He had been the best and best-looking teacher she ever had. Now in her 40s and separating from the father of her children, one woman recalls how their romance bloomed
I knew him as “Joebrown”. One word, like that – and, thanks to a twist of fate 30 years later, I now know he was 28 back then. I was 16, an A-level pupil who couldn’t bring myself to call teachers – especially this one – by their first names, as we were suddenly allowed to do at sixth form. Combining his common-or-garden names provided distance, as well as giving them a distinction that seemed so much more fitting. In the big Edwardian classroom, lined with desks along three sides, I would sit to the side of Joebrown, tucked behind my desk, while he would stand before us all, gently gesticulating, his hirsute and firm bronzed arms capturing my attention as much as the accompanying words of passion, spoken in distinctive tenor tones, for literature and for us, his students, in equal measure.
From my vantage point, my gaze would shift from his soft, masculine face and clear blue, determined eyes all the way down his male frame to the footballer’s gait so pleasingly suggested by the cut of his trousers. Straight ahead of me were large, timber-framed windows looking out on to the playing fields and sky beyond. He was kind, interested and so very encouraging, a heady mix for adolescent girls who spoke of and whispered about him in huddled giggles.
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