It’s a Sin — My “Special” School Days
New to this story? Start here with chapter one
Chapter 4: Becalmed
I would like to acknowledge the contribution Bob Williams-Findley has made to several chapters of this story, this chapter especially, not so much the storyline but the format layout and flow, correcting some mistakes I made. Your time and effort are much appreciated.
Being a boarder meant you were allocated an artificial family, you were given a house mother. Which could be confusing to a child thinking you had two mothers. Doubly confusing for me as both my real mother and my mother were called Elsie. I could not fault my house mother.
Without my Housemother’s (Miss Elsie) care and kindness I would never have survived my time at that establishment. Throughout my stay there she was one constant figure I could rely upon. This did not end when I left school, she maintained a constant correspondence with my mum enquiring upon my wellbeing. This was maintained for 30 years until the letters and Christmas cards stopped and we realised she was no longer with us. This I know she did with all her charges and if you consider she worked there 40 years, she must have spent her well-earned retirement writing and receiving letters. What a remarkable woman.
But the system was seriously flawed.
I recognise that traditionally caring has been a profession mainly for women, going back to Florence Nightingale in the days of the Crimean War. Not until fairly recently has it been deemed an appropriate career for men.
Nowhere has this been more detrimental to the recipient, than in the care and support of young disabled adolescents and men during the years when sexual awakening and exploration occur. This awakening is seen as something quite natural in our non-disabled peers, in fact, it is actively encouraged. Yet in disabled people it is seen as unnatural and actively discouraged.
When active enquiring minds are not challenged in the classroom, the likelihood is they will explore and expand outside of the classroom: more human biology was learnt in the classrooms by enquiring teenage minds than were ever taught during school hours.
Let me take another detour. This period was before the independent movement began. Heroes such as Paul Hunt and Ken Davis were just being introduced to their future partners, never mind challenging the institutions charities and society by demanding that they were able to share a bed and their bodies. A rebellious, revolutionary act that would eventually lead to disabled people living independently within mainstream society with the support of Personal Assistants, participating in life in a way that their non-disabled peer citizens had experienced for centuries.
When you envision house mothers you think of grey, middle-aged matron types…
… and whilst there were many fitting that picture there were those that did not. Some resembled House sisters whilst others could only be described as House hotties.
So, my readers, I ask you to place yourselves in our position: imagine frequently having your intimate parts washed and dried by young ladies who were not much older than you. This is something many other boys could only have fantasies about in their wildest dreams.
The truth is that could not be further from the reality, for if you exhibited any sign of pleasure let alone being aroused, then the wrath of Hades would be brought with full force upon either of your heads.
So, a coping survival mechanism strategy had to be constructed very much mind over matter, where your brain had to train your body not to react.
I remember the one time the trick slipped and the look of horror and revulsion that crossed the lady’s face; it struck me straight in the heart. I could almost hear her whisper, “boy don’t you fuck with me, don’t you ever fuck with me”.
So, you train your brain. The head on your shoulders must keep the head in your boxers in check at all times. No matter how enticing the music from the snake charmer — the snake must never lift its head from the basket, or it may end up in a casket.
What you must know is that this has long-lasting, devastating repercussions that can last for years: when you do manage to find yourself in an intimate moment, when appropriate response is desired by consenting partners, you are unable to respond no matter how much cajoling you may get. It takes a lot of untraining and retraining to reverse years of self-control and being denied the most basic of desires. As a result you can be left embarrassed and alone in bed at night.
Of course, the threat of passion did not only come from the female care staff; there were other staff to ensnare you, tempt you to have unclean, sinful desires.
I remember my first crush, when I was nine or ten years old, was for a teacher called Miss Rose. The reason I remember it so vividly was because my Dad picked up on it and teased me me endlessly over it, singing a little ditty that went like this “Rosie you are my possie, you are my heart’s desire” within her earshot. This embarrassed me to the core, which only made him sing it more. It wasn’t that he had a evil bone in his body, he just had a wicked sense of humour. Something amongst many things I inherited from him.
Needless, to say my infatuation soon became the talk of the school, or that is how it seemed to a shy me, which in turn made me blush like the reddest beetroot, whenever I was in her presence, which in turn made me even more self-conscious.
Another reason she stuck in my mind was that she dated a Community Service Volunteer called David Gunn, so turned from a Rose to a Gunn. I don’t know why this struck me as funny, but it did.
When I said earlier that there were no male carers that wasn’t strictly true. Every now and again they would send CSVs to the school, both male and female. Having these young men come into the school had a profound effect on my psyche. They were male role models, as well as showing that there was another way. I suppose in some ways they were the forerunners to Personal Assistants.
In my mind this was heightened in regard to David as he obtained something I couldn’t — namely, Patricia Rose. Unfortunately, the union did not last long! Another illusion shattered.
My boyhood infatuation burst like a bubble hitting the ground, like most such flights of fancy do. But not before leaving a profound long-lasting effect on me.
New to this story? Start here with chapter one
For another view of those school days, see Rob’s review of Paul Hodgson’s autobiography Give Them WingsPosted on May 28, 2021 #socialChange #SpecialEducation #Robert