Aaron was a 30 year old part-time DJ with bad teeth and a welded-on 80s leather jacket who lived with his parents and fancied himself as the next James Herbert in the horror-writing stakes.
I was an impressionable 19-year old of similarly limited wardrobe and writing talent desperate for intelligent company in Coventry.
Aaron began to visit me in the greetings card shop where I worked bringing me home-compilation tape after home-compilation tape of all the music he insisted I must listen to.
At some point I visited his parents' house and sat in his black bedroom with its grey, black and red geometric curtains as he plied me with track after track of rare pop music for my delectation, but which in actual fact washed in one ear and out the other as I enjoyed the curiosity of his company for its own sake. Boys and their attention were still a tremendous novelty to a girl from a sheltered rural Northern Irish upbringing and it was rather daring to be alone in a room with one I hardly knew, even if his parents were watching Family Fortunes downstairs.
I confessed to a liking for soul music and before I knew it had acquired a dozen compilation tapes of the hard stuff - not just the right tracks, but the definitive versions sung by the definitive artists according to Aaron.
I should have seen the signs that he fancied me, but as far as I was concerned, Aaron and I were just friends (and fellow writers) who hung out occasionally.
A trip to Alton Towers ensued during which he sulked as I eschewed the three-hour screaming kid queues for dinner-raising rides and was content to just wander about the parkland wasting whatever exorbitant multi-ride admission tickets Aaron had laid out for. On the train back to Coventry he complained bitterly.
I decided he really was a bit controlling in a way I didn't care for, much though I realised even then he was probably quite a good moulder of my scant musical knowledge.
That night, possibly as a conciliatory gesture for being a somewhat ungrateful mare, I allowed him to kiss me goodnight outside my grandmother’s house where I then lived. It turned into a full-blown moneysworth snog. I didn't resist, but found myself guiltily repulsed by the acrid smell of his breath and sticky tackiness of his leather jacket in the chilly Autumn air.
The next time I saw him he was full of plans for our next date, a local concert to see a band I now forget, but I felt it was only fair to come clean and admit that I didn't want to date him, just be friends. He was furious and stormed off, displaying a pronounced limp I had hitherto never noticed, seldom to be seen again, except to tell me in no uncertain terms I had made a big mistake and would regret it for the rest of my life.
For a week or so I wondered if he was right and then forgot about him except to occasionally put a tape on and slowly over the years form an appreciation of certain tracks such as the wonderfully overblown soul number ‘Patches’, much though I could take or leave most of the rest which seemed altogether more middle of the road, despite Aaron’s lyrical waxing.
But there remain two other things I still thank Aaron for - firstly introducing me to Jim Croce's hauntingly beautiful 'Photographs & Memories' despite the fact that he and I were to revel in no ‘morning walks and bedroom talks’ of our own, and secondly, and less flatteringly, for giving me a whole new appreciation of comedy series 'Garth Merenghi's Darkplace' when it came along – the spoof of a horror-writing hack who succeeds in getting his improbable dialogue, continuity chasms and holey stories screened on the most obvious of shoestring budgets.
Yet I find I make this second observation with surprising affection for someone who could at the very least have been a ‘cult’ had he but known it and stopped trying to take himself so anally seriously.
Mind you it came as a bit of a shock to find Jim Croce looked (to coin a line from fellow poet Sue Johns) 'like Burt Reynolds washed at the wrong temperature' when I looked him up on YouTube (see my first attempt at ‘embedding’ below) I had always had a highly romanticised view of him as a bit young Justin Hayward-ish in my head.
But then aren't things always more romantic in our heads...?