Laura E James: Absolute Beginners

As I sit down to write this post on first loves, quite by chance the velvet tones of David Bowie have eased their way into my consciousness and soothed my furrowed brow. I’m listening to Now 1986, and Absolute Beginners is playing. I loved this song. I loved it so much, I bought the vinyl 12 inch. I wanted to spend plenty of quality time with David ‒ something the 45 single couldn’t deliver. In those days, there wasn’t a repeat button, and I had to get up from my comfy red chair to return the arm of the record player to the start of the disc to hear it again. I was up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. I didn’t mind. It gave me the opportunity to linger a while by my bedroom shelf and sigh over the black and white Bowie postcard perched there.

When Absolute Beginners was a hit, I was nineteen; the age Chris Frampton is when he first meets Vicky Paveley, in Follow Me, Follow You. Emotionally and physically, they are each other’s first loves. They know this because their love is that raw, intense, can’t-live-without-you love. The sort that stops you eating, stops you sleeping and stops you speaking about anything other than that boy, that girl, that person, who’s so part of your being, you will absolutely, most definitely, positively die if you don’t see them at least once a day.

Shortly after Gajitman and I became a couple, I was due to jet off for three weeks to Dubai to spend Christmas with my parents. The plans had been made long before I fell madly in love with this tall, gentle, IT man, and as much I was looking forward to seeing my family, the thought of being parted from him hurt.rings

Before I left, I took a photo of him, so I could keep him close at hand. Like my Bowie postcard, the picture was endlessly sighed over. Once in Dubai, I bought a frame, and Gajitman took pride of place on my bedside table. I spoke about him so often to my parents, my mum put a daily restriction on how many times I could mention his name. This makes me smile even now.

Gajitman and I were friends for a couple of years before love took a grip and gave us a good shake. I was twenty-six by this point, and (Gajitman and impressionable children in the James household turn away now), I’d been out with other men.

This brings me to the question: what defines a first love?

Is it those intense feelings you’re experiencing for the cute boy in your maths class who’s helped you understand probability? (What are the chances he’ll go out with me?) Is it the painful, ‘He doesn’t even know I exist but I love him madly’ obsession of a gorgeous pop star? Or is it when the recollection of the dream you had about that person, turns your stomach into Claudia Fragapane and somersaults across the room? If it is, then I’ve had many first loves, especially with those gorgeous pop stars.

Or is first love the complete experience? The reciprocal, full-on, all-encompassing, passionate love you want to last a lifetime even if, as a couple, you don’t?Wedding Photo Cutting The Cake Hands 2

This is the love Chris and Victoria share in their teens. There will have been other girlfriends and other boys, plenty of first hand-holding and first kisses, but this? This is the exciting, painful, wonderful, exhausting, totally absorbing love. This is the real deal. This is their first love.

I’ve reached the conclusion there isn’t a standard answer to my question. I think the only person who can know what it is that defines a first love, is you.

As someone who can spend days giving serious consideration as to what to write in a birthday card, words and their meanings are of great importance to me, so I know my first, true, romantic love was and still is with the only man to whom I’ve said, ‘I love you.’

And that isn’t David Bowie.

*hits repeat*

Can a first love last forever?



You save me and I’ll save you…

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape.

But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?

With the risk of them breaking, will either #follow their heart?

Available TODAY on Google Play, Kobo, Apple and Kindle. Paperback out in September – pre-order here.

15 thoughts on “Laura E James: Absolute Beginners

  1. I’m very thankful I DIDN’T end up with my first love – as you say everyone’s story is different. Some of us had to go the – oh no another frog – route before finding our prince 🙂

  2. My first love was when I was 14 and I used to follow him around the town on my bike (early version of stalking!). He was tall, dark, good-looking with heavy-lidded eyes. When I met him again years later, he was fat! So glad I grew out of that first love!

  3. OMG – even thinking about that boy in the leather jacket at the local youth club can make me curl up and die, even half a century later…

  4. Frogs I can do, Angela, it’s the toads we have to watch out for 🙂
    Ann – I knew a lad who did that almost in reverse. He was a quite, unassuming, nice-enough boy who blossomed into a strapping feller who left the girls swooning.
    Thank you, Linda. Excellent point – the one who got away. I’ve heard of couples who’ve found their way back in later life.
    Oo, Margaret, Chris Frampton wears a leather jacket. I’m with you all the way…

  5. Lots to think about in this post, Laura… and I’ve been trying to decide how to answer it! I think the safest response is that I’ve learned what love isn’t along the way! It was also an almighty and very inconvenient shock when I discovered that there is such a thing as love at first sight!

  6. Wow. That must have hit you hard – in a good way. *makes note to discuss next time we meet*.
    I’m a firm believer in knowing when something is right having learnt from past experiences.

  7. David Bowie fan here, Laura! But I’m selective. I LOVED everything up to and including Aladdin Sane. Since then I’ve loved some stuff and been left cold by others – although Absolute Beginners is definitely in the ‘loved’ column.

    I hope Follow Me, Follow You is a huge for you. xxx

  8. Thank you, Sue. And thank you for your fantastic tutoring.
    As I was reading your comment, I suddenly recalled Space Oddity and Golden Years – they are the two Bowie songs I first heard. That takes me back even further. xxx

  9. I love this post and I look forward to reading the book.
    Angela you made me smile…I’m glad I didn’t end up with my first love either, but I know plenty of people who did and wouldn’t change it for the world.
    Helen 🙂

  10. Great post, Laura. First real love, the one that lasts, not necessarily the teenage infatuation and frogs, we’ve all kissed a few of those with our fingers crossed, I bet. David Bowie was one of my first and most enduring loves. I was so loyal, I spent many happy hours matching my hair colour to his and copying his clothes.
    Absolute Beginner? Yes I was, and still am in lots of ways …hope I always will be, but thanks for the tip ref toads, shall avoid those like the plague. Good luck with the novel, sounds a really super read, now on my TBR list.

  11. Adrienne! Hello 🙂 I’ve always thought there’s a touch of Bowie in Sean Bean. Gajitman can’t see it, so I wonder if it’s just me … Thank you for your kind wishes and for stopping by at the Corner 🙂 xx

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