Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Five: The First Time

Parents record their children’s achievements all the time. Their first smile; their first steps; their first words… it goes on and lovingly on. And then it stops. At some point they stop remarking on their offspring’s milestones, possibly because they don’t know what they are or when they happened.

No one’s suggesting that you sit down at the kitchen table and discuss the loss of your virginity with mum and dad, but there are some wonderful memorable experiences that deserve wider recognition. The first time you drink champagne deserves an honourable mention. I’m talking about the proper stuff. Bubbles are all very well, but champagne is bliss. There’s no comparison. But it doesn’t make the top five, which are...
5 First Time Experiences:
  1. The first time you ‘get’ Shakespeare – chances are it won’t be at school. You’re just aware of him as some bloke that other people appreciate for whatever reason and suddenly it hits you – that poetry; that characterisation; that insight; that freedom with language and plot. For me it was the Triumph Theatre production of Richard II at the Phoenix Theatre in 1988 with Derek Jacobi in the title role. I thought, ‘I want to do that; I want to move people as I have been moved’.
  2. The first time you go home after having been away for a long time. Flying back to Heathrow makes me blub like a baby. I haven’t lived in England now for over 16 years, but it’s home. There are so many people and places there that give me a sense of security and comfort while conversely filling me with excitement and anticipation. It just feels like home, and nothing makes you appreciate home more than leaving it.
  3. The first time you drive your own car. Whether it’s second-hand or brand new (I assume, having never owned a brand-new vehicle), it gives you a sense of independence and liberty and responsibility all in one. You can go anywhere there is a road and enough petrol. That’s power.
  4. The first time you vote. Going into the little booth and marking your voting paper and then posting it in the box – it’s all so civilised and you are part of a democracy that people have fought and died for. It makes me feel proud every time I do it.
  5. The first time someone other than your family says ‘I love you.’ Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to hear your family say it, and to say it to them, but if you’re lucky you’ve grown up with that unconditional affection and you probably can’t clearly remember the first time it was said or you said it back. When someone unrelated says it to you and you say it back and you know you both mean it, there may not be a better feeling in the whole world.

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