I had my eighteenth birthday in Oxford where I hardly new a soul, except for my sister, with whom I was living, and a distant and apparently sophisticated cousin, ten years my senior. When my sister threw me a surprise party, my cousin invited was pressed to invite some of his friends along to swell the numbers. One in particular caught my eye and I was well and truly smitten. The feeling appeared to be mutual and on what, to me, was one of the most preciously magical evenings of my young life, paid me lots of flattering attention and arranged to meet me again in a pub in the city. On the appointed night however, though Cinderella did indeed go to the ball, unfortunately the handsome prince just didnÕt bother to show up and I stood at the bar alone, waiting in vain.
ValentineÕs day was soon after. Still hankering after the prince, I bought a card and wrote a witty little poem inside, asking him to meet me again at the main bus stop in the city centre. He rang the moment he got the card and said heÕd definitely be there - so once again, on went the eyeliner and the lipstick and the impossible shoes, and out I went to catch a bus into town. My heart was pounding as the double decker bus lumbered down the High Street and pulled into the bus stop, and sure enough there was Prince Charming, leaning against QueenÕs College wall, with a bunch of flowers in his hand and a smile as bubbly as his footballers perm (we are talking 1976 here). He walked towards the bus and I waved down at him from the top deck window, delighted to see him.
And then I just sat there, still smiling. Everyone else got off and the queue of people waiting to board filed on. The driver started up the engine, and the bus drew back out into the street. I looked back at saw his puzzled, somewhat curdled expression, perm bristling, while the flowers in their cellophane drooped dejectedly at his side; and I turned and waved again as the bus drove off leaving him a curly speck in the distance. Revenge was sweet.
Mind you, the final revenge was his because I later married him until divorce us did thankfully part three desultory years later. Sadly, I hear he no longer has the bubble perm. But IÕve still got the pictures.