The opposite sex...

Opportunities to mix with boys, for us boarders, were very rare. I recall the odd occasion when we were allowed out for an event held in Dolgellau, perhaps an educational talk at Neuadd Idris in Dolgellau or DGS, and boys were of course there, causing much preening and giggles on our part - but nothing ever came of it. At least...

I did manage a small and very innocent fling with a lad who was a boarder at Dolgellau Grammar School - both of us aged fifteen, we 'met' (or rather we looked at one other) one Sunday in church. He was in the choir. Much blushing ensued on my part, and he missed a cue. We never spoke - that would have been too difficult, and anyway, I'd have had no idea what to say. The following Sunday, we locked glances again. He smiled. I nearly died. And after the service finished, and we gels were filing out of St Mary's - there was a 'Pssst!' from behind a gravestone - and there was my choirboy, thrusting a letter into my hand, then scarpering.

My amour proposed that we enter into an exchange of letters once a week. The gravestone would serve as postbox - in that he would wait behind it, and leap out into its shadow as I passed. We would exchange letters, and spend all week poring over the words... in his case, fairly ungrammatical, but who cared? He also proposed that our future letters should be in code. In case they were intercepted. I think he was related to a spy. The code was unique, based on the St Mary's hymnbook.

The following week, we exchanged missives. Mine to him was very short, while his to me was a list of hymn numbers, lines... as follows, sort of:

Darling Vaninissa (sic)
Hymn number 358 line 1
Hymn number 45 line 11
Hymn number 358 line 24
etc etc
I love you

(dont try to look them up - I can't remember the hymnbook. But you'll get the gist - his letter to me was one of the strangest love letters I ever had. When cracked, the code read:

Darling Vaninissa
Love divine all love's excelling,
there is none beside Thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise..
etc etc

For a few weeks we exchanged love letters from the hymnbook, and even, I recall, touched hands once before he scarpered. But it was fated to be a short romance.

We both had to return to our respective homes via the London train. His went the day before mine. The poor lad arranged to stay with a friend so that we could travel together and cement our love for each other on the train, or something. With eyes on our stomachs, we organised what we would be eating - I would somehow find cheese and onion crisps. He promised 'lagger and lime...' ((oh our sophistication - and his spelling was inventive!)

The school bus took us to Welshpool, I think. And there he was on the platform, with a carrier bag... beaming. My Romeo.

I hadn't really noticed Romeo's ears before. Or his badly razored hair. Maybe the gravestone had overshadowed all that. Or his spots... and to my eternal shame, I couldn't bring myself to even talk to him. All I did was ignore. On the train he came and found me, and mumbled something about undying love...but I wasn't to be moved.

The crisps never got eaten, the 'lagger' never got drunken. At London, he marched past me without a word. Our love affair was well and truly over, before it had even begun - and the next term, there was one choirboy less at St Mary's.

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