Anthony had an extraordinary mullet, wore John Lennon glasses, DM boots with black shorts and drove a VW Beetle. It was 1988. My Dad and I were visiting family in New Zealand, and I was introduced to him through my cousins. I was fifteen. My Step Mum and sister had recently died and I was in turmoil. I was rebelling left, right and centre. Anthony stumbled across my Grandparents' garden one sweaty afternoon. He tripped over on his untied shoelaces and I thought 'What a DORK.' If I'd had a mobile phone, I'd have texted my friends to tell them what a DORK he really was. The boys that I usually fell for, back in London, were arrogant, had shit-loads of Brylcream in their hair and based their look on Nick Kamen (in fact I'd recently snogged a boy who was an overweight version of Nick Kamen and had managed to do some modelling for Just 17).
As the holiday progressed I ran into a lot of trouble. I climbed out of my bedroom window late at night so I could go out drinking with my cousins. I clambered back in again and left muddy footprints all over the wall. I then tried to get myself water from the kitchen tap and tripped, falling face down into a rocking chair. This made me vomit - luckily I did this in a cereal bowl which I then left next to my bed.
My Nan was a lovely, quiet little lady who calmly picked it up the following morning and said nothing. I'm pretty sure she'd seen these type of shenanigans before, what with three grown up kids of her own. Anyway, my feelings towards Anthony slowly began to shift. Sitting in the VW, driving along, looking for entertainment (there was NOTHING to do in suburban Auckland aside from listen to loud music and smoke weed), and I grew to like him. We both loved U2 and The Smiths. I sensed an underlying sadness in him that set the benchmark for the type of man I'd go for my entire life (because it suggested hidden depths?). A few days passed and we continued hanging out. We drove to the beach at night. We looked up at The Southern Cross. Looking back, I see it like an old Bruce Springsteen song- wide roads, young love, boredom. I didn't care anymore that he looked NOTHING like Nick Kamen.
One evening there was a big house party. It was like the ones you see on American movies. Beer kegs. Kids jumping in and out of the swimming pool. AC/DC blasting out on the speakers. Anthony and I ended up entangled with one another at the bottom of the garden. The kissing was fantastic. Then I felt something hard against my thigh. We didn't go any further but it was clear- we were both travelling towards the same goal.
A couple of nights later we were at Anthony's house. I had a massive row with one of my cousins, and Anthony and I slunk away to his bedroom. We'd decided to bite the bullet. I lay flat on my back and waited in the dark as he went into the bathroom and brushed his teeth. The next thing I knew, he was running towards me - completely naked. He was a skinny person and he looked kind of comical. He then landed on top of me and started poking with the hard thing. We didn't kiss again. He just poked and this thing hit my thigh, my knee, my hip and then he tried to re-position himself once more. It was awful. Was this sex?
Eventually he stood up and attempted a second running jump. The second one knocked the wind straight out of me and I asked him whether he knew what he was doing. He shook his head. He was a virgin too. After a third leap - I gasped and told him we should wrap it up. I think the tip of his penis had almost made it but I was too dry for it to make easy progress. We went outside and smoked a roll up.
I knew he felt bad.
When I returned to London, Anthony wrote me long, beautiful letters. He told me that he cried each night thinking about me. He made a mix tape and then wrote out the lyrics to our favourite songs in different coloured pens. Initially I was moved and cried too. I felt like we belonged together and would have worked the sex thing out eventually. But it's impossible to keep a teenage romance afloat when you live so far away from one another. A few months later, whilst on holiday in Spain, I slept with a truly, horrible guy after I'd drunk half a bottle of vodka. He kept going even when I said it was hurting. He also had the most terrible wet-look perm and wore braces with white jeans and a bare chest (I can laugh about it now- at the time it made me feel awful and sad).
There's a line in one of my favourite songs, a song that Anthony recorded on one of his mix tapes and raved about incessantly on those long, lazy, mindless drives through the suburbs. He had his window open, his arm getting tanned by the sun. He was always squinting, even when he had those glasses on. I had my feet up on the dashboard and was rolling a cigarette. We weren't going anywhere. We were just driving around.
The line goes something like - 'You're the poet in my heart. Never change. Never stop.'