J. H. P. Cash, 367

When I Were Nowt But a Lad 22

That summer holiday was a little strange for me.

Guy and I exchanged letters almost by return. Mike was also writing. My mother had made some comment about the number of airmail letters I was receiving and noted, one day when I received two letters together, that the handwriting of one correspondent looked "rather childish" and of the other "rather adult". I grabbed the blue flimsies from her before she could examine the return addresses, realising as I did so that there had been plenty of previous letters on which my mother could have seen the addresses. I muttered something about having some privacy now that I was 15 and in the Sixth Form.

"Nearly 15," My mother pointed out, "and not quite in the Sixth Form yet."

Despite a few previous admissions, I really didn't do the stroppy teenager thing very often. Apart from my basic nature, I had been upset and annoyed when my brother had got into that stage and had raised the tensions in the family (and the volume of the rows) to new heights. I could “do” stroppy teenager when necessary, however, and that summer I seemed to slip into the act quite easily.

I stomped up to my room.

Understanding from my brother's experience that arguing could be quite effective, but was emotionally draining, my main weapon that summer against any investigation, or, indeed, simple inquiry, into anything by my parents was an instant sulk. They too, I think, had learnt from dealing with my brother, and usually chose to accept the sulks as a form of capitulation. Nevertheless, when my school report arrived (sent by surface mail) I remember that my parents expressed some surprise that most of my masters and my Housemaster had, as usual, commented on my mature and sensible behaviour, since I was being "quite the little bastard" at home.

I protested that I had volunteered to help my mother with her good works, and she just looked at me and said, "Yesssss...". I had stomped away again before any qualification could be expressed.

The day that Guy’s and Mike's letters arrived together I spent several minutes, having retreated to my bedroom, deciding which to open first.

Since I had made my momentous confession to Robin about being fucked by a master a school, only for him to laugh at it, I had felt almost light-hearted about Mike. It had been intended to be cathartic in that I could have sobbed out all my misgivings and all my guilt at my enjoyment. But instead it was cathartic because I'd said the worse thing I could about myself (no, don't even think about a response to that) and Robin hadn't backed away from me in disgust.

Still, somehow, I didn't want what I had with Guy mixed up with what I had with Mike. Even to the extent of reading their letters close together. I put Mike's aside to read the next day.

Guy wrote that an old friend of his father had recently been appointed Anglican Bishop in a small African nation and had asked his father to join him to help run mission schools. If his father decided to agree, the whole family would be going and Guy would be attending one of the mission schools. "If it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me," Guy wrote, and I wondered whether he was just parroting something that his father had said. And then I immediately felt guilty, because it was exactly what Guy would have said without any prompting. I was still outraged. I read the first paragraph of the letter several times, and then read on, hoping to hear that the idea had been dropped, and the offer refused. But Guy wrote on about how his Dad really admired the new Bishop, who had been "something of a mentor" to him when he'd first been ordained. And he wrote about the country and the work that the church was doing there. This was the era of "liberation theology" in some parts of the Catholic world, and the Anglican church had its own radicals, more committed to development than to evangelising. Guy sounded proud (and a little smug, frankly) when he wrote, "and we wouldn't have servants there like you do."

The letter ended with the slight, but bleak, compensation of, "Of course, I'd miss you and Andy (and Dab!) if it happens, but I'm also a bit excited. Best Wishes, Guy." We'd agreed on "Best Wishes" as the appropriate way of signing off, just in case our letters were read by anyone else, but I'd always previously read the words as "Love".

I wanted to ring Guy's Dad and object to the whole idea. But I didn't have their number, and, anyway, international calls were still expensive and difficult - we'd only just reached the point when you no longer had to book calls to the UK a few hours ahead and then be connected by the International Operator. We didn't have itemised bills, of course, but I felt sure that if I called International Directory Inquiries (did they even exist?) and then got myself connected to a vicarage in Cheshire, somehow my parents would find out. And anyway, right then I was unable to work out the time difference - when should I call?

I could send a cable. No, of course I couldn't. How would Guy's parents react to a cable from Guy's fellow stamp collector from half-way around the world?

I wrote a furious letter to Guy. The country to which his father had been invited hadn't even been part of the British Empire - they spoke French there: what was the Anglican Church Mission Society doing there anyway? Wasn't missionary work just cultural and spiritual imperialism? And, anyway, wasn't the cultural and spiritual imperialism franchise for that part of Africa held by the French Catholics? Not very ecumenical, was it, muscling in on their territory? (OK, yeah, I probably didn't say anything quite as coherent, or stupid, as that - but I don't have my original letter, while I do still have Guy's.) And I was sure that the mission schools were all very well, but, really...

I didn't post the letter that day. A little pathetically, I wanted to go to the Main Post Office the next day and buy some particularly spectacular stamps to put on the letter. Maybe triangular "Birds of the Jungle" stamps would help to sway things my way.

The next morning I re-read the letter I'd written and I re-read Guy's. This time the "plan" all sounded much less definite: Guy had written about how he was excited, but there was no hint about his parents' thinking. My letter sounded over-wrought, silly, and, of course, didn't say anything about what I really felt. It was all about what a stupid, outrageous idea the move would be, but it didn't mention that I loved Guy and would not merely "miss" him if he didn't return to our school. But should I risk saying that? And would it make any difference anyway?

There was one sentence in Guy's letter that felt particularly painful on re-reading: "After all the stories you've told me about what things are like where you live, I just think it would be fantastic to see what it's like living in a tropical country." Why hadn't I learnt to stop boasting about my home?

I re-wrote my letter. I tried to acknowledge the wonderful opportunity that the offer represented. I was sure that Guy's dad (who I had met once, very briefly, when he'd come one Sunday to preach the sermon at Evensong) would be a great missionary. I suggested, however, that perhaps Guy could stay at our school and just visit his parents for holidays, as I did mine. Our school had specifically been founded for "the sons of Gentlemen and Clergy" and vicars’ sons all had discounts on the fees. Perhaps the school could be persuaded to grant Guy a larger scholarship, and then his parents could afford holiday flights (Guy had mentioned that the CMS wouldn't pay for flights for children at school in the UK). If he stayed at our school, Guy could have "the best of both worlds".

I thought hard about how to end the letter. Nothing I could think of could possibly do what I wanted: to express my feelings for Guy powerfully enough to move him without freaking him out and running the risk of his parents reading the letter and understanding exactly what I meant. Eventually, angry with myself for my indecision, I wrote, "If you do leave school I will miss you very much. Best wishes...." I couldn't risk "Love," but I did risk a solitary "x". As soon as I posted the letter I decided that it was all wrong. Why hadn't I written, "...I will miss you very, very much"? Why had I added the kiss?

I told Robin about Guy's letter. He just said, "I'm sorry." When I started trying to explain my feelings and my doubts about my letter Robin just stopped me and said that I couldn't change anything by worrying.

"You won't hear anything for a week or so, will you? You going to spend all that time just moping and going over and over it all?"

"Probably," I admitted.

"Let's go to the waterfall instead," Robin suggested.

Having fun seemed like a betrayal of Guy. But having fun is fun. Robin's resolute refusal to read anything romantic into our romance actually helped. Everything about him, even when we were snogging in great passion, seemed to say, "Don't take yourself so fucking seriously." Had the phrase, "Get over yourself," been invented Robin wouldn't actually have used it, but he would have expressed it very precisely.

And then there was Kai. Well. Kai and Jannek, actually. They were the sons of the new consular attaché at the Danish Embassy. Diplomatic families didn't need settled expatriates to help them acclimatise: they had their own support networks, their own constant round of cocktail parties. But my dad had met their father as he'd made his rounds of businessmen and, discovering that they had sons of the same ages, had invited the family over for dinner. Robin's family were invited too, perhaps because the kids were also of similar ages, perhaps because my mother always quite liked an excuse to have Robin's parents, definitely "quality", to dinner.

Robin's family were already there when Kai and Jannek's arrived. The mother and father, I realised later, were both extraordinarily beautiful. I honestly don't remember noticing what Jannek, my brother's age, might have looked like that evening (indeed, he is still rather indistinct now). Kai had acquired all his parents' beauty - masculine and feminine.

"Kai" was the name of one of the mags that Mike collected and I'm afraid that my first response to the real Kai was to imagine that he'd stepped straight out of the pages. He had long (shoulder-length) blond hair parted in the middle. If I'd known what low-lights were, I'd have thought that he had darker low-lights in it. I hardly need say what colour his eyes were, but they were a quite startling, cornflower blue, but, again, somehow with darker low-lights. A slightly large nose, perhaps, but it worked because he had a wide mouth. Yeah, yeah: luscious lips, big white teeth, life-enhancing smile. Slim body. Slim, long fingers.

I don't think that teeny-bopper fan mags for pre-teen girls (and adult paedos) had been invented in 1973, but, actually, Kai was much more suited to the front cover of one of those than to the centre-spread of his name-sake mag.

When introduced to my parents both Jannek and Kai shook hand smartly, with a formal little bow of the head and a click of their heels. I was a little stunned. My only previous experience of such formal salutes had been watching war films in which the Nazis behave like this. Jannek and Kai, however, didn't look quite like Nazis, in flares and denim shirts. And I knew that Scandinavia was about as far away from fascism as you could get. That they performed the same little nod and heel click when they shook my hand confused, and impressed, me even more.

"And this must be Tim," said Kai's Dad, turning to Robin. "We have nearly a 'Tim' ourselves, of course."

The confusion was sorted out. No, there was a Tim, around Robin's age, but he wasn't actually in the country at his point. I wanted to explain that he had dropped out of Polytechnic but understood that showing myself up as a spiteful little brat might not go down well with the beaming Kai, who actually seemed to like his brother. The rest of Robin's family were introduced - more heel-clicking and bowing from Kai and Jannek. Even more confusing was that their parents didn't go in for this at all. They, in fact, seemed more casual than was usual, with their mum kissing all the adults lightly on each cheek (something which, in our society, was only done by small children, under great duress, to their great-grandparents). Their dad gave the impression of back-slapping, in a dignified way, without actually slapping any backs.

For me there seemed to be a golden glow around the whole family (even if Jannek hadn't made a huge impression). They all spoke excellent English, but with, of course, slight accents. Even though I had grown up in a multi-cultural society and been at primary school with a huge diversity of kids, this family seemed very exotic. And my Copenhagen stop-over (see Little Spurt 10, below) meant that "Danish" implied something way beyond bacon to me.

During the evening everyone stood around talking politely. Kai and Jannek answered the inane questions of the adults charmingly and asking well-judged questions back, being wonderful ambassadors for their country. At dinner I found myself this time happy to be on the "young persons table", separated from Kai by Robin's sister, Sophie. I usually reserved my sulky, petulant side for my parents, brother or Dab, and so accepted this placement without outward protest. Across the table Jannek and Robin sat together, very comfortable with each other.

I actually liked Sophie a lot. Girls of my own age (well, any girls at all, really) were a bit alien to me at this time. At primary school I'd had a number of friends who were girls and had never gone through an "Ugh, girls!" stage. I remember a two-family holiday we had taken when I was about 7 or 8. My brother and the two boys of the Australian family with whom we were travelling opted to ride in my parents car while I happily rode in the back of their vast Holden station wagon with the two daughters, reading their "Jackie" magazines but not, as far as I remember, playing with their dolls. At about 9 my best friend had been a beautiful Anglo-Chinese girl called Penelope, the daughter of our dentist and his Scottish wife. I did play with her dolls. And, along with two other Anglo-Chinese friends, Duncan and Malcolm (the sons of another Edinburgh-trained medic with a Scottish wife), Penelope and I had played "Doctors and Nurses" in a fairly restrained way.

Once I'd started at boarding school in Britain I hadn't so much avoided girls as simply not wanted to join in with mixed-sexed activities. In the holidays I still swam sometimes for my State Junior Swimming Team in competitions against other Malaysian states, and the boys’ and girls’ teams for these competitions trained and competed separately, but socialised together. I just wasn't very good at parties.

But Sophie had been in my class at primary school. Prior to this summer she and I would probably have been more usually companionable, if the occasion arose, then her older brother and I. Robin was his friend.

Sophie was obviously quite taken with Kai as well, but she kept sat back in her chair, including both Kai and I in the conversation. My initial disappointment that she had been put between us by the seating plan faded as I realised that she was much more at ease asking all the questions of Kai that I would have wanted to, but would have fumbled over. She was friendly, relaxed and funny; she could gently poke fun and evoke only smiles. She did actually make some quip about Danish bacon (which I would have handled completely ham-fistedly) and, when Kai looked blank, explained, in a way that deprecated Britain rather than Denmark, that bacon was what Denmark was most famous for in Britain, apart, perhaps, from bicycles. She mentioned the advertising line, "Good bacon has Danish written all over it." Kai laughed and said something about the British being famous for roast beef and bowler hats while I struggled to think of a way of asking whether he had "Danish" written all over him, but ending up muttering something like, "And Danegeld, too; not just bacon and bikes."

"That's not very polite," said Sophie. "We're friends now and it's not like Kai's a Viking or anything. And there's the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square."

I held back, but Kai said, "Well, actually, that is from Norway. But I'm sure that we would send one if they didn't."

Thinking about Kai's body with "Danish" written all over it, I half-listened as he explained that he and Jannek attended a boarding school in Denmark. There were not many boarding schools in Denmark, unlike "what you call your "public schools" in Britain" and the pupils tended to be the children of diplomats and other expatriate Danes.

"It is said to be 'the Eton of Denmark'," Kai said, "but this does not say much as there are so few such schools. Most Danish kids think being sent to boarding school is like a punishment."

"Oh, so do British kids," said, Robin, who had overheard.

I blinked at him. That's not how I thought of boarding school. As he knew. i realised then that I didn't really know whether I preferred to be here, at home, or there, "at Home".

As we finished dinner and the adults lit up their cigarettes, Kai said something in Danish to his mother. She shrugged, and Kai took a packet of 555 State Express from the top pocket of his denim shirt. He offered the packet politely to each of us at the junior end of the table. Robin and Jannek took ciggies casually. Sophie demurred. I looked at my mother, who looked away. I declined.

"You have very short hair," Kai said to me. "Is this a rule of your public school?"

I regarded my hair as quite long. It was over my ears and collar now. I'd have to get it cut before I went back to school.

Kai blew out smoke and shook his head, his long, straight, dark blond hair seeming to rise and float down onto his back. Both Sophie and I looked at him in admiration.

"The British are very traditional people, aren't they?" Kai asked. Jannek and Robin had moved over to the modular room divider that had quite recently replaced the wall between our dining room and living room. Robin poured two large brandies.

"You have a Royal Family too," said Sophie.

"Oh, yes, sure," agreed Kai. "But we don't really care much about them. Not in the way that you do."

"Isn't your boarding school very traditional, then?" I asked.

"Well, yes, in a way. What aristocracy we have left goes there, I suppose," said Kai. "But it is really very progressive, I think. As is all education in Denmark."

I began to think that I might easily dislike Kai. But then I realised that he was only a Danish version of me.

Both Sophie and I laughed at the same moment. Not exactly at Kai, nor with him. But in recognition of some sort. He laughed back. All remaining formality between us collapsed. We forgot our nationalities and instead talked about the country in which we all now lived.

Meanwhile, Robin and Jannek had arranged that we'd all meet up the following day to use the swimming at Robin's house. Sophie looked as pleased as I was.

Kai was not that good a swimmer - relatively few years of his peripatetic childhood had been spent in warm countries. Sophie and I tried to improve his basic technique. Despite the presence of several polystyrene kicking boards , (the usual buoyancy aid for stroke practice) I decided to hold Kai by his waist in the swallow end while Sophie moved his hands in a more efficient, effective breast-stroke. When we got round to his kick, Sophie insisted that my support wasn't required - Kai should just hold the rail at the edge of the pool. We were still at the shallow end. I stood behind Kai and, holding his ankles, showed him how to do a proper 'frog-kick'. That this involved pushing his legs up, then out and back quite widely spread gave me a lovely view of his inner thighs and Speedo-clad arse.

Then we got Kai to put the lessons together and he swam slowly, but much more elegantly away from us down the length of the pool. Sophie and I stood in the shallow end, watching with pride. The she turned and gave me a little smile, perhaps simply acknowledging a job well done, but perhaps also acknowledging our complicity and rivalry.

Later that afternoon, after lunch, I showered with Kai and we headed round to the back of the bar building to the changing cabin. Jannek and Robin followed close behind, but that still didn't stop me looking at Kai as he slipped off his swimming trunks. He was actually 13, so a little younger than I, just as Jannek was younger than Robin. He turned to pick up his towel and so I only glimpsed his cock, uncircumcised, slim, but long, hanging lazily over small, tight balls. I couldn't see any pubes. He started towelling his back. I still watched: his bum was visible.

"You have a lot of homosex in your boarding schools, don't you?" Kai asked, lightly, turning round so that his naked front was towards me again.

I just stared at him. Robin laughed. "They do at his school!" he confirmed.

"But not at your school, Robin?" Kai asked.

"A bit," Robin admitted.

Jannek, now also naked, joined in. "Kai and I were discussing if you two were boyfriends?"

"No," said Robin.

"Not really, I guess," I acknowledged sadly.

"This is typical, no, among boys at public school? One partner is just sexual while the other is really homosexual?" asked Jannek. He too was naked now. Robin and I still had our swimming trunks on, perhaps trying to preserve some decorum in this unusually frank discussion.

"Perhaps," I said.

"Yeah, can be like that," said Robin. "Sometimes both the guys are just, you know, doing stuff. Doesn't mean anything."

"But you are homosexual?" Kai asked me. He was sitting down on the bench now, not bothering to cover himself.

A little defiantly I replied, "We call it 'queer', actually."

"Oh, but that is an unpleasant word, surely? That is why homosexual people are using the word 'gay' now," Jannek said.

I looked at him. He was smiling.

"Yeah, well. I'm gay then," I said, looking away.

"Cool!" said Kai. "We had assumed so. You look at Robin in a special way, and you are attracted to me, aren't you?"

I was a little lost. If anything like this conversation had taken place at school, it would all have been disguised beneath banter and innuendo.

"It's so obvious, isn't it?" agreed Robin, just as I was about to ask, "Is it so obvious?"

My next question was pre-empted by Kai. "I am bisexual, I think. Jannek is straight." A pause and a smile, "Now."

Jannek flicked his towel at him.

"We had better get changed." said Kai. "Sophie will be getting lonely."

We went inside, where it was cooler, and played Risk. Not a game for sentimentality, and I was soon in dire straits, having allied with Kai, only to be betrayed and hounded into a last stand in Kamchatka.

Years later a friend of mine would define "bisexual" as "pre-gay". Then, watching armies of plastic sweep back and forth across the Risk board, I tried to work out what Kai meant by calling himself "bisexual". David Bowie had called himself bisexual and many people thought that that meant that he was queer. But Kai's straight-forwardness suggested that he'd not bother with any such euphemism. Boys at school who had supposed girlfriends in the holidays didn't describe themselves as bisexual - they were straight, but just happened to have sex with other boys. And Kai knew I fancied him. And he didn't seem to mind. But did he fancy me at all, at least more than Sophie?

A few days later, Robin drove Jannek, Kai and I in the Mini Moke to "our" waterfall. Sophie was otherwise engaged. Although fascinated by Kai I'd almost decided not to harbour any hopes. Robin, after all, was a definite. Kai was lively, friendly and nowhere near as serious as he had at first seemed, but I just sensed, for perhaps the first time, that a knock-back from him would really hurt.

Robin accompanied Kai in his first trip down the rapids and I joined Jannek. We tussled and splashed each other, just as Robin and Kai ahead of us did. Jannek was very attractive in his way, I now realised, but despite our light wrestling I was more concentrated on Robin and Kai. Robin must have noticed my discomfort.

"Right, now you know the way down, it's every man for himself," he said, heading back up the rocks by the side of the rapids. In subsequent trips we ended up in various combinations and alliances, splashing and ducking each other. When we grew tired, we floated on our backs in the calmer pool at the base of the fall. Robin came up behind me and ducked my head under the water. My nose filled and I fought back, spluttering and quite angry. He grabbed me from behind. The pool there was deep enough that I couldn't quite stand, while Robin just could. He held his arms around mine as I cooled down. I could feel his dick hard against my lower back. He reached down a hand and felt mine through my Speedos. I was hard immediately. Robin nuzzled into my neck.

"We can't, now," I said.

"They won't mind," Robin said. Jannek and Kai were still floating on their backs, eyes closed.

Robin took my head in his hands as we had all practised countless times in Life Saving classes and moved us back into the water. I lay still, a dead weight, while his strong, lazy kicks carried us to the bank. His cock kept bumping against my back. The flat rock we normally used was scattered with our rucksacks, discarded clothes and towels. I stayed treading water, still a little shy, as Robin cleared a space and laid out four towels.

"Come on!" he urged.

When I looked back to check on Jannek and Kai, Robin grinned and took off his Speedos, kneeling facing me and starting to stroke his dick. I took off my swimming trunks under the water and flung them at him. He caught them and threw them over near the edge on the beach, near where the trees began. I climbed onto the rock and Robin stood up, so that I could kneel in front of him and take his cock in my mouth. One last look over my shoulder at the floating Danes, and I leaned forward to suck Robin's dick. He pulled his foreskin back so I could suck on the exposed head. It tasted of the river water as well as his own taste. He pulled his dick out of my mouth and wiped the exposed head along my lips and down my cheeks. He'd never done this before. I tried to follow his cock with my tongue, licking at it. I sensed something - perhaps a slight movement of Robin's head. Kai and Jannek were treading water a couple of metres away from the rock. Robin grinned down at me, holding the back of my head with the hand further from them, so they could see as he pushed his dick back between my lips. He seemed a little mocking, triumphant.

I felt ashamed that he was showing off how he could use me. I felt excited that he was showing off how he could use me. I took one hand from where it held his bum and started wanking myself, making sure the Danish boys could see. I felt challenged to shake the coolness of their attitudes towards sexuality. I thought of the magazines I'd seen in Copenhagen. Their naughtiness seemed so different from the calm, easy approval of "gay" people. It was like theory and practice. I was queer and would put on a good show. And, of course, having Kai watching was very exciting.

They swam right up to the rock and held onto it, lying out flat on their fronts now. They took off their swimming trunks, slapped them onto the rock and stated stroking their pricks as they watched. None of us had said anything.

I fumbled in my rucksack, not lifting off Robin's cock, for the little jar of Vaseline. I made a show of licking Robin's balls, my tongue stretched out as far as possible, before lying on my back on the towels and dipping into the jar. I glanced over at Kai, and was happy to see his arm moving just below the water. He smiled. I greased my bumhole and handed the jar to Robin. He refused to take it but stood over me while I wiped the stuff onto his cock. When he knelt between my legs, the Danish boys rose out of the water. Kai sat cross-legged beside us and Jannek knelt.

I wanted to look at them, but my knee, pulled up to my shoulder, was in the way. Instead I looked at Robin as, one hand holding my other leg back and one at the base of his dick, he pushed into my bumhole. I could make out Kai's upper arm moving rhythmically again. As usual, I winced a little as the head of Robin's dick went into my anus. Kai reached out and stoked my forehead. His cock all the way into my rectum, Robin grabbed both my legs. I could reach out myself now, and tried to find Kai's dick. I could only reach his thigh, and stroked that. He did not move so that I could touch any more of him, but his hand went back to his dick and his upper arm moved again as he wanked.

As if to display me, Robin took my ankles and pulled my legs wider apart, holding them straight. Now I could see Kai and Jannek. I was surprised to see that Jannek's erect cock was not much bigger than Kai's, although it was surrounded by a mass of vary dark blond hair. With his cock hard Kai's long foreskin still only came back half-way over his cockhead as he wanked. I wanted to pull it all the way back. My hand was still on his thigh but as I moved it his knee shifted slightly. I stopped. I went back to giving a display, taking my hand off Kai's thigh and wanking my own cock, pulling the foreskin right back with each stroke.

My wanking and Robin's dick in me made all other sensations seem to fade. Jannek and Kai were blurs, exciting because they were witnessing Robin fucking me and me enjoying it, but the vague hopes I'd had that they might join in disappeared when Robin pushed my knees up round my ears again and leaned in to kiss me. I started spunking against his tummy. Robin slowed his fucking.

"I'm not going to spunk again," I said, realising what he hoped for. He had done this before, getting me off and then continuing to fuck me until my prick hardened again and I started pushing back on his cock again.

Robin ignored me. I turned my face away from his and from the other boys, looking over to where my swimming trunks lay. The discomfort lasted a minute or so and then the feel and thought of Robin's dick gliding in and out of my hole started to revive my lust. Neither of the Danish boys had said anything the whole time. I looked at them and smiled, almost apologetically, admitting that, yes, I was up for more. Would Kai like a slut? Would he like me more if I wasn't quite so enthusiastic a bumboy? What did bisexuals like their boys to be like?

The hand I stretched out towards Kai's cock was this time lightly streaked with my spunk, but this time he let me touch him. I pulled back on the foreskin, but he laid his hand back on mine to stop me. I just stroked him. He unfolded his crossed legs and knelt up beside my chest. Jannek shuffled closer on his knees. I wasn't hard again yet, but I was enjoying Robin's quickening thrusts. Sometimes I had spunked again without even getting hard. As Robin started his grunting approach to spunking, I turned my head and said to Kai, "You can..." I wanted to say, "...spunk on me." But I didn't. Kai took his cock back and started wanking fast. I felt Jannek spunk on my leg. Kai held himself back until Robin was pulling his cock out of my arsehole, then turned half-away so that his spunk spurted onto the rock. I decided not to wank myself off again. Maybe Kai would like to do something later.

"You are lucky, enjoying your friend so much," Kai said to me. I just nodded and dived into the water to wash myself off. We all stayed naked now. When I got Kai on his own on the climb up the rapids I finally screwed up the courage to ask him, “What does it mean that you are bisexual? I mean, I know what it means, but what does it mean for you? Do you like Sophie? She likes you."

Kai grinned broadly. "Yes, Sophie is very nice, and very sexy. But I don't think that she wants to have full sex yet."

Had they discussed it then?

"Yes. She says that she is not ready. Perhaps next summer."

"Uh huh," I nodded, as if I understood. "And the homosexual bit of you? Who do you like?"

"Oh, Robin, of course. Can't you see?" Kai laughed.

I hadn't seen, no. "You fancy older boys, then?" I asked.

"Not only. Some men I like."

"Not boys your own age?"

"Oh, of course, sometimes at school we play together. But it is not serious."

I must have looked put out.

"You don't mind that I like Robin, do you? You are not boyfriends, are you, after all?" Kai checked.

"No, it's OK. It's up to you two if you want to, only..."

"I wouldn't if you said I should not."

"No, it's not that, only I was hoping that maybe you and I could do stuff." Why did that feel such a huge thing to say? At school, if I was as sure about the other boy's sexuality as I was about Kai's, it would have been a light-hearted come-on. Now, with Kai, the phrase "do stuff" seemed childish, absurd.

Kai was ahead of me a little. He stopped climbing and turned to me, smiling. "Of course we can play. That would be good! Let's go up here." He indicated the nearest point at which the jungle would allow us to move under its cover.

I was instantly hard. Kai took just a step off the rocks onto the soil under the trees and turned round. His cock was hard too. I moved to him and hugged him. He hugged back briefly but then separated us. "Just play, yes? Let's jerk each other. Sorry, "wank"."

I didn't just want us to wank each other off. I wanted us to wrestle in lust, and eat each other like wild animals. He was so beautiful. His blond hair was so wonderfully long and straight. I wanted to see it splayed out behind him as he lay on the forest floor beneath me.

He took hold of my cock, putting an arm around my shoulder. I took his between finger and thumb, easing back the long foreskin. He did the same for me.

"Your skin is very loose," he commented. "Mine is too tight. Maybe I will have to have an operation."

I shuddered at the thought of Kai being cut. Not just the pain he'd endure, but the violence to the beauty of his cock. I eased his foreskin back to the point that he sucked in his breath. I leaned over and licked the half-exposed head. He relaxed and let me suck him briefly. But then his hand urged my head up. He took my cock in his hand again and we started wanking each other, arms over shoulders. This was reminiscent of my days in the Junior House. It wasn't enough. I leaned in to try to kiss him, but he turned his face away.

This was mad. Couldn't we even kiss?

"Kai, "I said, "if you don't want to do this, we can just stop."

He grinned at me. "No, this is good. But we are just playing, OK. Not making proper sex."

"Why not?" I thought.

Kai answered the thought: "You are not so slim as I would like."

I didn't even take it in at first. "You're so beautiful," I said.

"Thank you," Kai answered, almost formally. He could have clicked his heels and bowed in acceptance of the compliment.

Then, maybe, he noticed my distress even as it came upon me.

"I prefer older for proper sex..." he said.

"And thinner..." I said, a little bitterly. A little?

Kai recovered everything, simply by leaning forward and kissing my cheek.

We wanked each other off and continued our climb to the top of the waterfall, jumping in and whooping our way down.

Kai rode home up front next to Robin. Jannek and I sat in the back. He was so smooth, so friendly, so funny, but I didn't fancy him at all. He'd spunked on my leg, but we just shouted at each other over the noise of the Mini Moke like any 14 year-old and 17-year-old whose parents knew each other.

That night in my bedroom I suddenly hated the recently-installed air conditioning. I switched it off and opened all the windows, shutting the mosquito screens but nonetheless unrolling my mosquito net from its frame above my bed. I switched on the large overhead fan to its lowest setting and lay naked on my bed, my bedside light on.

There was no way that I had ever been a hot sprog. I didn't have blond hair and blue eyes. I wasn't slim, but I wasn't fat. I had been "chubby" at some points, but now, looking at myself, I just felt, well, as if my body was featureless. I thought of Andy, whose body was so wonderfully sculpted. Sculpted simply by his being, his existing at all. I thought of Guy, whose body had seemed unformed at the beginning of the previous school year, but was gaining definition.

I started. It had been a week since I'd sent my letter to Guy.

How easy it would be to feel sorry for myself. Instead, I looked down my body and started flopping my limp cock back and forth. It got hard. I looked down my arms. I raised my legs, as if to be bum-fucked. Wriggled my toes, looked at the muscles working in my thighs as I brought my knees up. Looked at my hardening cock. Stroked the still light bush of pubes.

I quite fancied myself and put my left index finger into my mouth to wet it with my spit. I may have seen a film featuring a mirrored ceiling above a bed. I wished I could see my finger as I pushed it into my bumhole.

I flicked through who it could have been bumming me: Jannek, Robin, Robert, Kemal, Mike, Iain, Mike. Kai. But then it was just my finger. I watched my wrist as I fucked myself with my finger. Watched my other hand work on my dick. I was sweating. The cicadas were screeching outside. I felt immensely happy.

A letter arrived from Guy. I took it to my room and opened it with my Swiss Army Knife. The mission thing was all off. Guy would be back at school next term. No explanation. Just, "Dad's not going after all." My joy was restrained only by the absence of any sense of joy in Guy's letter. He prattled on about his holidays.

"See you soon. Best wishes, Guy." he ended. Not even an "x".

I remembered Mike's letter - ten days and I had not even opened it. I found it at the back of a drawer in my desk. I looked at the familiar handwriting. I remembered, or thought that I did, that Mike was sometimes kind and funny. And even if he had not been, at least I knew what he wanted. His very deliberate, conscious games were somehow more understandable than the games other people played. I seldom had to guess his meanings.

He'd spent a week in Spain, a favourite country: he spoke fluent Spanish. He hinted about boys hanging around outside tapas bars or diving into the harbour. In the last paragraph, suddenly, all guardedness was abandoned and he described one boy who, "drank my spunk like wine" and who, "begged for my cock up his arse."

The letter had been lying in the drawer. We were supposed to make everything we wrote deniable. Yet here Mike had sent a paragraph of explicit porn. Explicit porn that I didn't even know whether I believed.

The telegram containing my 'O' Level results was sent to my father's office and my parents read it before I did. I had got 1s in my favoured subjects, but also a couple of 3s, a 6 and an 8. 6 was the lowest passing grade. A 9 was the lowest grade you could get. Although not exactly devastating the results were vaguely disappointing. Actually failing in one subject seemed to take the gloss off the better results. Mind you, I had anticipated failing Spanish when I discovered that the word I'd looked up to be able to answer the almost inevitable question in the Spanish oral exam about my father's employment actually meant a “rubber” in a game of Bridge, rather than the substance. I had been intending to say, “My father is in rubber”, so perhaps the error wasn't as bad as it could have been.

I'm 14!” I protested when my parents echoed my own disappointment.

You were 15 the other day,” my mother reminded me.

For the first time I remember I started to wonder whether it wouldn't be easier to come top in a class of age-mates rather than be 3rd, 4th or 5th in a class of older boys.

What had actually been a wonderful holiday ended with me feeling ridiculously self-pitying. I had given up writing poems about being misunderstood and alienated when I was about 13 and a half, and I was too much of a “straight” (it meant something else then) to paint my bedroom black and alternate Led Zeppelin and Leonard Cohen on the turntable.

I was pissed off with Robin, Kai, Guy and Mike, despite the fact than none of them had done anything to hurt me. I was pissed off with my parents, despite the fact that they had allowed me huge freedoms that summer – indeed had facilitated all the trips that Robin and I had taken. I was pissed of with my exam results, despite my Housemaster's “Congratulations” at the end of the cable.

Chuh! Young people back then, eh? Didn't know when they were well off.

A week after the telegram, just before I was due to leave to fly back Home, I received the blue airmail letter I'd prepared and left for my results to be sent to me in before my father had arranged for a (much more expensive) cable. Initially the letter just reinforced my self-pity, but, re-reading it – the list of subjects in my own hand and the grades against each in my Housemaster's – I remember feeling the first stirrings for a sense of determination

I was, I decided, glad to be going back to school. Even if I was leaving three days before my birthday and getting back to school a day before anybody else. I was allowed to leave school a day or so early to catch a flight because, my father pointed out "nothing really happens at the end of term", but I wasn't allowed to be late for the start of term despite the fact, as I pointed out to my father, nothing really happened on the first day of term. It was okay, though, I decided: until I realised that, three days before my 15th birthday, I was still officially an "unaccompanied minor".

It had always amused me a little when my older brother had sometimes been forced to tag along in the "unaccompanied" herd long after he'd turned 15 because he still wasn't old enough to formally accompany me and some of the more officious "Aunties" had told him that he had to stay with me. He'd soon got the hang of disowning me completely when we travelled together. Now I was to understand his frustration at the restrictions of being "unaccompanied". An "Auntie" collected all the boarding passes and we had to wait in a stuffy departure lounge until all the adults had boarded, then head for our designated seats. I complained to the "Auntie" that I wanted an aisle seat in the smoking section and she just scowled at me. Three months earlier that would have worked, but my parents had been scowling at me all summer; my immunity was strong. I dragged my BOAC flight bag down the back and found a seat in the second-to-last row next to an elderly lady wearing a fur coat. She gave me a smile.

When the final headcount of the unaccompanied kids was one short the "Auntie" sought me out and told me off. "Oh, he is a big boy: leave him alone!" said the lady, doing a very good Sophia Loren imitation. "I'll look after him and he can look after me. Can't you, dear?"

"Don't blame me if you don't get your tin of sweeties," the Auntie said.

We introduced ourselves. She said she was "the Contessa di Caproni". She certainly looked as if she could have been.

As soon as the "No Smoking" light went off after take-off the nice lady offered me a cigarette and gave me her gold Dunhill lighter. "Would you light it for me, dear?" she asked, indicating her own ciggie. I thought briefly about doing that "Now Voyager" thing and lighting both in my mouth, but her filter was already smeared with lipstick. I lit our cigarettes separately and she blew a grateful cloud up towards the overhead lockers. I followed suit. A hand laden with rings pressed my arm on the shared seat arms. "Darling, could you nip back and ask one of those nice girls for a gin-and-tonic for me? The trolley will take ages!"

"Um, the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign is still on."

She sighed at me, a little disappointed in her aide.

As soon as the sign went off, she tapped my wrist. "Get two of those silly little bottles, and two tonics."

"It's not for me - it's for the Contessa," I told the stewardess.

"We're just stocking the trolley now," she complained.

"I think the Contessa may have had a few already," the steward helping with the trolley muttered.

"The gins are just there," I pointed out. "And she'd like a separate glass of ice. Please." As the stewardess got the ice, I picked out three miniatures of Gordon's and slipped one into my blazer pocket.

"Thanks ever so much," I said, politely, as the stuff was handed over. "She's a lovely old lady, the Contessa."

"Take an extra. It'll be ages before we get down the back," said the steward.

"Oh, what a clever boy!" the lady exclaimed when I dumped the spoils on the table she's pulled down ready. "Are you sure you should have a double, 'though, dear?"

By the time the trolley reached us, we'd downed our drinks. All the debris was on the Contessa's table.

"Madam?" inquired the steward, and then, with a teensy hint of sarcasm, "Sir?"

"Same again, please, darling," said the Contessa.

I think perhaps the young gentleman might do better with a Coke?” the steward suggested, with a not-unfriendly smile at me.

Oh, don't be silly, darling: he's keeping me company,” the Contessa scolded.

We each had another double.

The Contessa had been flying, she told me, for nearly 60 years. Her husband had been an early aviation pioneer. “Then,” she asserted, “no sane person would go up in one of those things sober. It has been my practice ever since.”

She had led an incredible life and had been everywhere. I was fascinated and she was charming enough to appear to be fascinated when I told her about my life (the expurgated version).

When I asked for wine with lunch the steward smiled and said to the Contessa, “He's a big boy, Madam, but he's drunk.” She sighed, again perhaps slightly disappointed in me.

I suppose that he is, yes.”

Have a Coke, eh, love,” smiled the steward and ruffled my hair.

I felt flattered and outraged at once. How dare he ruffle my hair! How dare he called me “love”! But the easy intimacy was somehow reassuring. There seemed to be an understanding that I didn't understand. I didn't quite understand the look that the steward and the Contessa exchanged either, but it seem to suggest a warmth that included me.

What a very lovely young man,” the Contessa remarked as he removed the tin foil from her lunch.

Yes,” I agreed drunkenly, realising that it was true.

None of this could happen today, of course, but if a similar situation were to arise now, I sometimes like to imagine that the steward might have whispered, as the Contessa left at Rome, “Your first fag hag, darling? Congratulations. Good choice. Class act, that one.”

Little Spurt 10

Probably the Best Sex Shop in the World

Briefly, SAS were offering flights from Manchester to Copenhagen and an onward flight to my home. This involved a stop-over for a night and a morning, despite working out cheaper than flying via London.

My brother and I were given vouchers for the airport bus to the Palace Hotel in the centre of Copenhagen, further vouchers for meals and a coach trip around the city the next morning, and then left to look after ourselves. At this time my mother was collecting modern Danish glasswork and my father had commissioned us to buy her something. The main shopping street was just around the corner from the hotel and we set out to find the shop that the concierge had told us would be best.

All the shops seemed particularly smart and modern, and the street was reserved for pedestrians. We wandered past the brightly-lit windows until we came to one displaying lingerie, sex toys and a variety of magazines. My brother grinned at me and led the way in.

I was wearing my school blazer, grey flannel trousers and House tie. I was, I think, 13. I'm fairly sure that this must have been before Mike had shown me his porn collection. I remember being amazed that, not only that this sex shop was in a main shopping street, but that it was full of apparently respectable people, many obviously couples. In Britain "porn” shops were necessarily seedy and hidden in back streets (not that I'd ever been in one before). Scandinavia had the reputation at the time of being particularly permissive about sex (in Britain, "Swedish Girls" were constantly cited as particularly sexy and "easy"), but I had never quite understood how civilised this permissiveness was.

My brother and I were allowed to browse for about ten minutes before, it having become obvious that we weren't actually going to buy anything, one of the assistants told my brother that I was too young to be in there. In that time I gazed in wonder at displays of sex toys (in many cases unable to work out their purpose) and flicked through a variety of magazines. The Bestiality section caught my attention, if only because I don't think that I had previously heard of this specialism. Impressed by some photos of a woman sucking and being fucked by a Labrador in one magazine, I reached for another to find pictures of a woman being fucked by a horse.

My brother was over in the straight section. I wandered over to the area where the mags had pictures of naked men on the covers. Next to it was a section of magazines with naked boys on the cover. Inside there were photos of boys of all ages that ranged from tasteful black and white portraits to pictures of boys fucking. I wanted to linger over some of the photos, but there seemed so many magazines to look through. My cock was hard and I cautiously adjusted it in my school trousers to try to make it less obvious.

I wish that I could remember which photo it was that finally took my full attention, but I really can't. Suffice it to say that it was the only time in my life that I have literally come in my pants without even touching myself.

As I put the magazine back on the rack my brother came over and asked me why I was looking "at that stuff". I didn't know quite how to reply. Surely it was obvious why I was looking at that stuff?

That's when the assistant came over and I was sent outside to wait while my brother (not in school uniform) continued his perusal. Eventually I was bored enough and uncomfortable enough in my soggy underpants to go back just inside the door and suggest that the glass shop would be closing if we didn't hurry.

We dined at the hotel and my brother went off to "have another look around". We were sharing a room, so I was actually quite pleased to be left alone to remind myself of the pictures I'd looked at and wank myself off at least twice. I was so excited that I almost hoped that my brother would come back frustrated and horny and want to get into bed with me. But I was asleep when he returned.