Blimey. I admit to a couple of “innocent” 1950s gropes and my friends come out the closets with a bible of similar experiences When rationing was king, contraception rare, sex before marriage an issue,the dirty sheets of Philip Larkin normal, groping was what happened. Alan Bennett’s, History Boys tried to show how teenagers knew how to handle and even humour the whole experience.
One of the saddest parts of the understandable but exaggerated concern about paedophiles is the fate of those great, crypto gay , school teachers. Before 1970 they stalked the boy schools of the land. They devoted their lives to the cause they loved. Young men. Sometimes they crossed the line,some were punished ,many weren’t. They were after all not only symbols of authority,they were authority. But most knew the difference between officiating at cold showers,beating bare buttocks,getting excited about the XV and actually laying hands on flesh.
As well many were great teachers , inspired ,they devoted their whole lives, all their creative powers to the objects of their desire. How many adults today owe their confidence,the spark that set them alight to the enthusiasms of these men. Teachers who today who would be forced into unnatural and painful marriages or the civil service where their passions would be pissed into the sand.
No school can now have dark corners, secrets that dare not say their name, any teacher who is not married is obviously and probably suspect. So we look back on another age,where the vicar had his favourite choir boys,the tobacconist gave sweets for cuddles,the teacher had his pink faced clever boys who sat at the front,the cricket coach would take the first XI for tea in the local hotel.
Good riddance. Of course,but as they know only too well in the Roman Catholic Church, God moves in mysterious ways.
Of course this apologia may be borne out of an age where authority was accepted without question. We took our beatings(and our gropings)with honour. Ten years later in the last year (1969?)of corporal punishment in State Schools, I helped hold down a lad who was not playing the game and refused to take “it like a man”(or a fool). He probably didn’t think much of a good groping.
Twenty years later in the 90s, as a governor of a major girls’ school I had to stand by as girls regularly accused or threatened their male teachers, usually when they had failed to homework or some project. We had to suspend a teacher for six months while we investigated , what turned out to be a frivolous and malicious complaint. How the wheel has turned. We were groped and never complained. They complain because they know the system is only too ready to believe them.
And with the scandals in the church, special needs schools etc.and of course Sir Jimmy it is easy to forget those dedicated bachelors who with all their faults,kept their hands in their pockets and dedicated their lives to the education of generations of young men. Thankyou.