Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Lost on the Rhine
Lost on the Rhine
The sexual education of children particularly those approaching puberty has, and always will be, a hotly debated issue. The basic findings of all surveys on the subject come to a similar conclusion; it is sadly insufficient. However with today’s technology and access to the WWW today’s enquiring minds can easily gain access to this often taboo topic.
Unfortunately this access can lead to pedophilia, kidnapping and other even more horrifying conclusions.
My casual, slow and satisfying education way back in the nineteen-fifties was gained purely and simply by the act of observation and some strange graphic drawings on a blackboard during my biology classes.
It was during my time with Gypsy Rose Lee as her assistant that the full use of my eyes came into play. This was due to the fact that Rose Lee demanded that I scrutinize every possible punter, so that I could gather as much information about them as possible.
In the early mornings before the punters arrived I used to walk along the shore-line and the promenade of Blackpool. I would occasionally find a young couple “At-it”, as the sexual act was described at that time, under the iron girders of Blackpool’s north pier.
In my wanders during the height of the summer season just after high tide I used to find the debris and residue of sexual activity, an assorted supply of used rubber-jonnies. These useful contraceptive devices, made by a rubber company in which the Vatican had a share, came in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes, but they were not what I was after. Apart from noting that they looked like dead jelly fish they held no interest for me.
I was on the look out for far more sellable items, like watches and jewelry which the sun-worshippers had lost the previous day. It was amazing as to what I would find amongst the broken sea-shells.
Some-days nothing, others a lucrative windfall, a rolex watch, a diamond ear-ring, a gold bangle.
Gypsy Rose Lee had a contact in the fencing-trade, known as Larry the fingers. He was a forger by profession but also dealt in the trading of what he called “Lost-Merchandise”, thus bringing him in an extra income while staying just on the right side of the local constabulary.
I used him many years later when I was tracking down my biological father and he arranged the five passports I ended up with when I visited Munich after the 9/11 incident. You’ve presumably already read about that in the essay called “Passports”.
I digress, my apologies.
Sex at a tender age was the subject that I wished to enlighten you on.
Apart from the delicate, although at times robust handling of my private parts by some fan-dancer friends of my mother, who said. “It’s better than doing it yourself Cess. You could go blind!”
I was in theory, a virgin till the tender old age of sixteen, when all was revealed to me in a broom cupboard on board a tourist vessel cruising down the river Rhine in Germany.
I was there as I was playing Brutus in Mr Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. It was a National Youth Theatre modern dress production and we were on tour in the mining town of Recklinghausen, in what was called West Germany.
The theatre was newly built when the coal mining company of the town “Swapped coal for art” just after the Second World War hoping they could give something back to the community, and make the fact, that they supplied Mr Hitler with most of the energy for his war effort conveniently disappear.
This was my second NYT tour to the continent.
The previous year I was playing Paris in Romeo & Juliet. I was only reminded of this fact when I received a copy, in the mid-eighties, of Simon Master’s book entitled, The National Youth Theatre.
Although he does not comment on my acting in the tome, my ability to make a fast buck definitely caught his attention as he mentions me in the second to last chapter, “Cess Poole spent a good part of the Romeo and Juliet season getting up at seven in the morning, walking to the local public house, The Enterprise, to swab down the bars and clean the tables, all for a few shilling and a free breakfast.”
At the time Simon was totally unaware of my ulterior motive in securing this employment and Toddie remained full to the brim throughout that summer season.
When the NYT toured the country they visited supplied them with what was called “A liaison officer”. On the Reckinghausen tour this officer was a very young attractive lady called Heidi, who certainly wanted to show her young charges the beauties of the area and the Rhine valley.
It was our first free Sunday with no performance and we were taken on a barge and chugged along the Rhine from Strasbourg to Colonge.
After a few slugs of Dutch courage from Toddie, I made my introduction, "Ich habe Deutsch in der Schule fünf Jahre lang lernen"
"Das ist sehr gut Cess, müssen Sie sehr hart studieren und dann werden Sie in der Lage, die großen Werke der Literatur der Deutschen lesen."
And on she gabbled like a Messerschmitt chasing a UK bomber thinking that I would understand.
I didn’t and we continued the conversation in pigeon German and English.
She was studying English in her first year at university and certainly understood the underlying implications involved in taking steady sips from Toddie.
I knew that Toddies contents were taking effect when she started changing all her “Sie’s” to “Du’s”. The latter being the more friendly translation for “You”. It wasn’t long before we began kissing and exploring with wild youthful abandoned hands under her great overcoat and my army surplus combat jacket.
We thought we’d found a secluded little hide-a-way to the rear of the vessel under the tarpaulin that covered a small life boat, till we heard the voices of fellow thespians congregating next to the life boat.
The cruising barge had just passed the magnificent Gothic cathedral of Colonge and they all wanted to look at it for as long as possible, so had swarmed the full length of the vessel and had moved to the stern to catch a last glimpse.
A healthy pause and silence followed until the voices died away.
Heidi said, "Lassen wir in funfzehn Minuten Andocken werden. Wir müssen uns beeilen. Ich weiß von einem Besenkammer auf dem Oberdeck. Lass uns gehen"
I understood kamer, gehen and Lass for room, hurry and go, and surmized that we only had 15 minutes before we’d be disembarking. So off we crept trying to avoid the rest of our party, and made our way inside the smallest broom cupboard on the upper deck you can imagine.
So it was amongst oily rags, buckets, hose-pipes and mops that I lost my virginity.
Sordid is perhaps a good word to describe it, but it was also filled with adventure, fear, intrepidation, anxcious pleasure, sheer ectascy, and all the other adjectival words you can find to describe your own sexual exploits.
Heidi and I continued our fly-by-night relationship for the whole of the following week before we had to return to the UK. In those days when international phone calls were expensive the trendy thing to do as parting lovers was to become pen-pals.
I am certainly glad we did, and although our relationship fizzled out two years later, the exercise of putting pen to paper has helped me write these tales.
Whether or not I learnt anything as regards sex education is another matter, but the dextrous moveability I devised amongst the mops, buckets and brushes could certainly be published in the next edition of the Kama-Sutra.