4 April 2017

"Parade"

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.

28 comments:

  1. I'm sure there was more trading of such magazines going on between the lads, than there was trading on the stock market!

    And many mothers smothering their smiles as they discovered the prized possessions hidden under the mattresses of their sons! :)

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    1. I am sure it was a zone into which far too much brain power was injected. No wonder I once fell asleep during Physics.

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  2. Teenage boys are pretty simple when they hide stuff under a mattress. They have no idea that mothers change bedding and sometimes the hidden stuff drops out.

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    1. I guess you had a whole library of raunchy magazines under your mattress Red... including "Eskimo Gals", "Prairie Gals" and "Lumberjack Gals".

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    2. I'm so old we didn't have any raunchy magazines. we were o far out in the boonies we only got the weekly paper. but we did find a few magazines under our son'd mattress.

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  3. Did your mom get mad at you? Or did she take it in stride?

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    1. I don't recall any angry words just the burning of my lovely girls... but at times my mother did display a fiery temper. It was best to be on her good side.

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  4. Was his name really Harry Roach? A bit of irony there :) You certainly had a full course load. In our school chemistry, physics and biology didn't start until our third last year in school (about age 16). And clearly you were doing a double course in biology...

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    1. Yes Jenny. I was drawn to Human Anatomy and Reproduction or was it Double Art?

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  5. Imagine ( or remember) what it must have been like to get most of one's sexual education through experience. There surely was less disappointment and a lot more joy in experimentation

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    1. That's a good point Kylie. Natural discovery uncorrupted by media imagery was the way it had been for millennia.

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  6. Wasn't there another magazine called "Health and Efficiency", or something like that, showing you photos of nudists throwing beach balls to each other. In 1966 I was 19 and taking things a lot more seriously by throwing myself fully into the Swinging Sixties thing and all it's it's hedonism - great times. It's frightening to think what an average 12 year old has at his disposal these days, even if he hasn't a clue about the physical gymnastics involved in what he's watching.

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    1. Your last point is the very consideration that inspired this post Derek. And yes, I remember "Health and Efficiency" too. It's a shame that there were some blokes at those nudist camps. Did you wear a kaftan in the sixties Derek or were you a rocker?

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    2. I, and my chums, always wore denim jeans and jackets (Levis) and desert boots, we were folk guitar playing beatnik types.

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  7. I don't know at what age you did 11+ or does that mean you have to do 11 subjects? That's a lot of work. You should have taken the extra curricular subject, Concealing Parades.

    Alphie

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    1. The 11+ was an exam that English kids sat at the age of eleven. If you passed you went to grammar school. If you failed you went to a secondary modern school. In my view it was a very cruel test.

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  8. Poor Sharon indeed! I wonder what became of her, and how many boys your age dreamt of holding hands with her and doing... erm... other things together.
    When I was 12, a new girl in class befriended me. Both her parents were out at work most days, so she was on her own much of the time. We took advantage of that and often went to her place after school. One day she said she wanted to show me something. She took me to her parents' bedroom and pulled out a stack of porn magazines from the bedside table. I had never seen anything like it and was at the same time apalled and fascinated.
    I just couldn't imagine people doing something like that for fun (and of course the people pictured in the magazines didn't, either).

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    1. I guess the magazines were for late night reading - rather like the novels that you often review over at your blog. Perhaps your new friend's parents suffered from insomnia.

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  9. Awwww. Those were the days!

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    1. So you like "Parade" too Addy?

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  10. Oh, Lord, we've all been through some version of this story, haven't we? I read an article not too long ago lamenting that young men today learn about sex through hard-core pornography, and thus believe they're supposed to act in real life the way men act in those films. Which, needless to say, have very little to do with reality and the way women really want to be treated.

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    1. (I don't mean to imply, by the way, that your version of this story isn't entertaining! :) )

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    2. Thank heavens for the extension to your original comment. It has quelled my bristling annoyance.

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  11. YP's version was about simplicity and the fact that we generally went through the various stages one at a time rather than the present time where youths jump to the end before they've worked out how to do the beginning.

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    1. Please advise me how to do the beginning Derek as I have forgotten.

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  12. The only porno i had access to when i was 12 was the occassinal mag pages discarded on prestatyn beach

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    1. Had they been used as toilet paper?

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