cassette tapeI’ve never been confident with the opposite sex. Not in a ‘oh my gawd, I can’t talk to men’ way but, thanks to some pretty cruel bullying at school, I just never expected any of them to find me attractive.

Anyhoo, when I was in my twenties I was working as a computer programmer in the Civil Service and one of my team members asked my to accompany him to a concert. We argued a bit over who would pay and I ended up saying no because I didn’t really like the artist (I can’t even remember who it was now). I assumed he was asking me as a friend. We were friends, had been since I started working with him, and I liked him. We would blether away and I’d often give him a lift to the train station. But it never once occurred to me that he had other feelings for me.

I continued in this ignorance for a few more weeks until one day at home time, he handed me a cassette. He had written me a song and wanted me to listen to it as it would explain what he felt.I was flabbergasted. I took the tape, mumbled something or other and went home.

That evening I looked at the cassette. I thought about the cassette. I thought about the song he’d recorded – written – just for me. This was something I had fantasied about. I was fairly musical myself; I played piano, euphonium, trombone, tuba, clarinet and sax, was a member of a couple of orchestras and wrote music for fun. What could be more romantic than to have a song written for me? So I looked at the cassette some more. And I thought about it some more. And the next day in work I took it back and handed it to my friend without saying anything to him. I hadn’t listened to it and my friend wasn’t my friend any more.

I told this story to my daughter a year or so ago and she called my a big meanie. She couldn’t believe the way I behaved. Why didn’t I listen to it?

There were a few reasons, I told her. I didn’t want to be manipulated into feelings I didn’t have for the chap, I was scared the song portrayed me as a right cow, I just didn’t think of him that way… Truthfully, I think I just panicked and self-preservation kicked in. At secondary school one of the ‘in’ kids had asked me out, just for the fun of it. He did it in front of his pals who just laughed and jeered and called me all the usual names. I expected my friend to be doing the same thing. I think I was wrong.

That’s in the past now. I’m happily married with a wonderful daughter and things have worked out for the best, as they usually do. I do sometimes wonder what the song was like though, and whether I have heard it without knowing it was ‘mine’. In any case, I doubt you’re reading this but Ken, I am sorry.

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