Sex … ? Sex education. Nuns, convents, school days.
For some reason best known to herself my little PA, Charlotte, suddenly asked me this morning how old I was when I first had sex. Now, I have known Charlotte for many years and we have a really great relationship, so this kind of question doesn’t bother me at all. In fact it made me launch in to the following story:
One day when I was aged 15, nearly 16, the Headmistress of my school, one Sister Saint Theodore, called me in to her office.
“Catherine,” she said in a very stern and thin-lipped manner, “I hear you have been going out with …. well, with boys ?”
I thought for a moment, trying to find the connection with boys and my impending “A” levels and, deciding that there was none I blurted out the dreadful truth:
Straight to confession, I’ll bet, I thought. There is clearly a sin of some sort involved in boys and, as I had a lot of brothers I could well imagine what – smelly feet, feet up on the table, socks gone hard with old sweat, acne, long greasy hair … oh yes, I knew all about boys!
“Catherine,” Sister Saint Theodore leant forwards in her chair, “I have to ask you this because it is important. Are you on the pill?”
The pill ? She clearly couldn’t mean The Pill – I had heard all about what that was for.
“Well, I take cod liver oil …” I ventured.
“You know perfectly well that is not what I am talking about!” she screeched, and stood up. I stood up too, thinking I was being dismissed.
“Sit down!” she said more quietly.
“Catherine,” she said again, with a patience that can only be admired,” are you still a virgin?”
“A virgin, sister?”
“Yes, Catherine. Answer truthfully. God already knows the truth.”
“Well, I don’t think so sister …” I racked my brains. Surely a nun wouldn’t know anything about those things? She clearly meant something else. The Virgin was the mother of Jesus. I wasn’t doing R.E “A” level and had never really paid attention in R.E lessons. I had gone through a phase of wanting to be a nun, but that phase had ended at least a week ago …
“I’ll ask my mother …?” I said in desperation.
Sister Saint Theodroe stood up quietly and calmly.
“No,” she said, “do not ask your mother, Catherine. You are a good girl, (well I knew that already). You may go now.”
Those were the days!
(Cover picture – when I was very little some nuns did still wear these extraordinary head-dresses. By the time I was 15, though, they wore more conventional clothing.)
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. Her books are on Amazon and Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading books stores and libraries. Catherine Broughton has travelled all over the world and her interesting blogs, anecdotes and sketches are on http://turquoisemoon.co.uk
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Click below for “The Man With Green Fingers”, a novel set in Cyprus:-
The history of sex education (I haven’t looked so I hope the site is all right!) :-