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Saturday, December 1, 2012


Yet another ripple, yet another icy tremor, yet another child abuse scandal seeping out through the cracks and dirtying fingers grubby with news print.

I grew up on the edge of countryside. This was the 1970s. There were great rolling hills and brooks thick with snaggling weed. Days were spent far, far away from home, breathless, cheeks flushed. Me and my pals, me often alone. Skinny and weak me, except for my uranium mind. Electric pylons fizzed overhead against the slate skies of winter. I was gone for hours, there was no time out there, no clock murmuring, no caw of the phone.

That uranium mind had unspeakable thoughts. It stripped my teachers naked. There was Mr Harris, the slacker mangod of Religious Education, moustached and grand, and he filled a tight speedo. That I saw in the swimming pool. I imagined him with Mr LeTissier laid out on the floor, eager to touch, but I couldn't figure out how they would do that. What came next? Couldn't say. Mr Laker, gym teacher, stripped with us boys once. I saw his penis, I did. I was squinting nervously, head bowed. It was fat in a bed of lush orange hair. He never touched us, he never lusted over us - at least, he never touched skinny, stupid me with the uranium brain. And my memory begins its fail from here on, the names no more than a brittle echo, but in the hot school summer there was he, the deputy head, who stripped his shirt off proudly, like Brits do at the merest threat of sun. I stared, in fleeting fast gasps and wished I could touch those perfect nipples, through his chest hair and snake down to his belly. Maybe if I dare, down down down. Envelop me, you. But no, of course it wasn't gonna happen. Funny how I still remember how exquisite his nipples were, and with such distraction available on the computer screen! They were the best nipples in the world ever. Fact. And when he moved on from our school, Mary my classmate sent a request to Radio One to the Breakfast Show. Dave Lee Travis actually played it. He's in big trouble now, right, that Mr Travis? Grubby and in the news. Mary asked for Chicago: "If You Leave Me Now", for our deputy head. He came in the classroom that morning and she blushed and we laughed. Later she said she used to hang at his apartment all the time.

When I was a kid all I had was hills far as the eye could see, with no one hurtling across them except me. I hated my childhood, its dazzling interior and my radioactive imagination. Kids today have so much though. They are bombarded with stimulation I never got. Perhaps unfairly, to me they can seem harsh, and ugly inside. They enjoy a world I never got, but it seems they're trapped. Maybe it's that which conditions them. They have to be a phone call away. They cannot stray beyond the perimeter of their front yard. Everyone is a potential predator. The world tells them to love their childhood, because that's as good as it gets, and they want to believe it, which sucks the innocence out of them in the noir of vampiric dreams. These kids, grounded and catty, are nothing like I was. At their age, I ran and I ran, believing things had to be better than this one day, and they were.