Author's note

This whole saga started life as a short story. Its basic inspiration came from my reading of IOMFATS Wotcha Bennett - not that it resembles that story very much any more. This short story became the first chapter in the much longer story. However, on finishing the initial version, I wasn't able to leave it there: I became impelled into writing a follow on. This was Ashley, and, as far as I could, I also tried writing it in a different tone (or perhaps, to extend the whimsy of the quartet (see below) in a different key and different tempo). But then I was pushed into yet another follow on: Giles, again intended to be different in key. Further, each chapter is written in the first person but from a different point of view, and this technical challenge appealed to me. Closure was intended to come with the fourth part. These four stories can stand alone as being self contained.

Indeed, to indulge a further flight of fancy, it can be seen as a string quartet: the first movement being Nick (but a monothematic sonata movement); a pastorale for Ashley; a scherzo for Giles; a finale with Jack. And the finale is minor key presto.

To push the analogy further, to its elastic limit, Nick and Ashley are the violins (not sure who is first violin), Giles the viola, filling in the inner parts of the harmony, and Jack the cello, the bass note of authority.

However, the characters still had me in their grip, and despite the closure provided by James' chapter, I still wanted to go on. Hence the section with the two mothers. Here I have tried to be as honest as I could with their reactions: it is rare, I would think, for mothers to unconditionally accept their sons' sexuality. The story also moves on to the runaway section. Again, I don't know whether many parents would have accepted the boys' stubbornness as readily as these do.

Then came the section with Wayne and the night out. This puzzled some of my readers; they didn't see where Giles had popped up again from. But adolescent boys are pack animals, and although Nick and Ashley may be involved in one another, it needed be to the exclusion of everyone else. And I introduced another, peculiarly English theme: the class element. My initial trio were all comfortable middle class children, who lead rather sheltered lives. Wayne (and the class element intrudes simply in the choice of name) is street wise. And again, there was the interesting technical challenge of yet another viewpoint.

The final section may not appeal to many people who read this story. Why bring girls into a boys' love story? Again, to be realistic, I think the sexuality of many adolescents of that age is fairly plastic. It provides a closure of a different type. For again, being realistic, although many readers may have wanted the story to end with Nick and Ashley preparing themselves for a life of domestic pleasure together for the rest of their lives, sixteen year olds don't think like that. Straight couples don't. With the exception of those childhood sweethearts that occasionally make the columns of their local newspapers, this doesn't happen (although I have to admit that my own parents have been married now for 59 years!).

In the cliché, the path of true love never runs smoothly. Think Romeo and Juliet. If you are a teen out there, wondering whether you will ever find love, then look at your straight contemporaries. Do they have girl friend trouble? Almost certainly they do. Do not expect these things to be easy. But there are many resources out there on the Internet; many with good sound advice, and which will give you the re-assurance that you are not the only one. And most of them will answer all those questions which you have not dared ask anyone else.

I am very very grateful to "It's Only Me fro Across the Sea". Not only did he receive the story unsolicited, but has been kind enough to offer to host the story. Very many thanks.

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