Sometimes one's blog can function like a confessional. Oh, bless me father for I have sinned!
I press the re-wind button and my life flickers by in reverse until we arrive at 1966.
I am a schoolboy aged twelve. Every morning I ride the East Yorkshire Motor Services bus into Hull and ride home in the afternoon - a total round trip of twenty six miles. This was the dubious reward I won for passing the 11+ examination with flying colours.
At school, the masters wear black academic gowns and the headmaster is a fearsome fellow called Harry Roach. He struts onto the stage every morning to lead the daily assembly while I linger in the corridor with the Jewish boys because I arrive late every day. When the religious stuff is over we filter into the back of the hall to hear the day's notices. There are rugby results, details of extra-curricular activities and ominously the names of boys that Harry wants to "see" after assembly. "See" means "cane" with a bamboo rod. We all know that and fear being thrashed. In caning, Harry is an Olympic champion.
|A back copy of "Parade" from the 1960's|
showcasing a guitar virtuoso on the cover
I am learning Latin, French, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and something called Divinity which is incredibly boring and always focused on the Christian Bible. There's also History, Geography, Art, Woodwork, Mathematics, Music, English and on Wednesday afternoons - rugby - a "subject" in which I quickly begin to excel.
But in my head there are other things going on. Secret things and novel urges I had not experienced before. Another boy shows me a secondhand copy of a "dirty" magazine called "Parade". We thumb through it together in the cloakroom and my eyes pop out on stalks. Looking directly at us and smiling knowingly, there are lovely young women with their breasts exposed. Overlooking my babyhood, they are the first breasts I have ever seen and I like them. I like them very much indeed.
My lusty companion explains where he bought his copy of "Parade" and one lunchtime the following week I make a special trip to a seedy old bookshop on Spring Bank. I see the pile of back copies of "Parade" near the door - just where he said they would be. Plucking up courage, I grab the copy that's sitting on top of the pile and bravely part with a shilling. It is such a relief to get out of the shop but I have my very own "Parade".
In the weeks that follow I turn those pages a thousand times. The readers' letters are interesting but it's the pictures I like the best and it's there that I linger. If only I could put as much commitment into my Latin homework. I seem to recall that there was a particular dark-haired beauty called Sharon Powers. In my imagination we become lovers, holding hands on country walks before rolling around in haystacks. She looks up from the page as if she recognises me. It's our little secret.
Nowadays youngsters find it easy to access hard-core pornography on the internet. Any age restricting defences are cursory and simple to circumvent. Puberty has always been a time of discovery, leaving childhood innocence behind and the awakening of sexual interest is perfectly natural. However, I am glad that back in 1966 we didn't have access to pornographic films, just mildly raunchy publications like "Parade". I kept my copy in my satchel before sneaking it under my mattress at home which is where my mother discovered it when changing the sheets. Did she have to rip it up and burn it on the fire? Poor Sharon and the other girls - it was a horrible way to go.