I Never Said I Loved You

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 3

Naked to nude.

There is plenty to look at here, if you have a mind to do so. Quite a few of us do have a mind to look because you are looking at beauty. Swimming in the Millennium Pool is a mandatory everyday activity, winter and summer, and swimming costumes are so optional that no boy or girl would dare wear them for fear of being labelled odd. A nice irony.

Such everyday and ubiquitous nudity might clearly be a debateable issue for some. Boys and girls use the showers nude, obviously, so why not in the pool? Is there an essential difference? In their social education, boys and girls are made aware, or naturally aware of what boys look like when aroused, which can be anywhere and at any time, and for no reason. Every girl here has seen a boy with a hard-on at some time, not so unusual in the pool or in the unisex changing area, and I've not so far heard of any smutty talk going on. Boys play is very physical at times, especially in the water, and their bodies react to hands on their flesh. Healthy nakedness is an everyday experience here. Of course some of the older and more precocious boys will play games just for the benefit of the girls who might well have a second look but they would never remark on it. That would be a sinful anti-ethos thing to do. I always think that a bit unfair to the boys, as the girls have the advantage. Their arousal at the sight of a handsome pubescent penis is unseen whereas a boy's arousal tends to be in full view. Thoroughly unfair. As one girl commented recently, boys are so external .

You might think that there wouldn't be a uniform in a liberal place like this, but there is a strict winter and summer code, everything prescribed, right down to their almost unisex underwear. Functional kit we have, well designed and sensitively cut, and to my mind, very attractive. Gymnasium activities for all are conducted 'skins', even for 'budding' girls, and just unisex shorts worn. As I mentioned, we are nude in the pool, apart from any adults present who must wear an appropriate covering of some sort. After eight in the evening, the rule is relaxed for Leaders and Others, which is good fun. Boys and girls are excluded from these sessions, although a few Leaders think they should not be. I'm unsure about this. Field games require the same white gym shorts for all, and for the boys, nothing underneath please. This I don't agree with, as I regard a two-tone white cotton clad bottom to be a thing of beauty. However exceptions can be made in the case of older boys who clearly need something underneath. You can't have boys on Sports Day, parents all over the place in Ascot hats, wandering around in tiny white shorts [fashionable] with his bits poking out can you? Or perhaps we should? For the smaller fry, a little bit of jiggling about down there does no harm at all, apart from the excitement all that friction causes for our amusement.

Little boys apart, the older boy will react, if he's that way inclined, to a girl 'on heat'. A boy could never share a room with a girl at the onset of puberty. I've known boys and girls sent home when the possibility, or likelihood of actual coital sex between them is suspected to be a possibility. Sex between the boys, even the youngest, is very common. How do I know? They tell me. They tell me how, why, where and sometimes exactly when. We have, or should I say that there are very few secrets here, apart from those we really need to keep. But for the boys and girls, they can have no secrets. Our radar is out day and night, and every part of their lives here is known to me. That's my job; to know everything that goes on and share it with Robin Goodlove. Rooms are checked several times a night for unusual activity and very little will escape notice. It's not that I'm going to stop anything going between two boys, or more sometimes, but it's just that I need to know. Other signs of carelessness left by boys old enough, will be reported to me by ancillary staff.

Of course there are favoured places in the grounds and behind structures of one sort or another, used to enjoy and further relationships between boys and boys, and girls and boys, and between girls and girls. I have to know where they all are. If a boy is sent out of his classroom for some reason, it's likely I'll spot him or her, and it's very rarely a 'her'. Raif was one such the other day just before the summer half term break. Coincidentally he looks very similar to Ralph, our hero of the marooned boys' disasterous attempts to govern themselves in Peter Brook's film. He's a precocious lad, intelligent and cheeky, but if you delve a little further, affectionate and sensitive. I found him gently kicking the wall obviously frustrated with his dismissal from the English lesson, no shirt on, just his summer sandals and faded blue cotton shorts. He hears my approach and when he turns towards me, there's an angry face looking at me, and he has his hands deep in his pockets, turned inwards. I suspect there are two things going on here. He's one of our best swimmers, if not the best.

'Hello Raif. Sent out again? Come on, lets walk. Hand?'

That's another thing. Physical gestures have a great nurturing effect. Here, thank goodness, a boy will let me take his hand. The girls love it. But Raif is in an agitated state. I've found that water is a great way to alter the mood.


It's surprising how a twelve-year-old can react to a nurturing gesture. It sends an instant message which, ok, might be mis-interpreted, but never is in my experience. It's regarded as caring.

I took Raif to the indoor Millennium Pool, and as I sat on one of the chairs on the paved surround, he gave me his clothes. When I glance at his genital area, he notices my glance and looks down, and then back at me. I smile and raise my eyebrows. Raif smiles back. He's a nicely developed boy and he knows it.

'You're a sensitive boy Raif, and that's good, of course, but it will bring questions you want answers to. Don't be afraid to ask will you? I have some questions for you too, and as you know, I will have truthful answers from you. You have been sent out of class too often and we shall discuss the reasons, however long that takes. Do you understand?'

Any amount of time spent on boys like Raif, is well spent. It's uncanny how boys know you like them. I do like Raif. He has spirit, but I have a feeling he will struggle to avoid further problems here at Byrom House.

I watched Raif swim twenty lengths of the pool, four hundred metres, and timed him from the second hand on the large clock on the end wall. Although not his best time, it was close. His frustrated mindset had completely changed. I rubbed him down, gave him his clothes, and sent him back to his class. That evening he came to see me in my 'open' office at Herons, one of the estate houses which is my home here. We talked through the incident that got him dismissed from his class that morning. It's a relationship issue. The class were discussing the moral issues in a Golding novel. The boy next to Raif thought one of the characters under discussion 'a pathetic little drip' which annoyed Raif. Raif had aimed at punch at the boy. It turns out that Raif had seen the film adaptation of Golding's book and has not forgotten his rather strong feelings for the character under discussion. Simon. I was exactly Raif's age when I saw that film, and I totally agree.

'Raif, I'm going to transfer you to my House, Herons. You'll be sharing with Jacob Caslan in the smaller room. Ian Sharp will take your place in Swallows. No need to do anything. I'll have your things brought over tomorrow morning.'

I explain. I want to keep an eye on Raif because I have an interest in him. Herons has two bedrooms with two beds in each one. The House is reserved for four boys who have particular issues that need addressing. But essentially, all our boys and girls have issues that need addressing, some a great deal more urgent than others. Young Jacob Caslan is a bit of a lost lamb. Putting him and Ian Sharp together was a social experiment that hasn't worked as well as I had hoped it would. I'm going to try to bring out the best in Raif, being very careful that he doesn't bring out the worst in me. I can't resist sailing close to the wind. It'll be good for Raif to mind another boy; it should bring out his sensitive and loving side that I'm convinced lurks within.

'Jacob is bit vulnerable to boisterous types who don't think before they say something unkind Raif. He needs someone close to him sometimes to reassure him. Don't be afraid to put your arm around him at bedtime when he says his prayers. He'll appreciate that. Do you think you could manage that. You've got to be a bit more grown up now Raif. Jacob needs you.'

He might even manage a goodnight peck on the cheek? Jacob would love that. No disrespect to the lad who played Simon in the film, but the slightly feminine Jacob looks uncannily similar with his blond hair and pretty mouth. I wonder if Raif will rise to the occasion? I think he will. Time will tell.

I had left Andersson and Lucien in Paddington with some regret, and with a determination to do something about their plight. Robin, our Principal and Owner is the kind of man you can approach on any matter that concerns you, in fact that it is exactly what he would expect from all of us here. I have a nightly meeting with Robin during term time, always at six thirty sharp. He pours a dry sherry and we sit down and discuss anything we need to, no holds barred. We talk about the boys and girls who need a mention for some reason, anything of concern to do with the teaching staff, and general stuff to do with the workings of the catering, laundry, repairs, garden maintenance and so on. Academic matters don't get a look in unless there's an issue linked to another problem. John hit Jim because he said he was shit at maths. Something like that. It's the evening before the start of the second half of the summer term. With the minutiae dealt with this evening, there's the 'other matter' I need to broach with Robin. He gives me the perfect cue……

'How was London Rufus?'

'Good thanks. I ran into a very old friend as it happens. A bit of a story. Would you mind if I told you?'

When I had finished spinning my tale, I left a rather large silence hoping Robin would be interested in pursuing the matter.

'Hmm. Horticulture you say? How many do we have on our team these days?'

'Only three.'

'Is that enough?'

'No, not really.'

'Good. Your friend Andersson has a home here. What about the boy…….Lucien wasn't it? He could help around the place could he not?'

'If you can find it in your heart Sir?'

'Of course I can! Will you please sort out the accommodation issues; soon as possible.'

'There's room in the Lodge for one of them. As a temporary measure, I can find a space for Lucien with me at Herons.'

'Good. I'll leave it all to you Rufus. I'll have a word with Paul. Perhaps we can slip Lucien into a few classes. If he's bright as you say he is, he'll catch up well enough. Excellent. I'm very glad you brought this matter to my attention. Can't have a boy neglected like that. I will need to telephone his mother. Might be tricky as you suggest, but there's a decent chance she'll come round to the idea.'

She'll come round alright. She's desperate to be relieved of her responsibility. How many times have I seen that situation in social work. Parents who don't want their children around. Sad, but it happens. All I have to do now is sell the idea to Andersson, and Lucien, and with Robin's input, Lucien's mother. If it all works out, I shall be very very chuffed! I think I have the best job in the world.

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