1969 - School life and I didn’t get on much. I could never really get used to the ordered days with the same routine. I was a daydreamer who spent his time in the farthest reaches of his imagination. Sitting in the same seat at the same desk, beside the same kids, in the same classroom, with the same teacher every day, was not for me. I couldn’t wait for the three o’clock school bell to ring to get out into the world and have fun.
There were three things that kept me going through the ordeal of school: My mates, playing football and gaining the attentions of the girls in my class. I was after the ladies, even at five years old, the age when I first fell in love.
Her name was Diane and I walked home from Nettlefield Primary School with her every day. We would walk hand in hand the way young lovers do and when we arrived at her house I would give her a puckered-lip kiss and say goodbye. Diane lived at number 32 and so did I. With such synchronicity as that it could be nothing else but love. That was until I met Julie the following year. Julie was a real woman - six years old with the body of a woman of seven.
The relationship with Julie was much more intense than with Diane to the point that one day at lunchtime in the Nettlefield playground, we decided to get married. We were two six year olds madly in love so marriage was the next obvious step. After all, those are the steps you are supposed to take - Girlfriend, Marriage and Family.
Julie and I set a date for the wedding – it was to be the following day after school. We went back into the classroom after lunch break and informed the whole class we were getting married tomorrow outside Ravenhill Presbyterian Church at the top of my street. Everyone in the class seemed very excited for us, two young lovers about to embark on the journey of married life.
The following day was the big day. Julie's friend Ellen got fully into the spirit of the occasion and came into school wearing an actual bridesmaid’s dress instead of her school uniform. The teacher asked what on earth she was doing and Ellen informed her that she was going to be bridesmaid at Ian and Julie's wedding. The teacher went into a fit of laughter and wished us all well for the big day. Ellen sat in class the whole day doing her school work in her bridesmaid dress.
After school the wedding party consisting of about ten kids from our school class walked to Ravenhill Presbyterian Church and climbed over the railings and into the church grounds. There were a few yelps and screams as many of us caught body parts on the railings, but we all made it eventually made it into the grounds without too much injury.
The wedding party walked up a set of steps to the front door of the church which was locked. This was to be however an open air service. One of the boys Noel was given the job of being the minister, a role he took very serious. He coughed and began the ceremony. Noel asked me in his most serious voice, "d'ya take this wumman to be yer wife?" I replied "Ah do". He asked Julie if she’d like to marry me and she replied in a posh voice “Ay do”. I gave Julie a ring as a symbol of my true love and devotion – it was a ring with a monster’s head on it and was a treasured possession of mine. She on the other hand went one better by giving me her grandfather's actual wedding ring which she had stolen from her mother's treasured possessions.
The ring had to be returned a couple of days later when Julie's mother discovered that her dead father's wedding ring had been given away to a six-year old boy...and so ended our marriage, but to us it was two fantastic days as husband and wife.