. Well, not this boy there's plenty of time for all that.
The front door was unlocked at my sister's house and I called out as I walked in. My sister, Linda, was bottle-feeding my nephew. She looked up as I walked in and then looked as if she were looking past me, looking for someone else.
"Where is she then?" Linda asked.
"We've had a row. I've finished with her."
"Sod it, I was looking forward to meeting her. Well, what happened?"
"She was getting too clingy."
"Oh, I see. I suppose you've been treating her like your last girlfriend?"
"Norma! I treated her all right. I was good to her."
"What was it, five or six months you went out with her? And in all that time you hardly ever took her out on a Friday or Saturday night."
"Well, that's how it is at weekends. The boys go out and have a laugh and a drink."
"Sometimes I think you're very immature, Brian."
"No, I'm not. I was going in pubs when I was sixteen."
"There's more to life than going in pubs, you want to grow up a bit. If I were you I'd get round to her house and apologise to the girl."
"Why are you on her side? I'm your brother you should be on my side."
Linda shook her head. "I can see I'm wasting my time. Here, hold your nephew while I make a drink."
"Oh, Linda, you know I don't like holding babies."
I knew I had been wrong and my sister's attitude confirmed it. I thought about Helen walking away from me and it was all my fault. I hoped I had not upset her too much. I knew I was in love with her but I was worried because I was always so nervous when alone with her. It was that what was spoiling things between us and I must do something to change things before it was too late. But I had stupidly stood there and let the most wonderful and popular girl I have ever known walk away from me. Maybe it was too late already.