Mon | Aug 20, 2018

The one that got away

Published:Tuesday | December 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Guys, we all remember the girl that got away.

It matters not that God knows best and subsequent events have proven this wasn't the right girl for us. It matters not that we eventually find 'Miss Right' and enter into a beautiful, loving, caring and lasting relationship. Still, we occasionally fool ourselves by recalling the girl that got away.

Mine was the object of a high school crush named Rosie Hall. The Old Ball and Chain's (BC) eyes are already rolling up into her forehead as the name is mentioned because she habitually greets the reference with a chortle followed by "You mean the girl you drove into the Nunnery?"

Maybe so. Rosie did tell me she wanted to become a Nun and, in error, I once told Old BC who has never let me forget. Ambition can be diverted, but I was too stupid to try. It was 1969; fifth form, Campion College; a time of innocence. I was vice-president of Campion's Drama Society (shared with all-girls Sts Peter and Paul) and director of the schools' entry for the annual Drama Festival.

The play was written by a popular lay Jesuit named Brother Kacynzkas (first name indecipherable; my spelling of surname probably wrong) who, for obvious reasons, we simply called "Ernie", and was set in olde England (Nottingham Forest to be precise). Sts Peter and Paul sent their best young actresses to participate. Of course, they brought friends.

One such was Rosie, a tall, gangly soft-spoken girl with a lilting American accent; potential to be beautiful (if she was a filly, I'd say she had lots of scope to grow into her frame); and the personality of an angel. I fell hard and fast. But, as we all say, "If I knew then what I know now ..." Then, I was very shy (still am) and self-conscious (that ship sailed 75 pounds ago) and incapable of approaching any girl with any sort of indecent proposal.

Time together

Still, we had fun at parties, rehearsals and generally hanging out. My Drama Society friends tried hard with me. Male lead, John Bacquie, of blessed memory, who put the "ham" in "shameless", arrived at rehearsal as the fifth Beatle singing lustily:

"She loves you, yeah yeah yeah

She loves you, yeah yeah yeah

She loves you, yeah yeah yeah yeah

You think you've lost your love.

Well, I saw her yesterday.

It's you she's thinking of

and she told me what to say.

She says she loves you

and you know that can't be bad.

Yes, she loves you

and you know you should be glad."

Your half-witted scribe told him "shut up and get to work!"

One day, the gang (including stage manager, professional hanger-around-wherever-there-were-girls and one of the funniest guys I ever met, Michael Espeut; Rosie; Mario Miret, whose qualification as gang member was a driver's licence AND a car; and one of the actresses, a wonderful girl whose name escapes my alzheimered brain) was stuffed in Mario's Mini going God knows where when this came on the radio:

"Cracklin' Rosie, get on board

We're gonna ride till there ain't no more to go;

taking it slow;

Lord, don't you know.

Have made me a time with a poor man's lady.

Hitchin' on a twilight train

Ain't nothing here that I care to take along

Maybe a song

To sing when I want

Don't need to say please to no man for a happy tune

Oh, I love my Rosie child.

You got the way to make me happy.

You and me, we go in style...."

Thus began my lifetime love affair with Neil Diamond. Whenever that song is played and I'm singing along lustily, Old BC looks at me askance and accuses me of channelling my old girlfriend. No matter how much I protest; how many times I say the song is about a bottle of rose; she knows better.

Rosie grew up in America. Her parents were Jamaicans who wanted her to know "home", so they sent her to high school in Jamaica. After fifth form, she was recalled. As a parting gift, she gave me a copy of The Jackson 5's I'll Be There, which has since been entrenched in my top ten favourite songs and is the genesis of my apathy towards Mariah Carey who butchered it years later. I've just replied to Jamaica Jazz and Blues declining its offer of 'early bird' tickets to 2015's festival featuring Mariah. I've suggested they book Neil Diamond for 2016.

Peace and Love.

n Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to