Wednesday 17 December 2008

Bernadette O'Toole

I'm wondering if a Bernadette O'Toole will somehow come across this post and realise it's about her...
If you do Bernadette, please mail me, you never quite left my mind...

Bernadette O'Toole always seems to be to me a kind of unexplained mystery. What was it about her?
Because it was definitely something, and something that looking back on it was quite- weird. The reaction she inspired.

It was in primary school days, and Bernadette O'Toole would have been at least three years older. She must have been, because we were in Class Four when we all started to notice her and she was in Class Seven.

I don't know why all we noticed her, as such, except she had her hair cut, going from long to short. I think she was quite pretty, certainly, from what I can remember. We would have been eight or so, she would have been- eleven.

All I know is that about that time, someone came up with a new idea for a game. And it sounded fun.
The first version had been very simple. We'd roam the back field as a gang and then jump one of the older boys from class seven and pull down his trousers. Or pin him down and rob his shoes. And one of would run as fast we could to the fence and see if we could get the shoes over the fence and into the canal.

I never managed to get ANY shoes over that fence.

Anyway, we found a version of the game that was slightly more fun...

What's odd about this, is that we never really took to kiss chase, when the girls in our own class made us play. If it was the girl's turn to pick a game, kiss chase it invariably was. When it was the girl's turn to do the chasing, even hiding in the boy's toilets didn't save you. (Yes, Helen Rawcliffe, you DID chase me in there, and me hiding under the coats didn't save me, did it? DIDN'T YOU, HELEN RAWCLIFFE?).
When it was our turn to do the chasing, we didn't tend to move with much alacrity. Those girls could wait. The fact was, chasing someone to pelt them with something was cool, chasing girls to kiss them was not.

But our name game was- well, looking back I can see something different to what I saw then. Back then we kidded ourselves it was one up from the pin down the class seven boys and rob their shoes. This version was, pin down the class seven girls and pull their knickers down.


Funny thing was, we were much more targeted about this.
And for some reason, Bernadette O'Toole, was one we loved to go for.
I don't deny, just seeing Bernadette O'Toole gave me a funny feeling. I might well have been only eight, but looking back, it was a crush.
And I think that had a lot to do with it. Did we understand the significance of pulling down her underwear? At eight? Well, of course not, we'd never even seen a picture of female genitalia, let alone real female genitalia, and if we had, we'd have probably gone 'Urrrrghh!!!'
But nevertheless, we all found something powerfully compelling about the idea of pulling down poor Bernadette's knickers.

One wonders if perhaps this wasn't an early sign of a faint glimmering of male lust. I mean, clearly it wasn't a sex drive, we had no real concept of sex. But what seemingly, six eight year olds boys had, was a desire to tumble in the long grass with a knickerless Bernadette, which none of them could explain, but it had become the most fun game they could think of.

I'm not sure she ever offered much resistance to it either. I think she quite liked the attention in some ways. Her little fan club come to pull down her knickers again. She used to laugh embarrassedly and wriggle, but I don't think she found it distressing. I don't think actually, we'd have kept doing it if she did. We were naughty Catholic primary school boys, but not Borstal boys.

I find the whole thing a little bizarre, looking back. Because although it would be ridiculous to suggest it was sexualised, certainly it had overtones which suggest the onset of a desire for actual intimacy with attractive members of the opposite sex.

I mean, it would only be another two years or so before one went from HATING going swimming to LOVING it- though not because one had actually started to swim, but because you got to see girls wearing less than they normally did- and it was quite interesting.
I think I was probably about eleven or so when I stopped pretending to find girls 'Urggghh'.

Though it is funny looking back how large part of our pre-pubescent childhood we pretend to hate girls and find them yucky. Maybe it's because we haven't quite worked out why we secretly like them, even though they're...girly.

Anyway, I do wonder whatever happened to Bernadette O'Toole.


Anonymous said...

I had a sex change Crushed dearest ...*winks coyly*

Anonymous said...

Oh I remember childhood games and my first crush - word got out and he would tease me daily - UGG - that never happened again!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm. Interesting post. It got me thinking of my grade school days and similar experiences. I think the way you describe it sounds quite innocent, however, you never know how Bernadette might have perceived it.

During the winter, when I was about 8-9 yrs old, the boys would wait for the girls out in the school yard after the bell rang. They would all be in a line so it would be hard to get by them, we knew that we just had to run. Eventually, they would corner just one girl and give her what we call a "snow job". This entailed forcing the girl down to the ground and shoving snow into her face and down her top. The funny thing is they would usually go for the girls who they were slightly smitten with. It was a funny way of showing one's interest ;)

Anonymous said...

I remember a girl named Tommi in my 2nd grade class. she was a little cutey as I recall, and she flashed her panties at me deliberately once. I was too young to know more than that it was kind of exciting. She moved away next year. I always wondered where she went.

Anonymous said...

Bernadette O'Toole is probably now working as a S&M mistress/stripper - her specialty is 'naughty school boys'.
I bet she belts them extra hard with her whip :)

Anonymous said...

Nostalgic and slightly bittersweet? I guess we all have memories in a similar way.

Kiss chase, strange feelings and attractions you didn’t understand, crushes, ah the crushes. Sparsely Kate I figure she would only be doing that if she hadn’t enjoyed it. If she did it she might be into furry hand cuffs ^_^

Anonymous said...

Mutley- Bernadette!
Oh, no!

I'm distraught!
Though I never saw that side of you at school...

Cat- The first girl I admitted to fancing rotten was called Sarah Stobbart.
And yes, it kept me awake ALL NIGHT.
I was 13.

Reeny- I think it was quite innocent, really.

I remember therev was this girl with a woolly hat I like to grab ogff her head because she had really thick curly hair and I don't know why, but I just loved seing it all flow out...
I think i liked her, looking back.

Charles- I think we all like to get attention from the other sex much earlier than we admit it.

I actually first kissed a girl in playgroup. And I meant it too,. And you know what? Secretly, I quite liked it, though ostensible it was just a dare.

Kate- In which case I SO want to hear from her.

I don't know why she had that effect on me, she just did...

Moggs- I know, it all seems so innocent looking back.

It was, as well, I think.

And we all thought it would get easier...

I wish sometimes, it could still be that innocent, in some ways.

Anonymous said...

I thought this a rather hilarious story although I suppose I should really think it was wrong. What on earth were the nuns doing that you got away with it? Or were there already lay teachers at that time?
I wonder how Bernadette remembers those incidents.