|Hollingworth Lake, not by moonlight|
Like many geeky teenagers, to be honest I had very little experience of the opposite sex when 14 or 15, but age 11, before the confusions and complexities of secondary school, I did indeed have a girlfriend, Helen Margaret Shadforth. I only really have two memories of her. One is evoked by a little handwritten letter (they were back then) which clearly came when our grand age-11 passion was fading, as Helen says 'I don't suppose you want to go to the cinema, but if you do there is the new Dr Who film on at the Odeon.' Oh, fickle youth. But the outstanding flashbulb memory is the kiss.
Helen lived near to Hollingworth Lake, a local beauty spot near Littleborough in Lancashire where I was brought up. Technically a reservoir for the nearby canal, it is nonetheless a pleasant location. It was night time and the two of us walked around to the back of the lake. This was a non-trivial outing. We aren't talking a London-style boating lake, this thing is about a kilometre across. I'm not sure I'd ever been round the back of the lake - most of the activities took place at the front, but round the back was a rather lonely little playground.
We sat on a roundabout or swings or some such thing (come on, this is distant memory), and a big moon was out in a clear sky - or at least that's what my probably semi-fictional memory tells me, and there we kissed. I can't remember what I thought of this, because when we had wandered back, we were in terrible trouble for wandering off after dark on our own and this wiped out any details. But first kiss it was. And I just hope Helen remembers it still too.
Picture by I, Carelesshx from Wikipedia