Tuesday, 7 September 2010

From Pamela Green to The Inbetweeners via Lady Chatterley's Lover

My recent post celebrating the life of nude pin-up Pamela Green and her contribution to the sexual awareness of adolescent school boys such as myself at the turn of the 1960s, has brought to mind the reading matter we were consuming encouraged by the same rampant hormones.
Ours was a boys-only school, which prompted our enthusiasm for literary stimulus. A mixed bag it was too. It ranged from a pornographic novel that one enterprising pupil rented out for a few pennies a night to an encyclopaedic tome by sexologist Havelock Ellis.
There were three books, however, which particularly caught our fevered imagination – and probably failed to deliver because there were many copies of each to be found later at the school’s charity book sales.
They were Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road (1932) about Georgia sharecroppers which had been re-published with a ‘hot’ paperback cover; Peyton Place (1956) by Grace Metalious about steamy US small town life; and, of course D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The latter though written in 1928 wasn’t published in unexpurgated form until 1960 after Penguin Books’ successful defence of the novel in a famous obscenity trial. There could have been a dozen copies in the book sale donated by disenchanted school boy readers.
Sex was never far from our teenage minds – the hit E4 TV comedy series The Inbetweeners suggests nothing much has changed (and those boys are at a mixed comprehensive).
I remember a conversation, which could have come straight from the show. A bunch of virgin schoolboys discussing whether they would oblige an attractive nymphomaniac given that she would accept service from any one.
Fortunately we didn’t know then that among life’s many predicaments, this was one unlikely to trouble us.

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