Writing recently of pressure groups in general, and the #MeToo social networking group in particular, I began to consider whether I had, at some time in my relatively long life, committed any sort of unwanted sexual assault on a female who had made no advances towards me to warrant such an intrusion.
Throughout my early formative years I have little recollection of my parents. My father worked for a telephone company after the war and would leave home early. My mother worked in a steam laundry and would cover the ten or so miles to her workplace by bicycle. She would be gone before dawn and not return home until seven or eight o’clock in the evening.
My grandmother, on my father’s side, lived with us in our little bungalow on a quiet suburban street in a small town called Moreton, on the Wirral peninsular, just across the Mersey from the city of Liverpool. In those days that great city seemed far away, for all I knew it could have been on Mars. Like most working class families in post-war Britain we had not yet risen to the dizzy heights of motor car owners.
I never liked my grandmother. She seemed a surly individual who spent most of her time in bed reading the Bible. Of course, at the tender age of three or four I had no idea she was dying of cancer. Then, one day, I was playing in the front garden and risked a peek into the window of grandmother’s bedroom. To my surprise the bed was not only empty, but all the linen had been removed and only the frame and springs remained. Later, I asked my mother, “Where’s Grandmother?”
“Gone to Jesus,” was the reply, in a tone that brooked no further questioning. I’d not even heard of Jesus, but accepted that she’d probably gone to live with some distant relative.
I went back into the garden, peered once more through the bedroom window, then danced a jig on the front lawn, happy that at long last the old woman I disliked so much was finally out of my life.
I worshiped my sister. Her name was Mary and she was five years my senior. (Somewhat later in life we gigglingly decided Mary was the product of the last thing my father did before going to war, and I resulted from the first thing he did on arriving back home – probably before he took his boots off!)
After Grandmother went to live with the relative, my sister took on the job of looking after me while our parents were at work. She had a gang. It was hardly the Bloods or the Crips. For one thing they were all girls, apart from me, that is. My Sis was the leader and Margaret Banks, who lived down the road, was her deputy. My sister was nine, which made her the oldest, and Margaret was seven and wore a pink eye patch because she had a ‘lazy eye’. Mary said it made her look mean, and she wanted one, but my Mum told her, “Certainly not!” which upset her for a while until Margaret Banks agreed to lend her hers, in exchange for borrowing one of my sister’s dolls.
There were two other members of the gang, sisters Jennifer and Wendy Plummer. Jennifer was six and her sister, three. They lived opposite to us in a bungalow with a long front garden and a fish pond. I was really jealous of the fishpond and would find excuses to play in their garden at every opportunity.
We got up to all sorts of mischief during the long hot summer holidays. Apart from me and Wendy Plummer all the other gang members were of school age, so the holidays were a great time for adventures of all sorts. Often, my sister would make sandwiches and buy Tizer lemonade with our lunch money, and we’d all head off across the railway and down a long, winding lane that led to the seashore. I loved it down there. I could do what I liked. There was an old derelict lighthouse to explore, and ponds, and a concrete bunker with slit-like holes for soldiers to aim their guns through if Hitler ever invaded Moreton. He never did. It was a great place to hide in and pretend the Nazi hordes were landing on the beach, though it smelled of stale urine and there were old and rather shrivelled rubbery tube-like things lying around that my sister told me I mustn’t touch. Later, when I found out what they were, I was glad I hadn’t!
It was one of those hot summer mornings at the start of school holidays. The two older girls decided we weren’t going to the beach that day and I wasn’t privy to what we were to do, but it entailed us meeting up outside our house and heading up the street in the general direction of the local sweet shop.
The three older girls and I were wearing T-shirts and shorts, but Wendy Plummer, who was still only three, wore only a pair of white cotton panties. The pavement was quite narrow and Jennifer and her sister were in front, while Margaret Banks, my sister and I walked at the rear. I was suddenly conscious of being close behind a small pair of buttocks gyrating violently inside Wendy Plummer’s white knickers. At the tender age of four my hormones were undoubtedly absent, but for some reason I was riveted by this mass of pulsating flesh before my eyes. What on earth was going on behind that veil of white cotton? It was a question that demanded an answer. Without a moment’s hesitation, I reached forward, grabbed the offending linen, and swiftly yanked it down to the little girl’s knees.
Wendy Plummer was a well-rounded child and gaining a glimpse of those pink buttocks bouncing around was, I thought, well worth the slap around the head I received from my big sister. Wendy, without missing a stride, just hauled up her panties and continued on her way without a backward glance, as though exposing her bottom to the world wasn’t worth another thought. Within five minutes the whole incident was forgotten by everyone, too busy consuming ice cream and butterscotch from the emporium of Mrs Sowerby, the local vicar’s wife.
Forgotten, that is, by all except me. I wasn’t sure why I was so elated by my little adventure into the workings of the female anatomy, but the gyrations of those little pink orbs of flesh just continued to fascinate me.
Later, in those harsh post-pubescent years that lay ahead of me, when schoolboys whispered behind bike sheds of forbidden things like ladies’ breasts and shapely legs, I too longed shyly for those forbidden fruits that only female teenage beauties might, though never did, provide. But when a pretty girl passed by and other boys flirted with hidden lusts for breast or leg, my thoughts and eyes would stray to just one particular aspect, the pleasing rise of shapely buttock through skirt or skin-tight jeans, and I would remember a hot summer’s day in 1950, when Wendy Plummer was three year’s old and I was barely four.
My dear sister died, in London, under the wheels of a lorry as she rode her bicycle to work. She was fifty-one year’s old. The other members of our gang have long been lost to me as the mists of time have rolled on. But I’ll be forever grateful to them all. Spending my formative years in their company taught me to respect all womankind and hold them in high regard.
Yet, in these days of #MeToo, and the witchhunt by those rampant feminists who have hijacked an otherwise worthy movement, I must hold up my hand, admit to being guilty of a sexual assault on an unsuspecting female. Wendy Plummer will be over seventy years old now. I doubt she’d even remember the day her gyrating buttocks had such a dramatic effect on my life.
It’s unlikely she’ll be scouring Facebook for me, intent on naming and shaming me as another Harvey Weinstein. Hopefully, for those Madame Defarge’s who roam the #MeToo campaign, I’ll be the one that got away.