and guess what, you’ve got a China.
When Kelly’s Georgie was six he had sex education lessons at school. Nothing but the most basic facts and a few diagrams, and, according to Kelly, very little in the way of sniggering, but great excitement. The moment Georgie's dad came home from work he too was treated to this staggering revelation, as was Georgie’s sister Chloe. “Dad, I've got a penis and so have you and Chloe has a China. “ Georgie just couldn’t get over it.
This little gem came up because Kelly told me about an exciting week with Chloe, who is twelve and has just started her periods. Chloe is miffed because she can’t go swimming this week but otherwise she is taking it in her stride. She is annoyed at being the first in her class but Kelly has assured her that she’ll therefore be the coolest among the girls and she’ll be the centre of attention for a while.
How times have changed. We had one lecture in my all-girls-school, for all ages, from 10 to 16 year olds (16-18 year olds were excused, presumably because they already knew the difference between boys and girls and the fun you could have with that difference). A man, he may have been a priest in my catholic grammar school, or less likely, a doctor, stood in front of row upon row of giggling girls in the school’s assembly hall and held forth about the birds and the bees and how kissing was sinful and the first step on the road to perdition. Come to think of it, he must have been the school priest, surely no doctor would have spouted such nonsense even in the unenlightened days of the late 50s?
I was one of the youngest and my knowledge of all things physical and carnal was still zero after the lecture. Menstruating for the first time was a frightening experience for an innocent like me, I was sure I was about to die. My mother, who never made any effort to explain the facts of life to me, blamed the school for not having done so.
Dear Aunt Katie, with whom I was staying at the time, just smiled reassuringly and when my mum came to collect me, told her to speak up, finally. All my mum managed was, “you’re alright, you’re not dying. That’ll happen every four weeks now.” Poor mum, she just never could overcome her inner straitjacket.