by Gary O’Connor
From up here I can see Annabelle’s house, one of many little grey boxes clinging to the opposite hillside. I haven’t thought about Annabelle for years, in my mind I try and picture her: her long mousey hair and her cheeky grin, the pleated skirts she always wore and the dark blue socks pulled up to her knees. I was best of friends with her brother Paul. I spent a lot of time in that house.
We would have these mad pillow fights, the three of us, up and down the stairs and in and out of the bedrooms. I so desperately wanted to be alone with Annabelle, but it seemed impossible.
Paul’s bedroom was at the top of the house, it was separated by a partition wall from a smaller attic-room where Paul kept old toys, books and other stuff. One afternoon Paul was occupied in the attic-room and Annabelle and I was left sitting on the edge of his bed. Soon we were rolling around fumbling with buttons and zips – freezing with fear at every little sound in case Paul would appear at the door or worse still, Annabelle’s mother would ascend the stairs.
That afternoon we did our best to loose our innocence but no mater how much pushing and thrusting we did, it just wouldn’t happen.
Looking back, I guess it was for the best… In fact I’m glad because it fills me with dread when I think of the possible consequences, if we had succeeded.
A few days later Paul told me he had been watching us through a hole he had made in the partition wall.
by Celina Macdonald
It’s been near a year now,
trying not to turn you into poetry
and have your image fade from my mind
at the expense of a cheap verse.
That night I was too busy trying
to choose which version of myself to be
to best impress you.
Then you were gone
leaving yourself emblazoned
in my memory
daydreams where I see all the secrets
we shared that night
with our eyes.
Yet I know
the time we spent
less significant from your eyes
may live only in my memory
I, a girl you have forgotten.
by Nicole Warne
My first love would have to be when I first laid eyes on the two words ‘Gary Pepper’. People always speak about seeing their first love for the first time and suddenly the world aligns and your perspective completely changes. Well, that is how I felt when I finally found what was going to be the name of my business, brand and blog for the next few years. It changed me as a person and made me become who I am today. Without that first love I really don’t know where I’d be today.
by Jessica Williams
I had this day dream
I’m solid / strong / dark
but you’re holding a flashlight
the beam cuts through everything
and you’re smiling at me
by Rachel Watson
I love clichés about love, especially first ones. Mine was a chap with big hair and a small willy, but I didn’t really care because I loved him and we waited a bit to make sure we didn’t just annoy each other until we did it so the smallness was something I only found out about later. It wasn’t really an issue, I just like the juxtaposition of it against his big hair.
He liked to think he could play guitar and would bring out its vulgar shiny blue monstrousness frequently, sitting on his sofa in front of the picture window overlooking the bay. I’d sit in awe, not of his guitar playing because I knew my singing was better than it, but of his fabulous maturity because he was a UNIVERSITY STUDENT and I was just a sixth former.
He kissed me often and very well, I remember thinking that this was how MEN kissed and that boys were ridiculous and not worth the effort. I was a very silly teenager, but I didn’t really care because I loved him and he laughed when I said funny things and held my hand around his friends and didn’t feel odd about it. We used to listen to one particular band almost all the time, he talked about them a lot, telling me how edgy and groundbreaking their basslines were and what make of cymbals the drummer used, and despite the enormous and jaded fame they’ve attained in the years since, their songs still raise a smile and a deep-seated and often moist hankering for the time.
He was rich. I didn’t really care because I loved him and seventeen year old girls don’t need money to live on, it just meant that he had a big granny flat over his garage in which I stayed as his mum was pretend-posh even though she grew up in Toxteth or Aigburth or somewhere like that and wouldn’t let us sleep in the same room. I’d lie strategically languorously, a curtain slightly open so it was just light enough and wait for the creak that meant he’d snuck out from the main house. Then we’d shag and feel invincible and like the first people in the world that had ever shagged sneakily in the middle of the night and everything else that teenagers make drama from was pushed to the back of my head and laughing throatily during shags made me Gina Lollobrigida, Brigitte Bardot and Lucrezia Borgia all rolled into one fabulously desirable woman.
One day, after one such sneaky night, I sat on the picture window sofa still cringing from the Beverly Hills 90210 nose job/blow job in front of the pretend-posh mum debacle from the day before. The vulgar shiny blue monstrosity was being strummed gently beside me and I was told, quite abruptly, that I wasn’t loved anymore, my strategic languorousness was no longer needed and did I want a lift home?
The everything else that teenagers make drama from reached new heights in the time shortly after that. He had loved me, I knew that, because that time I got outrageously drunk at a ball and embarrassed him and he had to take me home and undress me and put me to bed, I was wearing a saucy corset under my ballgown which couldn’t fail to arouse him irretrievably. He had loved me, I knew that, because of the time before we were together this time, which was the second time, when we sat on the phone for four hours after not seeing eachother for two years and it was positively Shakespearean. He had loved me, I knew that, because I visited him at UNIVERSITY and met all his friends and they liked me and laughed when I said funny things and didn’t mind that I got outrageously drunk at their ball. He had loved me, I knew that, because he said so. Then he forgot.
He finished UNIVERSITY, then went flying helicopters in the Royal Navy, which is what he’d always wanted. In the years since this great tragic love, I’ve frequently thought about him, frequently hoped he’s well and happy. That’s how I know I did actually love him, over and above teenage infatuation and drama, which is something I was really great at. In my darkest moments during my own time at UNIVERSITY, I wrote to him. I’m still not sure why, or what I hoped to achieve, and I’m sure he really enjoyed the letter and laughed when I wrote funny things and didn’t once think I was a little unhinged and was quite glad he didn’t have a pet bunny. It was a goodtime. A very goodtime, and I’m almost sure I’ve never loved anyone in quite the same way since.
I love clichés about love, and I am one, a great big one.
by Stuart Alexander
My first love lived with her parents, sister and two brothers and just went on and on about her piano and cameras and sniffing glue. Once we heard a crunching sound emanating from the two mobile phone towers that the house backed on to and found a tortoise crunching up bones in it’s mouth. We couldn’t tell what kind of creature the bones came from. She wrote “Heidi runs away” on a date on her parents calendar which everyone thought was quaint and funny. Then she actually did run away in her pajamas and was found wandering around London, still in her pajamas and covered in bruises, she said she’d had a great time. Another time we went to the sea and talked about King Knut and how he was right all along because if Moses can do it anyone can. We collected the sea in 7 different jars and labelled them all after the seven seas as if we’d traveled to all of them, but it’s all the same sea really, I still have the jars but my new girlfriend smashed the Arctic by accident when she was washing her mask. When we broke up after only 6 months we were sitting on a bench by the tennis club where my dad played tennis with a paedophile and she told me she didn’t want to go out anymore. Whilst we were talking the newsreader Michael Burke Jr drove past in a Jaguar. After we broke up I fabricated a plan with her best friend to get her back, her best friends who was in love with me but kept sleeping with her deaf cousin. The plan was that she would go around to Heidi’s parents house and talk about how great I was to her parents and sister and brothers and hope that this would trickle down, that they would pass on these facts to Heidi herself. I guess they never did pass it on because they moved away. The last time I heard Heidi was an abortion nurse and one of her brothers had died whilst on holiday on Rhodes. He died in a car crash as the roads in Rhodes are not safe and are full of cracks with no real barriers. She is now married to a man with the last name “Read” which is interesting because last time I saw her she never actually learned to.
Less than Infinity
the whole book
is just the word ‘love’
but on page 43,
near the bottom
it says ‘rat’
and my heart does a little sink
by Terese Storey
by Steve McPherson
A hand that leads
Light rain on a tin roof
The scratch of dry hay through a blanket
A possibility through a darkened window
Slow footsteps of a passer by
The silent anticipation of a moment
Summer steam rising from the concrete
The longing for an endless season
by Thom Hudson
I fear that what I am about to write will instil in you, the reader; the perception that I am a deeply pessimistic and bewilderingly strange person, for my first love is not for a human being. Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to write about some sordid fetish, however my experience of love centres on specific places and locations.
The process of compiling a body of work that describes the deeply personal subject of love requires a high degree of self reflection and honesty. I could quite easily waffle on about my first girlfriend or my former fiancé and the gut full of butterflies I obtained with both of those encounters, but to do so would render me being dishonest to you and myself.
The places I am referring to reside entirely in my memories. Whether childhood or recent these recollections ache with melancholy and have a stark pungency to them that tears me away from reality and back to be reabsorbed in their atmospheres. The pull of these memories and the subsequent desire to return to these cherished places can at times be overwhelming, so overwhelming in fact that it has in the past destroyed significant relationships.
The reason I work as a photographic artist is due to my rather odd perception of love. Most people’s concept of love lies in the present and future tenses. For instance, normal people stay with each other because they enjoy living in the “now” with their partners and they feel fear when they consider their future without that special person. However, my idea of love is firmly rooted in the past and is in short due to my inability to appreciate the “now”. This I feel is an inherent problem with my, and future generations; we are devastatingly confused with what the hell is going on in the world today and where in this overwhelmingly bizarre time we fit. Due to this feeling and also the general unpredictable and unreliable nature of people I can only rely on significant places as a focus for my so called love.
Photographs are also objects that live almost entirely in the past; they embody my outlook on love and are therefore the perfect tool for recording the places that I revisit. This is how most of my work is created, by revisiting and reconnecting with locations from my memories and recording them photographically, or using the picture taking process to find new “special” places. The photograph is a tiny fragment of time that is snatched from reality and stored on film. Once taken this piece of time is forever falling further away into the past, getting ever more distant and irretrievable. Thus when we view a photograph, no matter how happy or sad the memory, we are hit with a pang of melancholy that hollows out our hearts.
This is how I view my memories, as photographs of places and times that I cannot reach. It is true that I can go back to these places, but it is never quite right, something is delicately different and subtly illusive. But I set up my camera and record the scene anyway, desperately trying to recapture something of the memory that drove me to return.