Soon it was time to get back to Oxford Poly for the first day of term and results. I passed both exams, one fairly average B but the other a more promising B+. Satisfied with this, I began two business modules, which seemed a bit easier. This was a good term. I played loads of football and worked hard into the night. I got to know a lot of people and was enjoying life. Then I met a girl one night. I was completely drunk at the Bop chatting to someone I knew when I noticed her friend.
“Hi, what’s your name?”
She seemed a bit surprised.
“Err, what’s up?” I was swaying.
“Don’t you remember? We talked last week for over an hour.”
I thought for a second. Last Friday night I was properly pissed so, no, I didn’t remember.
“There’s nothing I can say to that” was all I could muster and walked off.
That was toward the end of term as we approached the Easter holidays. In the first week of the next term, I saw that girl again at the Bop. I found out she was called Michelle, and we chatted all evening. Later in the week, I bumped into her on the coach going to the Wheatley campus where we both had business lectures and I walked up, surrounded by her friends, and sat next to her. We talked all the way. At the end, I asked if she would meet me at the next Bop. She said “Yes” and we both headed off to our lectures.
We met the following Friday and Michelle was chatting to a few blokes. I recognised one of them and sighed. I walked up to her, said “Hi” and pecked her on the cheek.
“You’re meeting HIM?” the bloke to her side asked.
I’d played in a football match the Wednesday before for The MOB and there was a bit of an incident. I put in a hard tackle and my opponent screamed and rolled around the floor clutching his shin with both hands. Then someone from the small crowd watching punched me in the face. I moved to get some space. He threw another punch and missed. Grabbing his arm, I pushed it backwards, exposing the back of his neck. I forced his head down and kicked his feet away. On the ground, I hit him repeatedly in the head with my right elbow. People shouted and screamed. My mates jumped in and pulled me away.
My irritated new friend knew these football acquaintances of mine. “You were in the Marines weren’t you?” he asked.
“No, it was the Paras,” I growled. The situation quickly petered out and the bloke left. Michelle and I were left alone in an uncomfortable silence.
Things picked up and we got on really well for the rest of the evening. Later on, I spotted a girl I knew called Tiz. We’d talked, got along, I’d even popped round her house after I’d got drunk, forgotten how to walk and smashed my face on the pavement. She cleaned me up, but we were not going out. I decided to tell Michelle about a girl I had met in America, as well as Tiz at the Bop that night. I’m glad I did because, when we were leaving, Tiz ran up to me and burst into tears. A conveniently located friend led her away. Smooth first date, all in all.
Time moved on toward the end of the summer term and The MOB entered a one-day football competition, which included all the football teams at Oxford Poly. We reached the quarter-finals and rested up while I watched the Women’s First Team play the Men’s Second Team. I knew most of the people playing and it was a good game. I was chatting to the Women’s Team manager and they had a problem. The ball was out of play for a corner but there was an injury and they had no one fit to go on. I agreed to be their substitute and trotted onto the pitch. It was my debut for the Women’s First Team. The MOB captain was furious and screamed at me to get off the pitch. I smiled and waved back.
One of the girls was about to take a corner when someone gave me a big shove in the back. I staggered forwards and almost fell over. I looked over my shoulder and saw a big, angry bloke who played for the Men’s Second Team. I trotted backwards and half-turned. As he approached for another big two-handed shove, I swung around and punched him in the mouth. We stood toe–to-toe, slugging away until the referee blew his whistle and sent us both off. We glared at each other. I could taste blood. My one and only appearance for the Women’s First Team lasted under a minute.