Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 15 February 2015
Strangers in a strange land
Sarah's latest postreminded me that when I was about 8 years old and halfway through a school term, a beautiful, brown-skinned and tall girl with a great mass of shaggy hair was stood up in front of the class to be introduced to us as a new (if late) comer.
Anyone else would have quietly slipped in at the back to avoid disruption, but this girl was such a rarity that she was displayed as if she were an exhibit at the Museum of Mankind.
"This is *****," the teacher shouted to the class, "She is from Australia, and she is an Aborigine. Aborigines are the original inhabitants of Australia."
Even at that age, I was acutely aware of just how exotic this girl was, especially set in the tight-arsed, straight-laced environs of post-war Surrey, and I immediately formed an excruciating infatuation for her.
Sadly, this infatuation was not reciprocated, and my initial approach toward her to strike up a friendship was met with, "You stink, Stephenson". I was gutted.
Far from playing the part of a shy outsider, she was extremely forward and rowdy, setting an example to all the other girls by soundly beating-up all the male bullies one by one until they had all submitted to her superior strength.
Her technique included an impressive finale which involved pinning the boy to the ground, crouching over him with her face inches away from his, then projecting a 5 inch string of saliva out of her mouth toward their face, only to pull it back in again - all repeated in quick succession like an insect-eating lizard. Not being a bully, I didn't get this treatment.
It was only in later years that I understood the extreme rarity of the elderly woman who got on my number 63 school bus every morning as well.
She was brown and wrinkled and every inch of her face was covered in lurid, swirling tattoos.
She was a Maori woman from New Zealand - almost as rare a sight in the stockbroker-belt as the huge, yellow-eyed wolf which our near neighbour used to walk on a lead down the leafy road which ran past our mock-tudor house.