Catch up with Part I here.
Not the object of my teenage affections - she was way better-looking!
School did not end well for C. Moore. In retrospect, my attempts to win the heart of the only female P.E. teacher under 40 were, though heartfelt, rather misguided. I was asked to leave before taking my A-levels, and, somewhat understandably, there wasn't much enthusiasm among local schools to welcome C. Moore into their communities.
At home my bedroom was adorned with pictures of muscular goddesses carefully cut out of muscle magazines (I always bought two copies of everything - one to destroy and one for the files), so you can probably imagine what my own family thought of me.
I sweated out that summer working all hours in a dry cleaning shop, saving almost every penny - I even stopped buying magazines, although I did steal a few. It was time for C. Moore to follow his passion. And so, on an unseasonally chilly September morning, with my father, mother and sister dutifully (but cheerily) waving me goodbye, I boarded my flight to the Land of Female Muscle. Destination - New York.
Central Park - but not in my experience
I'd like to say the States were everything I'd hoped they would be, but sadly my act - illegal (after my tourist visa had run out), unskilled, secondary school dropout with questionable social skills and probably too many questions about where the local gyms were - didn't play very well in New York, and nor did it play well in California, Hawaii (though I swear I saw Marjo Selin drive by while I was there) and Phoenix, Arizona.
But down in Florida, which was my last hope - I hitched there from Arizona, sleeping on gas station roofs when the weather allowed, bus stations when it didn't - I finally found some work with accommodation thrown in, and C. Moore became the handyman at a small resort complex just outside Tampa. I didn't see any female muscle there, but at least I wasn't destitute anymore, and the season was pretty much neverending.
I stayed - for two years. I got good at fixing pretty much anything, and even developed some social skills. I went running along the beach (never saw a single muscular bum, not one), but I got a great tan. I experienced my first hurricane. And my second. I lost my virginity, but not, as I imagined I would, to a female bodybuilder who I'd marry.
Tera Guzman, a good few years later
And I went to my first Bodybuilding show. The 1998 NPC Florida Championships. Kerri Crotty won the Overall, though Tera Guzman and Christine Wan are probably the most familiar names from the eleven who I saw compete that day.
Christine Wan, not in her 1998 Bodybuilding shape
To say that this was the excitement and experience I had crossed the pond and suffered so much hardship for would be a little wide of the mark. Looking back now I wonder at my naivety - I really did think I would be able to just saunter into the pump room, and I really did think once I was there that it would be OK to just feel up some prime female beef. I honestly thought they would be grateful to meet a true fan.
My last few nights in the US were spent in a hospital with a cop sitting next to my bed. As soon as I was discharged, I was deported. C. Moore was driven to the airport at the expense of the county taxpayers, and a big black X was stamped into my passport to ensure I would never return to American soil. I've never tried. But as soon as the plane landed me back in Blighty I set about planning the next contest I would attend.
For a brief - a very brief - moment (and as totally wrong and inappropriate as my behaviour was) (how's that?) [fine - legal dept.] I had laid my hands upon a muscular female body. Everything that happened next - the shouting, the bleeding, the pain, the handcuffs, the mugshot, the hospital food, the piss-taking cops - had been worth it.