Thursday, 24 August 2017

Lolita - 'thank heaven for little girls...'

Nobody has even suggested that this is an easy topic for a blog. There are so many current issues with child exploitation in the news.  It seems that most days, there are items about child sex abuse, grooming gangs or sex slavery. This is my country and I am right to be appalled. Unfortunately I have to say that although I am shocked at the frequency and number of these dreadful crimes - they are nothing new. I was first aware of the sexual exploitation of under-aged girls in Blackpool in the early 1970's. It was illegal then too.

Although the age of consent was sixteen in the 1970's there was still an innocence about under age sex. Our parents were unaware that through the coffee bar culture, school girls and older men came into un-chaperoned contact. Men in expensive cars often waited outside school gates for young, nubile girls. We knew who they were: Men who liked 'schoolies'.  The large influx of draft-dogging Italians in seaside towns in the 1970s added to the problem. Italian mommas kept tight reign on their daughters. British girls were the obvious choice for a charming, handsome, foreigner or a man whose faith encouraged him to exploit easier options.  I don't recall any prosecutions or news items.

When I was younger, I loved to watch musicals. My love of dance and romantic nature was nurtured by a father and Grandmother who were both very musical. I always wanted to dance with a boy, like Fred did with Ginger. I knew the words to every song in every musical by the time I was 6. Dad bought L.P's. My favourite film was Gigi.

Hang on a moment! Gigi was a film with a strange theme. A handsome man visits Gigi's mother regularly ... a character who is never seen ...but we are led to believe that she is an opera singer. The man then starts to be interested in Gigi, who is blossoming into a beautiful young woman. She tempts him, he succumbs, then he rejects her a 'just one of those things'. My favourite song from the show, 'Thank Heaven for Little Girls' sung by the ageing Maurice Chevalier was blatantly extolling their appeal to older men. Five years later, I would have recognised the character as someone my older sister would refer to as a 'dirty old man.'

With a reasonably long career in dance, I have met many men who willingly exploit young girls. I know women whose careers have stalled simply because they wouldn't sleep with a particular promoter. I was fortunate enough to lack the looks but to have both the talent and the brains to steer clear of them. I could tell some tales and spill a few beans. Often the young women involved were only too willing to dress up, daub on the make up and lead men on. There is no justification for under aged sexual exploitation. When my daughter was growing up, I had no illusions - I was a young girl once ...

The Gentleman

You were twenty-two and everything I dreamed,
Tall, dark and handsome,
In your uniform:
Charm and sophistication,
Bursting from the seams.

I was thirteen, articulate and agile,
Much older than my years
In my uniform:
Blossoming into woman-hood,
Brazenly, flirting with my eyes.

And when unexpectedly alone,
I called you - and you came to me,
Misreading my intentions:
Protective like a brother,
I wanted you as lover.

I didn’t feel the slightest shame,
I longed for your embrace,
I would have ruined your career,
And possibly my life
but you would not have been to blame.

An officer and gentleman,
You resisted my advances,
Put me firmly in my place,
It broke my heart when I saw anger
Sweep across your gentle face.

I waited all my teenage years
Ached for your return,
If you had said you wanted me
I would abandon everything,
I would have sailed the seven seas.

You were my very first love,  
I’ll always hold you in my heart,
I wait. I dream. I long for you,
If you should ever feel the same,
I haven’t changed my name.

Thanks for reading.  Adele