My first encounter with my growing sexuality was in music class alongside the rest of Form 4.
A long drawn out note on my violin, perfectly formed for the first time in almost eight years of lessons had the unexpected effect of causing me to experience a tidal wave that started in my belly and travelled round my body until it hit the bit between my legs. My gasp was audible, evidenced by the fact that the rest of the class turned round and stared at me; I could feel the heat rising in my face as well as a flush spreading across the front of my chest.
Mumbling an excuse I fled, carrying my violin as close to my heart as I could without it piercing my skin. I never wanted to let it go again, it was my passport to a possibility I wanted to experience again.
That night, as I sat in my room preparing for an evening of scales and exam music, I wondered if I’d be able to recreate the magic moment; one I realised had changed me, but into what I wasn’t sure. I waited until the house was clear of nosy brothers and irritating sisters before trying again.
Standing up, I lifted the violin to my neck and bowed a single, perfect C. The note resonated with my inner tuning fork and snaked its way down my spine until hit the sweet spot. I sighed and opened my legs a little wider this time.
This time I tried an A sharp but the effect was less pronounced. Slowly I worked my way through the scales, testing each note until I found the ones that made my body sing the strongest. Teasing and testing myself until I was spent.
My music lessons became an exercise in both self control and abandonment, in many ways my playing became worse as I tried to hide the effects it could have on my body; in others the passion was evident as soon as anyone saw me lift the violin out of its case. Such was the case with Mr Smithson.
He joined the school at the beginning of my fifth year. Old by teenagers’ standards, with a look that spoke of dire consequences for those who misbehaved on his shift, he eschewed the favoured slacks, shirt and tie of most male teachers in favour of jeans and black polo neck jumpers stretched across muscles sculpted as if by Michelangelo. Smelling of sweat, smoke and Habit Rouge – a fragrance my father used on the rare nights he went out – he was a creature not of the type to which we were used