"First Love"

We were teenage innocents

Love birds

Learning the language of

Love words


Huddled close against the winter chill

Holding hands in the shelter

Watching for her last bus

The nine o five

Three four seven

To turn from Lord Street, Southport

Onto Marine Drive 

To swallow her away

Home to Rufford,

near Ormskirk,



Wanting it to come soon…



………. not just yet


Back row nights at the Odeon,

Sharing popcorn - fingers linking

Shoulder brushing tantalising shoulder

Plucking courage to kiss

But scared of fumbling

Dared not miss.


Shirley liked Cary Grant and Doris Day

and I said, "me too"

Like you do.

But I only liked her.


After the film


Bunking out quick beating the Anthem

Giggling down Lord Street


Black coffee at the Kardomah for me

Hot chocolate (extra sugar)

Toasted teacake, with butter

For Shirley

Nothing was too much for her

(When I had the necessary)


She was a good girl

A sensible girl


Had the keys to the shop in her purse

And a future.


I dealt hash and speed when I could

But took much more than I sold.


I lived on the streets

By my wits and

Somehow survived.


We may have become lovers

We had plans to start courting

When I got a flat

When I got a job

When I was presentable


Suitable for high tea at her parents'

In Rufford,

Near Ormskirk



We may even have been lovers

I cannot recall

We spent just one night together

I was high and hallucinating…

Talking gibberish...


That…is something…I can… recall.


In time the bombers wasted me

My blood turned septic

My teeth rotted

My body fell apart.

Shirley could not take

My craziness

My drug excess

And said “It’s time to make the final break”


I glimpsed her nibbling a delicate Danish 

at 'our' table in the Kardomah window

With her new bloke

Steady - name of Peter

He had a job

Could afford to treat her


She saw me too

Waved – the merest flutter

Wiped a discreet tear from her cheek

And a crumb from the corner of her mouth


I shrugged and, sad, hitched back south.


I heard she was in the family way

I could not say.

I did not think that mattered

That much then

So many years ago.


If I saw her now

Would I know her now?


She stole my heart 

When I was a mess

And Shirley wasn’t.








◄ "Meeting Mrs Potiphar"

"Labour in Vain" ►


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Rick Gammon

Sun 25th Sep 2016 09:34

I searched for 'Shirley' for most of 50 years - no trace - I even travelled to Fleetwood following up a dead lead. Not a trace of her could be found.
Two days after writing this poem and full of nostalgic tears and emotions I gave facebook one last try - mispelled her surname and up she popped.
We are fb friends ?

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