It was towards the middle of a particularly cold February one year that George found himself covering for players off sick on a Sunday, the day designated for the incredibly challenging but rewarding sport that is ‘mixed hockey’. Still very competitive, in some cases more so than the men’s game, where playing in the lower echelons meant more running and covering for one or two older colleagues, who found it hard to break into or sustain a run for more than a few seconds.
That Sunday, George found himself having to change shirts, not because an opponent had ripped it off his back, but had been asked to play for the opposition, who were desperately short of team members. He was reluctant to part with the thicker green home cotton shirt in favour of some flimsy black and crimson summer shirt said to be ‘the only spare’ the opposition had. At any rate, the game continued and by the end of the game, he could no longer feel his hands, although the shock travelling up the stick could be felt more readily when he mishit the ball. The result was immaterial as ever to most and the fun and laughter reverberated long into the changing room afterwards. The entrance from there to the large bar area, where a few tables were scattered around the edge, was blocked by a voice. “That was impressive!” it said, “As was the change of strip midway through the game.”
Forced to look down to excuse himself so that he could pass through, he noticed shoulder-length hair couching a rounded face with a broad smile attached. “Was this girl actually talking to him?” George thought. He had no time to respond before more of the same “I didn’t realise you played for the mixed team.”
“I only started this year,” offered George, still a little dumbstruck by the unusual happening. This was the first time this had happened to him. He had to think rapidly on his feet, as he’d surely known how to speak to his peers and his male teammates, but a girl …
Fumbling for topics, he left for the tea that had been laid on and a drink found its way over to his table – a shandy, which always sent bubbles up his nose. He only hoped that his eyes did not water as they did on other occasions. Feeling still surprised at the encounter, he slipped off to the toilets and on his return, was taken aback again to find the same girl waiting to greet him and the conversation began in a more earnest and open way, talking about pop music and other likes.
“Well I have to be getting back,” George excused himself as he stood up, “I have a six mile ride ahead of me.”
“Can I walk back with you as I have to take the same road for a bit?”
“Of course,” he uttered, remembering the accepted practice of ‘seeing a girl home’, especially when the darkness drew in earlier.
So they left the building together and he saw her to her road before pushing off from the kerb with lightness, which he had not experienced before.
It is curious how experience moulds our actions, reactions and expectations of what is to come.
This first volume in a trilogy gives an account of how one boy grows up in the safety of a Spartan, but loving home and the freedoms afforded so easily to those who have so little. Part of that growing up is the introduction into the life equation of encounters with girls young and older. Haunted by the spectre of his first school bus journey to ‘big school’, the suppressed tears make him incandescent with inner rage.
This is the story of how one boy’s opinion was turned, obstacles overcome and how a young man’s expectations were raised and confounded in equal measure.
About the Author
Peter Massam is a writer who captures a moment in time, a location, events or human interactions that have shaped his life and experiences that have been instrumental in managing the journey.
His previous publications are as a poet and technical author. More recently, the Cuz Collection brought together poetry and complementary sketches and images.
The first collection of short sketch poems captures the motivations behind the urge to draw a scene or capture a moment which sparks observations or symbolises a trend in attitudes or simply celebrates a moment of beauty or an historical event.
The second collection reflects on the plant choices made in a country garden over eleven years and the memories they evoke from child to adulthood.
A technical book began this journey to help two opposite sides value each other's domain for the good of the Customer, highlighting the importance of what was to become a permanent agenda item at board level - Customer Experience.
First Cuz Collection of Poems
Sketch Poems (2019; Audible 2020)
Second Cuz Collection of Poems
Reflections in a Country Garden (2021)
Managing Service Level Quality across Wireless and Fixed Networks (2007)