Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sexual Tension in the Forties

Kim’s comment on the photo below of five young people, taken in the Lake District in 1947 got me thinking of how it was then. We had met the day before, sitting at a communal table in a tea place in the Langdales. When they saw us looking at bus time tables they offered us a lift in their car back to our B&B in Ambleside. Sheila and I were going to a dance that evening and they said they would come too.

James and I sort of gravitated to each other but it was all very repressed with just the ‘accidental’ touching of hands and the odd brush against each other. There was a sizzling under current and it was intoxicating just to talk to these knowledgeable, older men – just out of the army and about to go up to Oxford. James was shocked when he learned I was just seventeen.

The next day was their last and they drove us to Coniston. The day passed quite quickly and then in the evening we were thrilled – all of us - to see Sir Malcolm Campbell about to test his Blue bird on the lake. We had been berated for skimming – throwing flat stones - to skim along the lake. The lake was like a mill pond but it was decided it was too dangerous for a Bluebird test. Eventually both Sir Malcolm and his son Donald – who I met whilst modelling – were both killed whilst testing.

On the photograph James and I look quite intimate but that would be a sudden embrace with the camera as an excuse. So different from now – one spent a lot of time just yearning, but not sure what for. It was four years later after marriage that I began to understand. I don’t think I was the exception.

26 comments:

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I think the repression and accidental touching is preferable to the obviousness and straightforwardness we have today. I MUST be getting old!

Pat said...

UB: yes I think the instant gratification prevalent today eliminates much of the excitement and the ultimate feeling of Hallelujah!

R. Sherman said...

I've been away working. Isn't the photo Kim refers to, from the trip where you met the German lad?

BTW, you sound like my mother describing when she first met my ex-Navy Officer father, twelve years her senior right after WWII.

Cheers.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Silly me, looking with eyes, didn't see sexual tension, I thought it was one dating couple hanging out with their friends.

Instant gratification [with everything, not just romance] has made most folks jaded, hasn't it? Way too much too soon.

Why were you berated for skimming stones? Ducks and drakes we called it. What fun.

Guyana-Gyal said...

...looking with *naive* eyes...

Scarlet Blue said...

I agree with Mr Banish. A little mystery heightens the senses.
Sx

Pat said...

Randall: no I met Gerhard in Wales, three years later. Again on a climbing holiday.
Your mother and I were probably reared in a similar way, about the same era.

GG: because Sir Malcolm was about to attempt a world record with his speed boat it was vital there should not be the slightest ripple. It could be a matter of life and death.
We had no idea!

Scarlet: burka anyone?

angryparsnip said...

I love that photo of you.
I quite agree with Unbearable and Scarlet Blue, mystery is very important.

cheers, parsnip

Kim Ayres said...

Judging by your response to Scarlet, I'm guessing you don't see the repression of those times through rose-tinted glasses.

I think the frisson of sexual tension is still there in all young people. And I don't think everyone is leaping into bed with everyone else without a 2nd thought, as some would have us believe.

Perhaps there is more pressure on young people to to take things further than they would otherwise be ready for, but at least there is much wider education about

Jimmy said...

Good man that James, he really did win a gold watch when it came to finding such a good looking wee girl.

Pat said...

Parsnip: 'ah sweet mystery of life at last I've found you.'
That's a song buzzing round in my head.

Kim: I'm happy to say I know some young people who do behave in a considered and responsible way with regard to personal relationships.

Jimmy; now who's got the rose- tinted glasses?

kenju said...

I think Kim is right - at least I hope he is - especially in regard to my grandchildren, who are now of the ages to experiment.

I so very well remember those initial frissons of sexual tension; how delicious they were - even when they were not immediately gratified - or even understood.

lom said...

I think people just had more respect for each other and themselves back then

Macy said...

Thanks for sharing Pat! I've been having a wee think of how much of the innocence was due to the times, and how much is due to your ages at the time.

The Cloudcutter said...

Dear Pat,

This post got me thinking about the past and how different (not to mention better) things used to be. So I went back to the beginning of your blog and read your entire story again! As you can well imagine, I haven't done anything constructive in the last 24 hours :-)

I am eagerly waiting for the day when your wonderful and interesting story will be available to me in a book, and I can take it out and read it whenever and wherever I like.

Thank you. For engaging, entertaining, educating and always inspiring!

XOXO

Pat said...

Judy: now that's what I'm talking about!
Same here regards grandchildren:)

LOM: absolutely.

Macy: fear and ignorance played their part too.

CC: wow!
I did what hopefully was a final draft and then when MTL got ill put everything on hold. Some time soon I hope to start sending it out again but as you know there are no guarantees in the publishing world. First tine around I got an agent and a publisher interested but they wanted really unacceptable changes so we parted amicably:)

john.g. said...

I think you're lovely too!

Pat said...

John.g: that is a very nice thing to say.xoxox

Eryl said...

Delayed gratification is the best. Often, when I get something in the post that I know isn't a bill, I leave it sitting on my desk while I go about my chores. It's lovely to have something to look forward to while hanging out the washing and cleaning the loo. And it's great to finally get to it, with a cup of coffee and a clean slate, and open it carefully.

Pat said...

Eryl: yes I recognise that sensation. You'll have fun on your birthday;)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

You are so right, Pat...There was so much yearning back then. Things are so different now I honestly cannot fathom it, at all....Girls "doing it" at twelve??? OY VEY!
Too early...much too early, I think. Maybe I'm wrong....It Is Such A Different Time!

Pat said...

Naomi: I think LOM got it right with respect for others and self respect.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Come by, if you get a chance Pat..I think you will enjoy the post I have up now...! (Friday Night, 4-8-11

Pat said...

Naomi: I'll be with you soon:)

Granny Annie said...

It all sounds so much better back then. In the 60's I was very uninformed about sexual matters as a young person and sometimes would like to think ignorance is bliss. However many of my other naive peers ended up "having to get married" or bearing children out of wedlock or going for backstreet abortions and ruining their health. We still only whispered about them but they have always been there. Sex is powerful.

Pat said...

Granny Annie: things were certainly very different then. I think Women's Lib came into its own when we got the pill. Those back street abortions were murderous.