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Funny how impulsive decisions, even if wrong, can have long distance positive effects on your life..
As my athletic dreams collapsed, and my university courses developed I set my mind on becoming a journalist. And for two years I slaved at those courses that took me towards my goal. Then, out of nowhere, came the idea of switching to teaching. Why? Social conscience? I doubt it, but something urged me, at the end of my second year, to take a parallel course of teaching theory. In those far off days a university graduate only required minimal extra training to become a teacher. So that’s what I did.
Big mistake! Or so it seemed.
Being at university was no mistake. I enjoyed my course and my freedom to extend, as my mentor Laura had encouraged, my sexual experience. Gradually, I learned how to weigh up the female students. How and when to make my approach. What pace to take in the seduction plan. Sometimes, but rarely, a girl would practically throw herself upon me. Most times I needed to apply all the techniques Laura had, so sweetly, outlined.
It was a good time. I learned a lot, on all fronts.
Was it coincidence then, or some divine hand, that, when I successfully graduated, the only teaching job I could find was at the Coldbeck Academy, a fairly high class upper school. As the head teacher, Mrs Milligan, warned me, “You look older than your twenty one years. Don’t ever let them know you are only three or four years older than them.”
Her warning heeded, I started off all right. I had been allocated to older groups who were in their examination year. Because of that I was only permitted to guide them through subsidiary subjects. Map reading, where I had to keep myself clued up to have something to present.
Another area I was asked to cover was contemporary fiction, which was more up my street, and I I set out to discuss recent volumes like Pasternak’s ‘Dr Zhivago’, and Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’, which, as some of the group were keen to point out, had already been made into a film.
I deliberately avoided ‘Lolita’ and John O’Hara’s ‘On the Terrace’ mainly because by the time I began to consider those books, I felt the attitude of some of the girls, in one group, would have made too much of the, then, risqué content.
At first, I felt I handled the challenge all right. Most of the boys were good listeners, with active minds. To be fair, I have to say the same for the majority of the girls. It was just that some of them, their ages bordering on eighteen, were highly nubile, and in that one group, a few had an attitude that I can only call ‘provocative’.
Eyes glancing from huddled groups, and whispers and giggles as I walked down the corridor. Accented greetings of, “Good morning, Mr Baines,” with eyelashes fluttering. But it was in the classroom where the school regulation skirts suddenly began to look short, riding up thighs, while blouses strangely became unbuttoned. Not every girl, but a fair section, were continually flaunting their burgeoning femininity.
One girl in particular seemed eager to carry the whole business further. Her name was Thelma Tewart, not an unattractive girl by any measure, and no dullard when it came to academics. But she wore her sexuality like a badge. Of all the girls she was the one who would lean in too close; make bodily contact, with hand or thigh. A couple of times I had to advise her about the inappropriateness of her proximity.
By the time I was into the third term of my time there, I had decided that my real job satisfaction would not be found in teaching. Consequently, I had written a couple of sample articles to two or three newspapers, and been offered an interview with one of them, based in London. That interview proved successful, and I was given a year’s probation.
So, as we entered those final weeks in school, with the examinations over, the girls became a shade more brazen. On one well-remembered day, I had noticed in class that they seemed particularly high, almost excited. I also noticed, Thelma Tewart constantly turning to the other girls, her head nodding, a wide smirk on her face.
Not wanting to be too heavy at that late stage of the school year, I reprimanded her by saying, “I would appreciate your closer attention, Thelma.”
Her lips pursed and her eyes blinking exaggeratedly she said, ” Oh, yes, Mr Baines. I’ll give you that.”
Other girls giggled, their hands to their mouths, but the rest of the lesson went off without anything untoward. I dismissed the class and began clearing up.
I was in the large attached stockroom, setting books on shelves, when I heard movement behind me and the stockroom door slammed shut. Surprised, I turned round to find Thelma Tewart, leaning against the door, her fingers undoing her blouse, as she leered at me.
“Is this the kind of closer attention you meant, Mr Baines?” she droned, in what she believed was a sexy voice. At the same time she flicked her blouse open to reveal well formed pink tipped breasts.
“Thelma!” I gasped. My initial instinct Anadolu Yakası Escort was to pull her out of the way, but that would mean laying hands on her.
“Like to touch them, Mr Baines? Rub your thing between them?”
I was almost speechless with the shock of it. I could hardly believe she would be this blatant. “Stop it now, Thelma.”
Her smile widened, as she swayed her body in a lewd gesture, and her hand stroked around her pubic area. “Or are you more interested in what I’ve got down here.” And she took half a step forward.
I stepped back and put on my stern voice, “Stop this, Thelma. You are being very foolish.”
“Oh, come on–I’m turned eighteen—you can rub—” But at that moment her words were cut off as the door burst open, striking her off balance, and there stood Mrs Milligan.
Oh, hell, I thought I was in deep trouble. But Mrs Milligan, her face red with obvious anger, grabbed Thelma by the shoulders, “You wicked girl. How dare you act in this manner. Button yourself and get away to my room.”
Without looking back at me, Thelma began buttoning up, her face blank, and disappeared out through the doorway. Mrs Milligan turned towards me.
“Mrs Milligan, I had no idea that—“
She held up a hand, “Please, Mr Baines, I’m afraid you’ll have a low opinion of the school after this.”
I found it difficult finding words,” I–I just wasn’t expecting—“
“I’m sure you weren’t. I’m so grateful that one of the girls had the good sense to come and tell me what Thelma intended. Other girls knew and I’ll be having words with them.”
So the incident passed in a sense of real relief, and my school experience finished, with me a little wiser, but without any regrets. I was going to be a journalist, never realising that there was to be one extra outcome from my school experience.
My probation year went well, and when I was offered a full term contract I was delighted. My goal was to be a sports journalist, but for just over a year I was covering general events; court cases, accident sites, new buildings. In other words practically anything.
The editor knew of my desire to cover the sports scene and in early January 1959 he called me into his office.
“You’ve done well in your time here, Harry, but you say you want to do the sports page?”
My heart quickened, “That’s right.”
A smile creased his round, ruddy face, “Well, it’s early days for that.” My heart slowed. “But—you’ll know that Brian London takes on Henry Cooper at Earl’s Court on the 9th of this month?”
I nodded, hopeful for what was to come.
“I want you to go and write up an article on the crowd, their reactions, their fervour, their moods—“
“The crowd?” I said, my voice not disguising my disappointment.
The editor nodded, “And next week I want you to be at the game at Highbury, Arsenal against Spurs—local rivals. Compare the crowds at both occasions.”
Well, at least it got me to see England’s leading boxers fighting for the heavyweight title which was currently in Brian London’s hands, and I never minded seeing Arsenal or Spurs.
“It’s a start,” the editor said. “Don’t worry, young man. I’ve got you in mind.”
So it was I got to see the London/Cooper battle, which Henry Cooper won on points, his face a mask of blood from a cut eye which would be a problem throughout his career.
Fight over, Jack Randene, who had covered the actual bout, took me to an up-market bar not far from the Earls Court centre, where he talked in desultory fashion about the fight, and went rambling on about what a great reporter he was.
At the same time he was giving vast attention to the curves of any passing female, regaling me with lascivious details of the successes he’d had. Into our second half of brew, I was desperately seeking a means of escape from what I was sure were his fictions. Then I saw his eyes widen appreciatively, and his lips pursed as he spotted something behind me.
“Grrr, this is what I call—“
He stopped, and a look of surprise crossed his face, as a voice at my shoulder said, “Mr Baines? It is Mr Baines, isn’t it?”
I turned in my seat, and instantly leapt to my feet. In front of me was a stunningly beautiful young woman, in a wool dress that highlighted a full bosom and slender curvaceous figure.
“That’s him, my dear,” Jack cut in before I could say anything. “But I’m Jack, and a much better prospect.”
The girl briefly turned her eyes onto Jack, “I’ve heard of age before beauty, but I’ve never seen it personified.” I liked her instantly.
Jack’s face tightened, but he forced a smile, “Oh, a feisty one. I’m off for a slash. Watch yourself there, Harry.”
I stood there for a moment, just awestruck by her finely drawn features.
“You don’t know who I am, do you?” she said, a charming smile on her full lips.
Something told me I should know. The more I looked at her the more I found something familiar in the way her head tilted, in the gentle quality of her voice’ and the green of the eyes.
“Clue,” Anadolu Yakası Escort Bayan she said, with a smile. “Coldbeck School.”
One of those girls? Hell, it was only eighteen months ago. Recognition was still not immediate.
“One thing I do know,” I said, giving a tentative smile,” you’re not Thelma Tewart.”
She threw her head back, her wavy, long black hair fanning out fetchingly, as she laughed delightedly, a disarming sound. ” I suppose you have more reason to remember her name.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling awkward, and annoyed that I had that name, but couldn’t recall that of this beauty.
“I was always on the fringe of that group,” she told me. Her lips parted and she ran a finger over her upper teeth in a slow, deliberate gesture, her eye brows raised as she looked at me.
Those eyes. God, she was gorgeous. And her mime jogged my memory instantly. “You wore a brace. You’re Hazel—Hazel–“
As my mind searched desperately to deliver her surname, I could only come up with a girl who had always responded eagerly in my literature classes.
“It’s Purdom,” she offered, with a friendly smile.
“You were good at literature,” I said quickly, needing her to know that I could remember. I also needed to work something out to maintain contact with her. Could a girl develop into such a beauty in just eighteen months? Well, clearly she had
Glancing across the room I saw Jack talking to a group at the bar. Time to be positive.
“Are you with somebody?” I asked her.
“I was with a group of friends—a birthday for one of them. ” She looked back towards a table where two or three young ladies were seated. “Most of them have gone.” Her eyes turned back to me. With expectation? Or was I dreaming?
“Care to move out? We’ve much to talk about” That was positive enough.
She didn’t hesitate, “I’ll just say my good nights, and get my coat.”
“See you outside the main door,” I told her, and glanced across at Jack, who was looking in my direction. I waved him a less than fond farewell, and he made a lewd gesture.
Outside, the air was crisply chill, and I buttoned up my overcoat while I waited. She didn’t keep me waiting long. Even in the thick blue coat she was wearing it was possible to imagine a superb figure beneath the cover.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t realise it was so late. I’m not very good company this time of night. “
“Live far away?” I asked, trying to hide my disappointment.
“Camden,” she said. The coincidence immediately dispelled my worries.
“I’ve got a place in Kentish Town,” I told her, and as her eyebrows rose in surprise I added, “Share a cab?”
She seemed happy to agree, and in surprisingly quick time we were sitting together in the back of a cab. The driver having spent a couple of minutes telling us what an awful night he’d had with drunks, we quickly got down to telling each other about the intervening years since we left the school.
“You were going into journalism,” Hazel said, her green eyes were wide and interested.
I told her of the progress I had made, of my dream of becoming a sports reporter. And how that very night had been a step closer to that.
“The fight. They were talking about it in the shop this morning.”
“Oh, Cooper won it.” I looked at her with some surprise. “Shop? What happened to university?”
Her eyes were wistful, and I’d have been happy just to gaze into them. “I started a course at Oxford.” A slight smile crossed her face,” Literature–I was always keen.”
I could honestly say, “I do remember that.”
“But do you remember me telling you about how I helped my uncle in his book shop?”
Very faintly it came back. A brace-toothed girl, dark hair tight to her head, talking avidly about being surrounded by ranks of books. “I believe I do.”
She nodded with satisfaction at my brilliant memory, and said, “Well, I had done six months at Oxford–enjoyed it, and helped out at my uncle’s bookshop during vacations. But I’d been doing that for years, anyway”
She stopped, and, even in the gloom of the cab, I could see the moistening in her eyes. “My uncle died —he left the shop to me in his will.”
“I’m sorry–about your uncle–but what happened with the shop?”
“I packed in university—couldn’t resist taking it on. That’s how I’m in Camden—flat above the shop. I love it so much.”
I asked the question that had been bugging me from the moment she had appeared. “Is there a man in your life?”
Her look at me was fixed, the eyes almost teasing, ” Not at the moment. And you?”
“No man in my life,” I joked and wallowed in her genuine laughter. “No women either.” In fact there had been no women for at least two months. I’d had my fair share of casual affairs, none of which had even looked serious.
And now I was faced with a strange moment for me. With those other women, when I asked for a date, I couldn’t care less if they turned me down. Now, with a suggestion on my Escort Anadolu Yakası lips, I felt a strange inhibition, a fear that Hazel might refuse. I saw that we were on the edge of Camden and I needed to make the move.
“May I see you again?” God, my voice was breathless.
I saw her take a deep breath, before she answered, “I thought you’d never ask, but—“
But? Why was that ‘but’ so threatening to me?
And I saw that she had a worried look, “I’m going away for a week. My gran’s rather ill and I’m helping out at her place in Norwich.” She leaned forward and spoke to the cab driver, “Just by the next lamp.” she said.
Then she opened her little handbag and I placed a hand over it. “I’ll fix the fare,” I told her.
She looked up, “Oh, are you sure? I couldn’t let—“
“No argument, please.”
“I just feel—” She stopped, and a smile lit up her face.”—all right. No argument.”
The cab had stopped in front of a shop where books showed in the unlit windows.
Hazel took her hand out of her handbag and held out a card. “My number. Please call. I’ll be back late Saturday.”
“I hope your Gran’s all right.” I said. She briefly touched my knee before getting out of the cab, and her smile stayed with me all the way home.
It stayed with me for a full week. A week that dragged intolerably. A week when her green eyes, the smile on her face, or even the so brief touch of her fingers on my knee, insinuated themselves into my subconscious at unexpected moments.
All this after just one meeting? What was wrong with me? I had been lucky. I seemed to be one of those men that women came on to without any bother. Okay, more often than not, the initial feminine enthusiasm stopped at physical surrender. But at least I had been able to keep, I told myself, a level-headed approach to my encounters. So what about my response to Miss Purdom?
That following Saturday I felt as excited as a teenager on a first date as I phoned her, longing to see her, and equally keen to hear her reaction when I told about the theatre tickets I had for the Monday night.
Her voice seemed slightly breathless as she said, ” I thought you mightn’t call.”
“That bother you?”
There was a moment’s pause, “Yes, it would.”
Elated, I told her I had theatre tickets. They were courtesy of our drama critic who was always worth keeping in with.
“Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.”
She gasped, and her voice was almost disbelieving, ” But that’s—that’s
‘My Fair Lady.’ It only opened a few months ago.”
“A taxi for seven o’clock?”
“I can’t wait.”
That theatre night was all I could have hoped for. Hazel, when she removed her coat in the busy foyer, revealed her delectable figure in a green wool dress. “I wasn’t sure what to wear for a night like this,” she said apologetically, as she viewed, the over-elaborate gowns on the women around us.
I leaned close to her and whispered, “I’ll bet they’re all eyeing you and thinking ‘I wish I looked like that.'”
She smiled and squeezed my arm. A simple touch, but it was like a bolt of electricity to me.
The show was terrific. The night glowed with her animated excitement as we came out into the crisp night air, and she enthused about what we had just experienced. That first date ended with a chaste kiss on respective cheeks, a brief and tentative hand clasp and an agreement to meet on the Thursday night.
The second date was a film night and I took her to the Odeon, Leicester Square, to see ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof’. Whether it was the emotions roused by that terrific film, or something else, I wasn’t sure, but she clutched my arm, in the cab, all the way back to her shop. And when the cab stopped she leaned into me and the kiss was warm, moist and, for me, utterly bewildering. How could this girl have such an effect on ‘Mr Know-it-all-with-the-ladies.’ She was invading my confidence zone.
.She drew back, a worried look on her face, “God, am I being too forward,” she said.
I tried to ease my own emotions by joking, “Not as much as Thelma Tewart.”
She laughed, “Maybe Icould be. And there’s something I’ll tell you about that incident sometime.”
We met again on Saturday evening. This time it was for a meal at a cosy little fish restaurant I knew locally, where we dined sumptuously on a prawn salad followed by a fish pie that was just delicious.
“I didn’t know this place existed,” she remarked taking a sip of the Chardonnay.
“Oh, I know all the back alleys of London.”
We talked and talked. She told me all about the thrill of having her own bookshop, about her uncle’s secret cupboard where he kept what he termed, ‘rare volumes and some books banned in this country’
“Of course, since taking over I’ve looked in that cupboard. Some superb volumes–I’ve intended to have them valued.”
“You said some were banned.”
She nodded, “Political reasons, I imagine. And some moral.”
“Dubious content?” I asked, knowing that I could have said more specifically ‘sexual’
“I suppose you could say that,” And her eyes sparkled. “Sexual would be more accurate—-I haven’t read them.” She added with a quick smile.” But with all the hundreds of books around me, do you know which one I keep by my bedside?”
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