Persuade your little sister to play The Tasting Game. Blindfold her, then raid the fridge and feed her different foods on a spoon, telling her to guess what they are. Begin with yummy products like butterscotch Angel Delight and Heinz Sandwich Spread. Hold back the Whitecap Lard for last, but be taken by surprise that she throws a massive benny when you give her Colman’s English Mustard. Try, but fail, to stop her bawling. Stomp upstairs when your father sends you to your room. Vow to get revenge on your sister.
Your boyfriend, a gardener, will break his arm while digging at work, and turn up to meet you at the school gates. Back home, draw love-hearts, ALL over his plaster-cast. Having thought that a broken bone might curtail his interest in persuading you to have sex with him, you’ll be astonished that even a compound fracture is no deterrent to his lust. Resist. Stare in fascination at the span of his biceps.
Saturday morning, at the Wilma Henderson School of Dance, get very excited when Wilma describes her plans for the Summer Show. As well as all the tap dances and chorus numbers, you are to perform solo: a jazz-dance interpretation of Cool for Cats by Squeeze.
Your pleasure is slightly marred by the news that your wee sister is to interpret a song from the film Grease: Look at me I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity. (Wilma suggests a baby-doll nightie as her costume. When your parents get wind of this, they complain). Your sister is ten years old, with specs and squinty teeth. All she eats is Findus Frozen Baked Potatoes. Following parental protest, Wilma changes the dance. Your sister will now perform to the accompaniment of Barbara Dickson’s song: January February. Try not to feel too overjoyed.
Get very excited when Cool for Cats reaches Number Two in the charts. Using your Philips Cassette Recorder, hunch in front of the television in order to tape Top of the Pops. When Squeeze are introduced, press Play and Record simultaneously. Don’t worry about the clunking noise this will create on the cassette: it’s unavoidable. Forget that any other sound will also appear on the tape and yell: “SHHH! I’M RECORDING!” whenever somebody enters the room. Try not to envy the band’s girl vocalists in their red Spandex cat-suits and biker jackets. When your sister asks you if they might be sisters, say: “No, they’re LOVERS!”
Find a large square of hardboard. Tap-dance wildly on it, everywhere around the house, muttering dance steps that Wilma has typed on tiny sheets of paper: “Shuff-ool ball-step, pick-up heel-toe-heel”. Embark upon your costume for your solo. To make your cat’s tail, chop one leg off a pair of black tights. Stuff rags inside, then sew this to the rear end of your leotard.
With great reluctance, accompany your family on holiday to the south of France. Steam up the car window with your breath and draw your boyfriend’s name, over and over, on the glass. When you need the toilet, have hysterics that your father refuses to pull into the side of the road. Consider urinating on his new car’s upholstery, but think better of it. Instead, take great delight in his holidayfaux pas. He’ll walk into the broom cupboard of a restaurant, mistaking it for the exit. Outside another café where you’ve stopped for lunch, he’ll look around in a self-satisfied manner and – having no idea where he is – glance up at a sun-umbrella and intone: “Of course, it’s a lovely wee town, this – – – Stella Artois.”
Upon your return to Glasgow, submit, at last, to your boyfriend’s pleas, and have sex with him for the first time. Try not to look shocked at the enormity and vibrant colour of his erect member. Ask him if it’s a normal one. He’ll admire it, with his head on one side, and say: “Sposedly not. Sposedly it’s the biggest one embdy’s seen. The guys round here say it’s like a baby’s arm hanging out a pram.” Consider this for a moment, then say: “Guys have seen your erect knob?” Within weeks, the relationship will be over.
At the Wilma Henderson Summer Show, embark upon your Cool for Cats dance with such vigour that your tail falls off. You’ll trip on it and crash to the floor, whispering “Shite!” loud enough for the audience to hear.
Later, watch from the wings as your sister, in a leaf-print pyjama ensemble, sways about to January February, her specs flashing in the spotlight. Roll your eyes, in disgust, when the audience go: “Aw! Wee cutey-pie.”
A few days later, conceive of a way to get revenge. Wait until your sister puts one of her stupid frozen baked potatoes in the oven. When she leaves the kitchen, slide something inside the spud. Lurk, innocently, until it’s cooked and your sister starts to eat. Feign surprise when she hesitates and – with a look of astonishment on her face – reaches into the potato and plucks out a folded scrap of paper.
There’ll be writing on it: a note! Ask her to read it aloud. The note will say: HELP! I AM BEING HELD CAPTIVE INSIDE A FINDUS FROZEN FOOD FACTORY. CALL THE POLICE!
Briefly, enjoy her shocked reaction. However, your glee will turn to alarm as you realise that your sister takes the note VERY SERIOUSLY. Watch, in horror, as she gets all worked up about the poor imaginary prisoner. When she starts to dial 999, grab the phone. Reassure her that it’s probably “a hoax, just the workers at the factory having a joke”. Plead with her, but fail to stop her throwing one of her massive bennies. Resign yourself to further punishment.
Your parents will send you to your room in disgrace. Pretend you don’t mind them staring at you, in outrage, as you ascend the staircase. On the way up, speculate about whether they can tell – just by looking at you – that you are no longer a virgin.
Jane Harris’ Gillespie and I is out now in paperback.