Alternative title, "When Johnny Came Marching Home!" But read "Philip" instead of "Johnny".
My thanks go to my proofreaders, who I hope will have picked up most of my typos etcetera. But as is my want, I'm sure to have fiddled with the tale before I post it, so I'll bet I've added a few more cock-ups in the process. I find I alter every tale I've written whenever I reread them.
Chancer = a person who exploits any opportunity to the utmost. A philanderer can sometimes be referred to as a chancer!
Googly = A technique of bowling sometimes used in the game of Cricket, that's designed to lead the batsman to believe that the bowler is delivering a different ball. i.e. an off break bowled with an apparent leg-break action.
Over = cricket again - a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch. When it's a persons turn to bowl, then it's sometimes referred to as their over.
Yeah well, I do realize that all that is probably as clear as mud to some folks.
Nemesis, look the word up in an encyclopaedia, you'll find it's described as the Greek mythological goddess of retribution. Look nemesis up in the dictionary, and you'll probably find that its use has changed a little over the years, one description that might be given is, "An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome."
As we go through life, most of us will come across our own personal Nemesis at least once in our lifetime. Me, I ran into mine at a very early age, and the bugger has bugged my existence ever since.
His name is Phil Caine; Philip Louis Caine to be precise. As a child he lived near me and went to the same school as I did. Although in the same year group, we were very rarely in the same classes. I was streamed a little higher than Phil, so - in theory - I was the more intelligent of the two of us. That always has been the trouble with theory; things don't often don't work out the same in practise.
Anyway, that was the only thing I scored higher than him in. Phil Caine was a born sportsman and I could never even hope to match him on the playing field; although I gave it a bloody good try on occasions.
Philip was also handsome, I had to admit that, even when we were children. I stood five seven in my bare feet and eventually Phil stood six foot, or more. Albeit, with the help of those little height wedges in his shoes, that they used to sell on the back pages of the Marvel comics, along with the BB guns and other such crap.
For the life of me I'll never understand why I never let the cat out of the bag about those little wedges. Yeah well, maybe that was something else I had on him; Phil Caine was a vain bugger, and I was not.
Well, I had sweet FA to be vain about really. Except maybe my test scores in maths and science at school. But those scores didn't gain me much kudos on the streets or in the girl chasing stakes.
Look, I ain't saying that I'm a bleeding Quasimodo look alike or anything; but I have always known that I was destined to be one of the many also-rans in life when it came to the romance Stakes. Or I suppose you could say that I must have been about halfway down the queue, when they came to giving out good looks. Consequently I've always accepted that I was never going to win any prizes in a Mr Universe competition.
Phil, well to be honest with you, I think he was a natural born babe magnet, even before he'd been old enough to work out why there were two sexes. Once puberty had paid him a call; well, the bugger began working his way through almost every good looking female within a five-mile radius, and even further a field, once he was old enough to drive.
I say almost every female, because there was one particular girl that I can guarantee everyone, that Phil Caine never did score with when we were younger, Polly James.
Why Polly? Well, Polly, Phil and me were all near neighbours and we'd hung around with each other since our nursery school days. Quite inexplicably to most folks, Phil and I were the best of friends, and if you ever found the pair of us ... Well, rest assured that Polly weren't very far away.
That was us; "Three peas in a pod," our parents used to say. Philip, Pollyanna and Peter. Yeah well that's my name, Peter, known to the world as good old Pete. All three of us being only children, we grew up treating the other two as sort of surrogate siblings. Phil and me might have been chalk and cheese, in personality as well as physical appearance. But with Polly around, to pour oil on troubled waters, there were never any serious disagreements between us. Well except much later concerning Polly, but I'll come to that in a while.
Yeah, as kids Phil and I went at it now and again, but I can't recall that we ever resorted to fisticuffs. Polly made sure of that; she always did have a weird sort of hold over both of us lads. And to be honest, most of the other guys as well. There was something about Polly that had a strange effect on nearly all of the boys in our circle of friends.
Don't go thinking that we didn't get into the odd schoolboy scrap though; Jesus, Phil and I spent plenty of time on report and in detention after school, because some clown had rubbed one of us up the wrong way. Quite a few would-be bullies discovered that, if you picked on one of us, then you found yourself dealing with both. Even the odd fool, who said the wrong thing to Polly, found himself in more trouble than he'd bargained for with Phil and me.
As kids the three of us played together all the time; luckily Polly turned out to be a bit of a Tomboy. But then again, she spent all of her time with two boys, so she couldn't really have been anything but. Phil and I certainly wouldn't have played with dolls with her.
Polly could kick a football better than either Phil or I. And I can assure you, that being on the receiving end of her spin bowling was no bleeding joke for anyone. Mind you, it was possibly the experience I gained from being on the receiving end of Polly's lightning fast Over's, that led to me making second bat for our school cricket team. No guesses on who was first bat and team captain.
Anyway, that was the state of play for more years than I can remember. But as the three of us began to get into our teenage years, Polly, as girls most often do, began to develop a little faster than Phil and I. Or rather her body did actually, she hit puberty a good six months or so ahead of either of us two boys. Mind you, that didn't stop her kicking a football around, and going rock climbing, that had become our favourite weekend pass time, with Phil and I.
Us guys weren't too far behind in the development race really. But far enough back for more than one other guy at school to ask Polly out on a date before it struck either Phil or I that we should really be doing likewise.
Mind you, you've got to understand our mindset here. Polly had been our mate, our best mate actually, since forever really. Philip always had been in second place in that race, in my thoughts, and I suppose, the truth be known, I came dismal second to Polly in Philip's eyes as well.
Polly had been thought of that way for so long, that we had a little difficulty thinking of her as a girl at all. Well, except maybe when we were forced to come to Polly's defence, and then our big brother natures came to the fore. And, not forgetting that both Phil and I noticed that Polly had started developing curves that neither of us were likely to, or would even wish to. Eventually those curves brought a new ... figure into the equation.
To us Polly weren't one of those silly little bitches giggling together on the school bus. Polly would be sitting with Phil and I, talking about ... Oh bugger, I really can't remember what we used to chat about now; boy things I suppose. Anyway when the three of us got together, we always found something to discuss, where we were going rock climbing that weekend, or even I suppose, like most youngsters, what record was top of the charts.
Anyway, it was when it did eventually strike Phil and me that getting all close up and personal with Polly, might not be such a bad idea, that life began to get really interesting. All I can remember is the venue that both Phil and I chose as the ideal occasion for a first date with Polly; was that year's spring school dance.
And thereby hung the problem, not only did both Phil and I, independently, come up with the idea of asking Polly out on a date around the same time. We both chose the same bus ride home from school to ask her.
I can't quite recall how we managed to ask her at the same time, but somehow we did. Polly went very quiet for a while; looking from one of us to the other, then announced that she was going to the spring dance with Billy Smart. However, she rapidly went on to explain that her plan had been to travel to and from the school that evening with Phil and I.
I kinda got the idea, that we'd been volunteered to act as chaperones on the journey; Billy Smart was a flash little git, who gained himself a little bit of a reputation for ... Well we were teenagers with hormones doing their thing, what kind of reputation would you expect Billy Smart to have?
I looked at Phil, and he looked back at me; then we both looked at Polly.
"Oh come on boys, you really couldn't have expected me to make a decision like that. The pair of you have been making it clear to me for weeks, that you were going to ask me to the dance. I love both of you like you are my brothers; how the hell do you expect me to choose between you?" Polly eventually said.
.... There is more of this story ...