Tuesday 3 November 2015

First timers

My blogmate John was looking back at all the memorable "first times" in his life, so I thought I would shamelessly plagiarise him with my own list of unfor-gettable "firsties":

  • Going vegetarian. Two gay vegetarian friends persuaded me to go veggie in 1975. I've often considered going vegan but I'm just too fond of cheese.
  • Passing my driving test. I was absurdly nervous as I took my final driving lesson, but come the test I was mysteriously super-cool and passed easily.
  • Meeting Jenny. We were both working in a central London bookshop at the time, and we clicked instantly. Thirty four years later we still love each other to bits.
  • Flight in a light aircraft. A school friend's mum owned a light aircraft and took me up for a flight. It was both scary and exciting.
  • Seeing a corpse. At a mortuary when I was a local newspaper reporter. It was a young woman who had killed herself. A very strange sight.
  • Having sex. Aged 22 with a beautiful woman who loved Janis Joplin, cannabis, long floaty dresses and everything about the sixties counter-culture.
  • The debut Beatles record. "Love Me Do". The start of an incredible musical phenomenon. I was always desperate for their next release.
  • The Isle of Wight Music Festival in 1969. Waiting impatiently for Bob Dylan and queuing endlessly for everything amid the chaos of tents and rubbish.
  • My first day at work. In 1965 smoking in offices was normal and I virtually suffocated from the thick fug of tobacco smoke. Alarmingly, I soon got used to it.
  • My first pay packet. In those days you got an envelope stuffed with cash. I couldn't quite believe I was being paid for rustling up news stories.
  • Arriving in Australia. Drinking in every detail of the scenery as the taxi took us from the airport over the Tasman Bridge to our apartment in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • First visit to Venice with Jenny*. More scenery-drinking as a water taxi took us along the canals and past the amazing old palazzos and churches to our hotel.
  • Arriving in Belfast. My first holiday in Northern Ireland (Jenny was there as a child), and I loved the people and the scenery. We moved there in 2000.
* I went there as a child with my parents and sister


  1. Great list and idea! While I was reading, I could picture in my mind similar firsts that must be universal (first flight, etc.)

  2. Bijoux: Great idea, isn't it? You could always give it a go yourself....

  3. agree with bijoux.
    what fun.
    i'll have to think about all my firsts.
    i remember my first jet flight very well. i contemplated whether to tell the 'stewardess' ... remember when they were called that?
    i was wondering whether to tell her that the wing had just broken off.
    when of course it was the flap i was seeing that mechanically dropped.
    my husband was a private pilot... and i well knew about flaps. that made it silly of me. i had just never watched it go down before... right outside my window!

  4. Tammy: Somehow my first jet flight wasn't as thrilling as my flight in a light aircraft. And my very first flight was in a small plane from Lympne in Kent to Paris. Lympne isn't a commercial airfield any longer.

    I like your concern about the apparent collapsing wing! What always bothers me slightly is any obvious change in the engine sound. Could this mean the engine is about to fail? But in general I have no fear of flying whatever. The safety standards for planes are incredibly tough.

  5. Loved the list.....glad i inspired it

  6. Thanks for that, John!

  7. I still remember the excitement of my first plane trip --- from San Francisco to San Diego --- when I was a college sophomore. My second was life-altering. I had never been out of California except for a few trips across the border to Nevada, then I flew to Germany for two quarters of my junior year. Needless to say, we did a lot of traveling. I had a mind-boggling load of physics my senior year to make up for the experience, but it was worth it. I ended up deciding not to get my PhD. but to earn some money so I could do a lot more traveling. It worked out well, a good decision.

  8. Most informative list. Got me thinking, must do one myself. Soon.

    Lists and me. Love lists.


  9. Jean: Travelling is always exciting, there are so many extraordinary experiences. My mother and sister have hardly been out of the UK but I've been to Canada, the USA, Australia, and several European countries. I'd love to travel some more but it's an expensive hobby!

    www: Yes, you must do a similar list....

  10. I added another first - my first day at work - as the choking fug of tobacco smoke virtually finished me off. Thank goodness smoking in offices is now banned.

  11. Great list.
    Nice idea and maybe it might help me resume blogging after my long absence.

  12. Grannymar: I'd love to see all your most memorable first timers!

  13. When I started writing about flying to UK from Auckland when I was just 17 - I remembered it wasn't a great time - I was sick nearly all the way there, a straight through flight with a number fuel stops!

    First job, Marks & Spencers @ St Albans as the casual Xmas Sales asst - so much fun, in charge of a kiosk that sold ladies knickers!!! As a 17 year old, hard to decipher when a guy would say "my wife is about that size, what size should I get her?" - I bet there were a lot of returns come January!!!

    Moving to London and working at Bourne & Hollingsworth - then other stores over the few years I was in UK including John Lewis also on Oxford Street

    Must be many more firsts - either exciting or just plain not...

  14. Cathy: I used to be car-sick as a kid, until I told myself not to be - and it actually worked!

    I'm baffled by men who simply guess their wife's size in underwear and don't check the exact fit. Do they really expect their wife will magically re-size to whatever they've bought her?