About Max

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 7

Sailing……….

It was a Monday to Friday course at Burnham Overy Staithe. I took Max there, and Henry, every morning in the MG…..the soft top down of course which the boys loved, even if it was raining which it was one morning, albeit lightly. The only problem with the car was that it didn't have overdrive which is an electrical fifth gear and very useful on the new M11……..if you had it that is. Some models weren't fitted with it. It was a thirty minute drive from Waylands to the fast road up into East Anglia past Cambridge and on to the A11 into Norfolk. Teal blue….that's the colour of the car, with lovely chrome bumpers and bright work, and a light tan fake leather interior and black metal dashboard. Yes, Max and Linda adored that car as I do. We'd often go off of an evening to find a new pub I'd heard about……Warham and Stiffkey………places like that, with Linda in the passenger seat and Max sitting sideways on the ledge type seat behind us with his knees bent upwards in a slightly provocative manner. He knew perfectly well what he was doing of course……hopefully all for my benefit. He is adept at giving me little glimpses which I find massively erotic. It's now a regular diet of promises thus far unfulfilled. The more I am with Max, the more I love him for his gentle manner and warmth of spirit and his cheeky sense of humour, and never demanding of others. He was lovely with Henry too, always concerned for his friend…….a characteristic in a boy I greatly value.

'What would you like to do now Henry?'

'Can we play sailing boats in the garden please Max…..like we're tacking into the wind?'

'Good idea…..come on!'

Such sweet Swallows.

I have filled about ten pages of my sketchbook with Max now, and some of Henry too when he's been over for tea or whatever and the boys are interacting together. In most of them Max is nude, but with Henry they are both clothed, albeit minimally…….just a pair of shorts usually if the temperature allows. Henry has no idea that I work with Max nude, and when I say that, I mean both of us sometimes. Henry stays overnight at least a couple of times a week nowadays as I do, although I tend to avoid the nights when Henry stays but not always. I have 'donated' to Linda three times now, which rather puts me in mind of that old Turkish proverb I may have mentioned before….forgive me if I have……..'A woman is for duty, but a boy is for pleasure'. I always smile when I recall that saying.

I'm quite happy to do my 'duty' by Linda and by and large I have enjoyed it as the event is always spiced with a new revelation from her, usually involving an erotic tale involving a girl. Liz, her young friend from school, features mainly but things are beginning to happen with her teacher too. Linda is an experienced lover, much more than I am, and she knows exactly how to stimulate another body, and whether it's male or female makes no difference it seems to me. At the end of it all I get packed off to Max's room, which I'm sure she views as my reward for services rendered, in the nicest possible way of course.

I look at the sleeping boy and marvel at his beauty, marked now with a collection of bruises on his legs that are the inevitable result of three days boating activity I'm afraid, plus one minor cut on the bridge of his nose inflicted by a Topper boom when his little plastic one-man sailing raft decided to go about unexpectedly……as they do…….and an uncontrolled tack can be dangerous, and an uncontrolled gybe even more so. In the morning I hold Max to me as he wakes from sleep and he gives me his first smile of the day, but he's a tired boy this week………the sea air and demanding activity both mental and physical is taking its toll. He stretches his slim body for me now, I know it's just for my benefit, on his back and arms behind him and extending an invitation for me to admire him as he so often is when he awakes. He relaxes and turns his head towards me and smiles, one hand on his tummy, the other in mine, a knee resting on my bare thigh, skin to skin. He wants me to admire him, and I do…..my good morning boy.

'Hello Raf.'

'Hello Max.'

Silence while I try to guage his mood. His eyes tell me all I need to know. Despite his sleepiness, they sparkle, and his mouth is slightly open and his hand moves lower which speaks louder than words. I know that signal.

'You need to get up Max……..it's gone eight o'clock……you'll be late if you're not careful.'

'No I won't……… please……..just for a minute?'

'No Max……….not this morning.'

'Why not…….meany. Just for a minute then………please. That won't hurt.'

'You're a bad boy, do you know that?'

'Am I…………am I really?'

'No…………no you're not……….of course you're not. I do know what you are though.'

'Do you? What's that then?'

'Beautiful……..inside and out.'

'Really?'

'Umm…………..really.'

'Do I feel nice too……inside and out?'

'Umm……………you do…………..very nice.'

It may sound like I've consorted with hundreds of these little beasts….boys…….but I haven't…..really I haven't, but the ones I have known from quite an early age have always loved having their bottoms played with to a greater or lesser extent. Max is no exception. He knows what I will do for him and what I won't. This morning he knows what he wants me to do, and as I look at the small alarm clock on the bedside table I have to agree. He's right………there is time.

'Tell me about Adam again please…….I like him……..just the end bit……….after you met him on your bike ride.'

Max likes that little story, and he likes the way I'm stimulating him now……………very gently with the pad of my middle finger……………round and round and round. I paint the picture for him………the excited boy in the warm grass, naked now and open for me…….I'm thirteen and he's eleven………he and I in the grass in a Kentish field. Inside and out. He can't wait for the end of the story…….I know he can't wait long, and I can feel what's happening to him now. Afterwards, when he's finished, I hold him to me for minutes as his heartbeat slows, his face turned away as that little cloud of guilt gradually fades. His hand is still there though, the ends of his fingers just teasing the last of his pleasure from the tip of his slowly softening boy penis. There are several pearls on his tummy. I kiss his tummy and he turns and smiles.

'What's it like?'

My answer? Well, he already knows my answer.


I select his clothes for the day, which is something I like to do because it's about nurturing.

'Not those old things Raf. I thought mum had got rid of them. Can I have those bigger shorts then? '

'They'll do for today Max………………come on, we haven't got time to mess about. Henry's downstairs waiting.'

I've had my way. He's wearing those old shorts today. Max knows I like to see him in them, and he knows why I do, and they're perfect for boating. You don't want loose clothing in a dingy, which have a tendency to catch on something. Max pulls the white games shorts I've selected for today up his legs and with a little difficulty he wriggles them around until they are nicely placed, just covering his underwear. He made a meal of it all really, knowing how much I like to watch him dress. In its flaccid state, Max's penis is pretty average, but now it's making a noticeable impression. He looks at me and smiles…..

'Are they ok?'

'Yes Max, they're fine.'


It's also the last day of Max's course. He's enjoyed it and I hope he'll follow it up by joining the club in Blakeney. He's got his RYA log book neatly completed with each day's activity and duly signed off by the instructor……a very pleasant young man called Tim, who coincidentally, as I found out, will be in his last year at school when they go back. They're back on the Wednesday of next week, so just five days to go, and I know what this weekend will be like. It'll be all worries with Max, what with his visit on Monday. He keeps getting his uniform out just to make sure he has everything ship shape. He always wants to do the right thing. I'm sure they'll like him there. He's not met the Housemaster and his Assistant , but he will of course when we go on Monday. I agreed to go with him and Linda as I was deemed to 'know the ropes' as it were, and could ask all the right questions and so on. I'm looking forward to it because it's always interesting to see another equivalent place. Apparently, it's all quite new as it was refurbished recently. Anyway, we'll see soon enough.

I've painted Burnham Overy today. I thought it would be quite interesting to be around on the last day of Max's course. They finish at four as usual, with the last hour probably for the presentation of all the certificates and so on. They should all end up with the Elementary……..the basic RYA dingy sailing qualification. It's a good system and works well for kids, and adults too. I did all my courses at Dover which had a great guy in charge who was a stickler for detail and never let anyone get away with anything slack or sloppy. We learnt to launch and recover the boat the way it should be done, which means that you can then pass on the same disciplines as and when your turn comes to make that contribution to young peoples' lives.

It's twelve thirty and all the boys…..six of them and three girls as far as I can see, are having their sandwiches or whatever they've got, on the grass in front of the training centre, a large orange brick barn like building set back a bit from the harbour area. Max is sitting opposite a dark haired girl who looks like she means business. I know Max has had very little to do with girls, but I'm sure he can handle them fine, and I know there were several in his class. This one looks quite assertive……..a bit bossy maybe. Max has already mentioned her. Henry's with a group of four of the younger boys.

Max tries to deal with Emily…………..

'So what's so interesting then Max?'

'Nothing.'

'Yes there is……..why do you keep looking there then?'

'I'm not.'

'Yes you are…….. I can see you are .'

A pause while they exchange stares. Emily continues…………

'Do you always wear white ones then……………..white knickers?'

Another pause. Emily decides to tease Max in a way that sensitive boys don't like, especially if the boy in question recognizes a grain of truth in the accusation.

'Are they girls ones then? They look like it to me. Why are you wearing girly panties then? Are you a girly boy? You like my brother don't you…….. he says you do. [liar] He said last night that you keep trying to talk to him. He thinks you fancy him. Do you? That Henry's your friend isn't he? Does he wear little white knickers too then? I bet he does doesn't he? Do you play with each other then………you know………… like that . You do don't you. Look, you've gone bright red.'

'I haven't.'

'You have actually……honest, you have Max. So do you then………play with Henry? What do you do then………..go on, tell me? Does Henry make you come then? How often do you do it together? Go on tell me.'

A pause, while they stare at each other. Max is feeling cross and uncomfortable, and he has gone red and he is acutely aware of the fact. He has no idea what to say.

'So what colour are mine then Max? You've spent long enough looking haven't you….. haven't you ?'

Actually he does know the answer to Emily's question. They're blue………..pale blue. He knows that because Emily is sitting in such a way in those little shorts of hers that hardly cover her bottom as to make it obvious and she knows it. Max isn't aware of how he's sitting, but the shorts he's wearing do cover him, but they leave certain gaps when he sits as he is now, leaning back supported on one elbow, slightly sideways with one knee raised just enough. Max doesn't alter his position even now he realises. Max has seen other boys sit so that they can be seen like that, and he has looked…….and right now that little guilty secret has come back to haunt him which adds to his discomfort. And Emily's brother, a ten year old, is quite attractive, and……..well……Max has tried to start a conversation with him on several occasions, not particularly successfully it has to be said…….and he has seen the boy's penis. He saw it in the changing room when the boy was swapping his underpants for bathing trunks……….a sensible strategy which Max has decided against. They'd discussed it, he and Henry, and decided not to…..better to stay as they are, even though they knew they would be in wet things for ages possibly. They had both taken spares as a precaution. Right now, Max was regretting selecting, or allowing Raf to select, a pair of his new ones that were for school. They're proper boys ones of course, but more modern and quite stylish so…………

'Do you like him then………my brother Charlie?'

'He's ok I suppose.'

Emily is at that stage when she has become curious about boys. She knows what they look like down there because she's seen her younger brother naked enough times, and when his penis has gone stiff too because it often did in the bath. She wasn't supposed to go in there when he was bathing but on this occasion she did………

'Oh………sorry Charlie.'

………and saw what he was up to as well. Poor old Charlie was 'in the process' at it were……having a bit of a fiddle , as they say, in fact he was right at the end of the process and was in no mood to stop at that point so he didn't……….he just carried on not really noticing the intruder who didn't immediately say the 'sorry' bit, but preferred to wait the very short while it took for Charlie to be fulfilled. She'd never seen it before……a boy doing that, and she rather liked it. She thought that's how they did it but she wasn't absolutely sure. The girls had discussed what boys do with it, but there's no substitute for witnessing the event in real time is there? She knew of course how to do it to herself, and went straight into her bedroom, locked the door which she wasn't allowed to do normally, and proceeded to give herself one of the best orgasms she'd ever experienced in her brief sexual life. There's a very nice boy in her year at school and she thought about him and not Charlie thank goodness. She imagined doing to that handsome boy what Charlie was doing to himself, and it all worked very well. Afterwards, she thought about her brother Charlie, and decided he was nice to have as a brother. She resolved to be kinder to him.

All the other boys and girls had finished their packed lunches and scattered, having been told to be back at one twenty five sharp for the afternoon briefing. That left her……….what………….twenty minutes by her watch, a novelty one she'd been given last Christmas.

There's a path that leads east from the Sailing Club, not the main coast path, another one that runs behind some gardens. Emily had used it on the first day and noticed how secluded it was.

'I won't tell Henry then.'

'Tell him what?'

'That you like Charlie…….and I won't tell him either………if you come for a walk with me.'

'I don't want to walk anywhere. Why?'

'I'll tell him then……….what you said………..and Charlie too.'

Typical girl strategy eh? It worked because Max didn't want to take the risk………..not on the last day.

Emily knew a place where they could sit down and talk a bit more. Emily had a couple of questions she was dying to ask Max. Max tore a thick grass stalk from the plant and began to chew it.

'I've seen Charlie doing it.'

'Doing what?'

'You know…….what boys do……….to make themselves feel nice. I might still tell them.'

What harm could it do? After all she might actually do it…….tell Henry and Charlie and that would not be good, so he let her. Emily lay on her side and used her right hand while Max lay back but supported on his elbows, watching to ensure she didn't get things wrong. Her touch was gentle indeed as Max's 'girly panties' as she had referred to them earlier, were gently pulled outwards enough to get her hand inside thus gaining access to his private parts and as she did so he got hard quite quickly which she was rather pleased about. He looked much bigger in the penis department than Charlie, but then he's older isn't he?

'Can I get him out?'

'Yes, if you want to…..but be careful please.'

She carefully lifted the gathered elasticated waistband up over the end bit and then pulled the white material downwards.

'What do I do now Max?'

'Hook that bit under here…….like this, then it'll stay there.'

The hooking process had the effect of raising and exposing his two perfectly formed testicles. She studied the dark red veins that created a pattern of lacework where the skin was tightened over the little globes. She felt them in her fingers and funny waves went through her…….and she found herself actually liking the boy……and what a strange feeling that was. She found herself touching him differently now, not exploring so much as…..well……being with him if you know what I mean………something she was not quite expecting and that was much more consensual. She knew at this moment that she's got him where he was, and doing what he was, through her unkindness and she was beginning to feel bad about that. As for Max, he wasn't exactly not enjoying this unexpected experience.

'You can do it if you want……you know, rub it a bit. Do you know how to do it?'

'Not really…..show me.'

'Like this, but don't do it hard……just lightly like this, see?'

She started, but it wasn't right.

'No…….a bit higher…….here…….and quicker than you were doing it.'

'Like this?'

'Umm, that's better, but don't keep stopping.'

'How long does it take?'

It wasn't a great success mainly because Emily wanted a result far too quickly, and Max's mind began to focus on her irritation that spumes of semen were not immediately forthcoming, so to speak, and not on the job in hand. He was miles from getting a cum. Then something happened that neither of them were expecting.

'Charlie! Where the hell did you come from, you little shit.'

'I saw you walk off together so I followed you. I want to do Max now….go on, can I please? Please can I?'

Charlie had been watching from behind a bush, the little toe rag. But thinking that this was the best chance of seeing what she badly wanted to, Emily agreed to the boy taking over, and Max didn't interfere, as the idea of little brother doing him began to dawn upon him.

Charlie undid his shorts as he lay beside Max so Max could feel him inside. Charlie was hard already. The cute ten year old helped by extracting the rigid little thing, uncircumcised, from his bright scarlet underpants so that Max could grip it tightly, his balls too, altogether in one nice handful.

Charlie knew what to do, and proceeded to pleasure Max effectively, and in a short time Emily got her wish. As for Max, holding Charlie's penis helped enormously of course. There was an element of joyous playfulness about it, like kids doing something ever so slightly naughty, which it was of course, but pretty harmless too. In an odd way, united in their transgression, they became sort of friends at that moment…..like blood brothers if you like.

Brother and sister delighted in what Max had cleverly produced now reflective in the sunlight. Max had felt it coming…..that lovely feeling……and had made no attempt to delay the inevitable. No, he had focussed his thoughts on what he had in his hand that belonged to Charlie. With a couple of final squeezes of Charlie's balls and penis, he had come all in a rush, and strongly too accompanied by a little gasp of exhaled air. One blob of his cum had managed to get itself into his 'inny' tummy thing which Charlie decided had to be extracted with the tip of his finger and, typical boy, he wipes it on his grubby khaki shorts.

'What shall we do with it Max?'

'Wipe it off silly.'

'Let me do it…….I want to.' says Emily.

Carefully, like a dutiful wife, Emily does….with her fingers.

'It won't hurt you.' Says Charlie.

'What do you know about it then?'

The cute little ten year old knows more than he'd care to tell his older, bossy sister. Emily looks at her brother, freckles more noticeably now he's seen five days of good weather, and blue eyes full of mischief. She looks at her fingers, shining with Max's small gift.

'Shall I?'


The certificates were all duly presented to each of the budding sailors in turn. They all sat in a half circle on the grass and waited for their name to be called, then walking back examining their trophy, legs, arms and faces slightly more tanned than they were at the start of the week, despite all sensible precautions having been taken. There were battle scars visible on limbs and any form of hair style had gone with the wind, literally. They knew more now, after this week, about themselves and their responsibilities to others. Sailing does that……teaching youngsters that there's much more to this sport than just learning how to drive a boat, like weighing up the evidence and making decisions based upon it.

The course leader sent them away, watched by his youthful assistant Tim, with messages of encouragement and congratulations. I had been in that position a few times and I know how satisfying it is to capture their imagination with a first sail in a fresh wind and start children off on a path that some of them will follow for many years, and pass their acquired knowledge and love of the sport on to others, quite possibly to their own children.


Max was quiet in the car going back to Blakeney, and later, on a walk round the garden at Blue Cottage he told me what had happened with Emily and Charlie. I made light of it and we agreed that it was something that sometimes happens that way and it's no big deal. I think he felt he's somehow let me down. That would be typical of Max………..always thinking of others. He's not someone's lover yet, but one day he will be, and he will be a wonderfully considerate one I'm quite sure.

He chose to soak in the bath tonight rather than shower and he asked me if I would wash his hair for him. We talked about his day, about Henry, and about his new life about to start in the very heart of a city. The highs of the day had taken their toll, let alone the physical tiredness, and he became quite emotional at one point. But by the time I had dried him with a large bath towel he was our smiling boy again.

'Are you staying tonight Raf?'

'No, not tonight Max.'

'Oh……well can we run tomorrow morning then please……….to Salthouse church again………where that boy is?'

'But he's not there now Max is he.'

'But he is…..in a way…….isn't he?'

'Yes, I suppose he is Max.'

The boy that drowned with his father.

It was his sailing course………..the things that are said about the sea……….the dangers and the inevitable tragedies that can follow a life on it. Perhaps the boy is still there in Salthouse church…..busy carving the image, naïvely, as the point of his knife digs into the dark brown of the pitch pine choir stall, unseen by us now but still there all the same.

Max runs in front because he knows I prefer him there. I can watch him move and he likes to know I'm watching his body in motion…..the wonderful little machine that it is. It's a warm morning…humid already……sweat forming warmth……..our skin made shiny……..breathing louder……..Salthouse nearer now.


I look at the carved images again. I have to think of him now…….the boy that carved those images of ships………a mother's son…….father lost too……..but I know he is here somewhere. He is here.

Max has left the church……..I heard the great oak door shut quietly, the heavy iron latch close downwards and home with a metallic sureness. I find him in the churchyard looking seaward beyond the Roman sea wall to the blue grey mass beyond topped with streaks of high summer cloud. Max has never seen a man cry before, but I can't stop thinking about him. It's not just because of the boy that's gone now………..it's everything in my life.

We lie in the unkempt grass in the shadow of sandstone and flint, together and holding. My hand is on his back, and I'm making a track from his neck down to his shorts……over and over. His arms are crooked and in my chest…his face fits under my chin and I can feel his breath warm in my skin. His words are just audible…

'Will you miss me Raf?'


Sunday is a quiet day. I stayed at Blue Cottage last night after a really good pub dinner at Itteringham………the Walpole Arms. We took Henry with us as both boys are anxious about their new schools. Linda settled Max down at his bedtime. He was needing his mum. I looked in on him much later and he was sleeping……'First Steps in Latin' abandoned near his hand……..his 'Eatin Primer' on the shelf next to 'Swallows'. I bent over his head which was turned away from me, and kissed him lightly on the forehead, before joining Linda in bed.

She had seen Ana that afternoon and I could tell she was excited. Their paths had crossed on their way back from Blakeney via the farm. Ana had shopping from the small food market in Westgate Street as had Linda, so they walked back together. Chatting away, they had taken to each other and had agreed to meet again………perhaps for some tea at Blue Cottage? Yes, on Wednesday, that would be great as it was Ana's afternoon off from the farm. It had been some little time since my last donation of my semen, and it was due tonight, and I had saved myself in preparation. With Max at Salthouse, it had been difficult enough as he had touched me for the first time, probably by accident, possibly deliberately. He knows that's not on the agenda but it had happened and I found myself at a door which was ajar and waiting for me enter.

I had seen Ana just once. Linda had pointed her out as we walked through the farm one afternoon. She's dark, quite small, and pretty in a feminine way……in a girly way. Dark haired and dressed in a sleeveless white top and pale yellow shorts, she looked the age she is……about sixteen I would have said. Linda insists that she's eighteen but she's not. She's one of a number of foreign girls, and young men, who work here for the season, some of them helping in the newly built café and some just with the seasonal fruit and vegetables, mostly 'pick your own'. I guessed that she was from Romania, and I was right. She's darker in skin and hair colour than Max, but in build with her long legs, she might have passed for his elder sister. Now in bed, I built a fantasy around Ana for Linda's enjoyment. I based it on fact which she would relate to strongly because it was around how they met, and then into the realms of my imagination. How one thing led to another, how well they got on, the accidental touching and so on. It must have been good because Linda came quickly and suddenly, with loud gasps and quite painful grabs at me. She had actually bruised me, as I realised later. As she approached that moment of no return and her own imagination took over, I explored her with my mouth and tongue…… the delicate texture of her breasts and neck, perhaps more out of duty and kindness than anything else. I imagined it might have been Max's skin that smelled so sweet.

A little later……..

'Sorry Raf, you're a bit too good at that.'

'And a bit close to home maybe?'

We laughed. I like her, and I love it when she comes like that…..wonderfully expressively. For a man, woman, girl or boy………..an orgasm is an orgasm and is always an intensely erotic thing in my book, whatever your preferences. You know mine by now. It's the pleasure of making another male come gently, given the opportunity and rightness of such a situation, not selfishly, and within the context of affection, if not love itself.

Max is a boy whom I will always love, no matter what. It's unconditional and permanent……..at least for me it is. Time will change him, and not just physically, but I will remember him. It's strange who we will remember. [In Memoriam].

My 'donation' that night hadn't quite kept to plan, but I did manage it quite nicely in the end. Linda's little 'woof woof' sounds told me all I needed to know with regard to how she wanted to be mounted. That would certainly have been my choice too, but I would never have insisted upon it. I resisted the temptation to put it in the wrong place, although the sight of it was very alluring and similar to a certain other one I had recently seen, and of course it would have been a waste of my precious resources. Crouching as she was, she could still reach me between my legs and play with me nicely as I masturbated gently with the tip of my glans now just invisible and slippery. Then she turned her attentions towards herself. I could see that there would be no difficulty penetrating her fully and easily. After five minutes of very pleasant action on my part, and the effect of the circular motion on her clitoris, she was very close and so was I. It must have only been a few seconds before I thrust into her, pushing her hard into the headboard as we both let go. They were very animal moments I have to admit as I felt my warm semen flow through me and into her, deeply. We ended up in a heap on our sides laughing hysterically, but we'd got the job done rather nicely.

'Crickey………that was good Raf…..and it was actually you doing it. That's twice for me in ten minutes.

'Not a record then, but not bad so far?'

'So far? That sounds a bit ominous. So will I have a lot more to endure?'

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders as we looked at each other.

'You'll have me turn into a full-blown heterosexual man if you're not careful Linda.'

'Err……….I rather doubt that……..and by the way, I want her Raf………Ana. I want her badly. You don't mind do you?'

'I know you do, and no, I don't mind. It's what I want for you. She's very pretty. Do you think she will?'

'I'm not sure, but I think so.'

Monday morning, 09.30……………..the visit.

'You have to go through the archway into the Close Raf…………..look, there's the man by the box.'

'Have the letter ready please Max.'

The man moved towards the slowing car as I held the letter from the school towards him for inspection. He looked at it and indicated with his hand that we should go to our left.

'Then go right to the end………turn right and go through the big gates in front of you just to the left of the big building. They'll be someone in there to help you.'

The letter had all the information in it……when to be there, what to expect and so on. Max was very nervous despite my best efforts to allay his anxiety. That's perfectly normal. It's a big change for him. I had slept in his bed last night but his normal desires were absent for once. Mine weren't I'm afraid. Max went off to sleep reasonably well, but it took me a lot longer. Max slept nude but I didn't which was the norm. Somehow I managed not to disturb him, although I was severely tempted. He just looked so beautiful lying there……..the boy god that he is. I woke first, and very hard. He woke soon after and he was, as usual at that time, very hard too. When full consciousness and reality of the day's big event hit, that situation quickly changed.


In front of the large Victorian building was a group of about fifteen boys and their parents, mostly mums, and a couple of dads. We weren't the last. A nice jolly looking young teacher was chatting to a tall rather smart lady with her pristine charge standing meekly to her side. The nice young man offered the boy the occasional smile by way of reassurance. One boy had misunderstood, or rather his mother had, and was in his spanking new uniform, the rest were in smartish casual clothes. Max was in newly acquired Gap Kids beige shorts and white polo shirt and sandals….no socks……and apart from the very English style Clarks sandals, he looked very American and just the job. His styleless hair was nicely kempt, but not overly….just right. I am immensely proud of him. Linda has style which is always reflected in how Max looks.

There was a funny little boy, overweight and smily……….another who had too much to say for himself out of nervousness and a certain lack of confidence that made him want to be too assertive in the wrong situation…………..and another sallow creature who gave nothing away about how he was feeling. I looked at Max to see how he's standing. He does stand well which I've taught him whilst modelling for me……..hands held together in front and his weight not evenly spread. There was a quite stunning Asian boy with an equally beautiful mother…….a Chinese family looking confident, and another half dozen or so Anglo Saxon lads who would fit nicely into the 'reasonably attractive' class, assuming I was the one deciding……and at least two of them in the 'outstanding' category. I wondered if Max would notice them. While we waited for the last of the party, I managed to manoeuvre Linda and Max towards one of the handsome pair………a light brown haired boy about Max's height with a sweet face, slightly freckled by the summer light. I looked at him with my best benign expression and he returned it with a half-hearted smile…….the best he could manage on this slightly stressful occasion. I suspect he thought I was a member of staff. I enquired of him……

'Hello. Who are you then?'

'I'm Tom, Thomas Lomax……….sir.'

'Are you indeed'.

A quick 'aside' at this point. Do you remember Rowntree in the movie 'IF' when new boy Jute introduces himself? When stopped by Rowntree in the corridor he notices the fresh faced new boy, Jute, and stops him.

'Hello…who are you?'

'I'm Jute sir……I'm new.'

Then Rowntree, the beastly Prefect or Whip as they were known as, gives pretty little Jute the once over and says……

'Are you indeed.' and carries on. Oh dear, poor Jute is in for it I suspect.

Meanwhile……….

'Thomas, this is Max. Max, meet Thomas.'

Bingo! A moment of inspiration…….an instant friend…….and tons of spadework saved.

We toured the whole place………the dormitories, all remodelled and fit for purpose since 'His Grace' the Bishop [and his staff] was the only former resident, a small library, a large play area fully equipped with ping pong and billiard tables [scruffy], and a huge 'Reading Room' which was little altered since the Bishop's time, and dominated by a massive stone fireplace and two very tall windows with tracery and various Victorian gothic adornments.

Max and Tom had palled up. I looked at Linda and like me, we were privately overjoyed at their immediate apparent friendship.

'Well done Raf. How did you manage that you clever boy?'

'Ahaa…….just put it down to experience shall we?'

Max. That's our boy. Over time, I've made it my business to know a boy's mind, insofar as one can. You would have thought they'd been friends for years. Tom had questions for the smiling Max.

'Do you like games Max? Do you……so do I! Can you play chess? Oh wow! Do you think we'll be in the same dorm? Where do you live…….like normally…..when we're not here?' And so on. It all sounded a bit cheesy and 'frightfully this that and the other' but it happens like that as of course you know. Anyway it did smooth the way I'm sure for both of them.

After the Assistant Housemaster had done the donkey work, we all listened to the Big Cheese, Mr Webber, the Housemaster. He did the usual stuff, putting parents and boys at their ease, or trying to at least, saying things like…..

'I'm sure you will all be very happy here'……which meant they better had be or else! No, in this day and age, boarding staff are pretty good with the boys and girls, and really do work very hard to make sure they're as happy and productive as possible. These days we are very very accountable.

There were lists up in the social area housed in a sort of undercroft with a vaulted ceiling no less. There were lists about bath times, shower times, times to do their prep and where. Unfortunately Max and Tom were not in the same dorm. Max was listed as a resident in One, and Tom in Two. We had seen his name on the end of the new looking black painted metal bed frame. Max looked at the white label, and then at the one on the bed beyond his. There were three in a row with the same number opposite. His was between the other two. The bed to his left was a better one with a thicker mattress.

'Why is this one different Raf?'

'Probably a prefect or monitor's whatever they call them here. He's in here to stop all the nonsense…….keep you lot in order. They usually put an older boy in with the shrimps like you because they know what you get up to.'

'Like what?'

'I have no idea Max……things that boys do I suppose, like talking after lights out, reading with a torch….things like that.'

Max had a little think about that. We looked at the name on the superior bed……….Jonathan Fleet.

A little later Linda commented……

'That's a shame isn't it Raf. Pity they couldn't be together don't you think……..Max and Tom?'

I wonder. I might have a quiet word with Mr Webber………..no, not him……the other one……his sidekick.


If you love someone, you'll do you utmost for them won't you? Mr Webber's assistant is an amenable person who quite understood the situation. He was amenable.

'If it makes them happy, it makes us happy, so why not? Leave it with me.'

I was assured that an amendment was perfectly possible with a bit of relabelling of shelves and bed ends…….oh, and the bath lists could easily be changed if necessary.

Matron, who would have to have her say, unnerved us slightly when she said that some items on the clothing list were the minimum requirement and to be on the safe side it would be sensible to provide more of those things that boys need because they are often annoyingly careless in her experience with certain aspects of their personal hygiene. I looked at Max and he looked horrified. He looked at me and whispered….

'Does she mean our pants do you think?'

'Umm, I think she does Max. Don't worry, we'll get you some extras later.' He still looked horrified. Max is very good when it comes to his personal hygiene, unlike some lazy and careless boys I have known. She was right of course…..boys are careless when they're in a hurry to go and play or something.

The whole thing took a couple of hours, and at the end of it all we were ready for a break frankly.

We had one of those basic lunches they do at Jarrolds………..perfectly pleasant, and handy for the stationary department which is so vital just before a new school year. You will remember, or might even still be buying the odd ruler and protractor even now when in charge of grandchildren at the wrong moment in town on the last day of the holiday. The 'Oxford' geometry set………..it hasn't changed, pencils with rubbers on the ends, sorry, erasers on the ends? No, always separate erasers please. Then there's the issue of what sort of pen? A good idea to have both kinds……fountain and ball point……..just to be on the safe side. Oh…..and a selection of reading matter, not too highbrow please so as not to look too clever, but not 'Biggles'. Swallows and Amazons? Hmm……a bit iffy really. Something like 'The Haunting of Toby Jugg' might be good…….or perhaps a Poirot, or better still…..'My Family and Other Animals'?

There's a good selection in the book department at Jarrolds. Max spent ages in there before presenting us with his choices……..'Cider with Rosie' and 'Lord of the Flies'.

'May I have these please mum?'

I'd watched him searching the shelves and the various genres. He's growing up fast in every way and what a delight he is. I turned to Linda a little misty eyed I have to admit. She looked at me…….

'Oh Raf………you're going to be worse than me tomorrow night.'

She's right. I probably will be.

It had been bad enough yesterday at the morning service in Blakeney Church…….Max's valediction. He has to 'retire' as there's no possibility that he can attend Friday practices now. To mark the occasion, Max was given a very minor solo part, the first line of the three psalms for the day, sixty five, sixty six and sixty seven, and the first line of the Gloria at the end of each one. Linda and I sat at the back, incognito. Max knew we were there, but couldn't really see us. Just as well. The last was a William Byrd setting, and very simple to learn and perform…….and very moving in its simplicity. Before the sermon, poor Max was hauled out of the stalls to receive a small gift and a farewell from the vicar and congregation as thanks for his five years of service to the Church. The vicar followed this up with his talk on the theme of loyalty, 'which is very apt on this particular morning'…….looking sideways at the whole choir. Max dealt with his ordeal, something he probably wasn't expecting, pretty well apart from one single wipe of an eye with the back of his hand. He did better than I did. I had ample experience of those events in my own time as a chorister. It was a big part of our lives going back almost as far as we could remember, that was ending suddenly and for many it is traumatic, but Max's involvement has been far less than mine was, but nonetheless important to him.

We spent the afternoon quietly, not doing very much. We walked the usual paths after a really nice lunch at the farm café. Our mood was a bit sombre despite Linda's attempts to lighten us up. In the end even she went quiet. I knew things were coming to a head emotionally for Max and when he suddenly sat on the side of the path to Cley beach he put his head down onto his knees and both Linda and I knew it was important to let him get it all out for as long as he needed to. The three of us sat together on the grass bank, Linda one side of him and me the other to offer mutual comfort.

Crying. It's such a sweet pleasure….in certain circumstances. This was one of them.

We were fine after the crisis had passed, spending the rest of the afternoon making sure everything was where it should be……..neatly packed in the traditional brown trunk that I'd found in a charity shop in Holt, until recently, owned by a Greshams boy no doubt. The name G F HORTON had been badly painted over in white gloss paint but still visible if you looked hard, and I had painted in black capitals on top of the rectangle of white……..M. WHEELER.

Granny was taking Max into the City and he had to be there by six o'clock. She duly arrived to collect him at five and he was ready, booted and spurred, and looking wonderful in his full school uniform……….the almost luminous royal blue of his blazer, pristine white shirt with green and blue tie, and very smart long trousers and shiny new black shoes. Linda and I had witnessed the ritual preparation in his bedroom, from socks upwards, to the putting on of his blazer. He'd had his hair trimmed of course, still charmingly brushed forwards with no attempt at any sort of styling. So beautifully English. With the back seats of the Volvo down to accommodate the trunk, there was of course no room for us……..probably a good thing. In a matter of moments he was gone.


I stayed with Linda that night, and it seemed so quiet without Max. It was going to be ten days or so before we saw him again because they had to stay for the first weekend in order to socialize properly. That's not a bad idea……get them to realise they can't just run home whenever they like. They could 'phone home of course if they needed to, if they asked to. They would do this from the Housemaster's own phone in his office. It was essentially a private conversation, but if need be there were ways of listening in…….all in the best interests of the parents and the boy of course .

Neither of us felt like any form of sex that night. We both read for a while and then slept reasonably well until about six. I woke to find myself hard and touching her, and wanting her. Waking now, Linda smiled…………

'Tea?'

I needed space that day to contemplate……..take stock of my feelings as much as anything, so I set off for Brancaster Staithe in the MG. Linda was at school……her first day back too. I agreed to meet her at the Red Lion at six for a drink. She would need it by that time, and I would enjoy one as well after a hard day in the field. School? Rather her than me. It's a great moment when you know you don't have to go and face the little brats for once, as much as I love them. This was the real beginning to my sabbatical year and I was going to enjoy it. I didn't realise it at the time but two days ago, I had made the last of my drawings of Max.

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