I can actually remember precisely the moment when my view of girls changed from that of them being slightly annoying creatures who had no interest whatsoever in anything worthwhile, like science fiction, Lego, Airfix kits, war films and model soldiers, to something intriguing and erotic (not that I knew that word at the time).
It was the summer of 1971 and I was in my last year of my (mixed) junior school ,before starting at my all boys senior school that September. That year, at the age of eleven, I had started a growth spurt which saw my height increasing by eight inches in twelve months. With that growth came all the concomitant hormonal changes which meant that I started looking at the girls in my class (some of whom were starting to develop in interesting ways as well) in a new way. There were several very pretty girls in my year: C, who was very much regarded as the prettiest girl in the school with her short light brown hair and winning smile; H, her best friend who, despite her wire-framed glasses, had a delicate elfin beauty; S, the tallest girl in the school and a talented recorder player and another C, who in the last year was developing a bit of a reputation for, perhaps, growing up a bit faster than the others. Fast, was probably an appropriate description for her. She was the sort of girl who would go round to her friends' houses and sit on her friends fathers' laps. She was certainly developing into young womanhood at the time and was well aware of her blossoming appeal. My mother regarded her mother as a bit slutty too as she had a penchant for knee length leather boots and miniskirts (she was, after all, still only in her late twenties whereas my mother was over forty). One day she turned up to pick up her daughter from school in the newly fashionable hot pants, which caused a bit of a stir, given it was a Church school.
One of the school activities we all had to endure every week was a country dancing (English folk dancing, of course not yee ha line dancing, or some such) class. How anyone thought that this, in the year of T Rex, Mungo Jerry and John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, would be a worthwhile or popular activity for a bunch of eleven year olds is hard to fathom. However, most of the teachers were women in their sixties (which meant that they had been born before nineteen twenty) except for the rather racy Mrs C who, at thirty also wore mini skirts and was much admired by my father, who was always disappointed that she was never my actual class teacher.
So, once a week we all assembled in the school hall and a selection of country dancing music (on 7" EPs) was put on the record player and we attempted to put ourselves through a series of jigs, reels, polkas and, once a year, usually disastrously, a maypole dance. At the beginning of each class you had to pair up with a partner and I became aware, that summer, of a battle between 'fast' C, her best friend, the (slightly) less attractive but just as blooming D with her flaxen hair, and tall S the recorder player. That battle was to be my dance partner every week and at first I had no idea why they should particularly want to seek me out but they did. Certainly my teacher, Mrs N, a terrifying woman who was nonetheless an excellent teacher (I only realised in retrospect - such is often the fate for teachers), noticed this and tried to ensure that my partners were more varied every week. It all reached a head when C, arriving in the school hall late one day, actually barged her friend D out of the way so violently, in order to get to me, that she actually knocked her over onto the wooden floor. D, who was not what you might call a shy, retiring young lady (she was the first girl I ever heard use a four letter word), responded by sticking her foot between C's ankles and tripping her up so she also tumbled to the floor next to her, whereupon she promptly grabbed one of her friend's pigtails and yanked it. Mrs N had to step in to prevent an incipient cat fight and both were sent to sit in the classroom while the lesson continued with me being partnered with the tall, elegant but equally shy as me, S instead.
There was, of course, no close bodily contact in this sort of dancing but C often contrived to brush against me whenever she could. This was something I initially regarded as annoying but by the end of that year I was experiencing a little frisson from it.
This all came to a head in the summer term, one Wednesday afternoon which was when we had a double sports lesson. I had been out in the school field measuring the height of a large oak tree with a simple theodolite; the school having given up on me participating in many conventional lessons as I was finding them boring. I was one of two people in the year to pass the exam to get into the selective senior school so they felt that they had basically run out of things to teach me for the last half term. To get to my classroom I had to walk through the area where our school shoebags and coats (in the winter) were hung on pegs above wooden benches. That day, I encountered, in the cloakroom area, all the girls in the class (about 20 of them - we had 43 people in the class that year) trying on their new netball skirts, which had just been delivered. Now, of course I should have just walked through them and into the classroom and the previous year I probably would have but I was intercepted by fast C. "Look at our new skirts!" she said to me. "They are fastened by this new stuff called Velcro!" She then demonstrated this material, which I had not seen before, by whipping off her skirt for me. They were wrapover skirts with the Velcro fastening just at the waist. Of course, it made the distinctive ripping noise and some of the other girls started to take theirs off too; mainly because of the sound effect. Some, however, I realised in retrospect, were doing it in order to flash their legs at me. Tall, S, not surprisingly had spectacular legs. At eleven years old she was about five foot five and would later go on to reach five eleven.
Now, at this age, those of us boys in class that had started to appreciate girls (of whom there were about three or four) were fixated on women's breasts, of course. Bare breasted girls were starting to appear in some of the more downmarket newspapers so they were now available to view for the first time (the first topless Page 3 girl had appeared the previous November) by hormonal boys with access to such newspapers. However, what this experience gave me was an appreciation for girls legs, which has remained with me ever since. Most of the girls there had typical young girls legs with that curious marbling look that many of them have at that age. But fast C, S and D were developing longer women's legs with shapely thighs and gently flaring hips. Both C and D were also developing busts which were apparent in their blue and white check cotton school uniform dresses (there was a summer uniform of a dress and a winter uniform of a grey skirt, white blouse and navy sweater or a navy gymslip for girls).
At this point my teacher, the redoubtable Mrs N, emerged and told me off for "loitering with the girls" and hustled me back to the classroom. As I followed her into the classroom, the still skirtless, fast C smiled at me and actually spread her thighs giving me the benefit of what I would later know to be adductor muscles and her far from enticing navy blue school knickers. Although, at that stage in my life this was, in fact, the most enticing sight I had ever seen and it kept me happily tumescent during subsequent nighttime recollections for many weeks. I remember going home that evening and describing the girls interesting Velcro netball skirts in breathless detail. My father seemed particularly pleased with this new fascination of mine.
As a postscript to this, later that term, fast C and I had to do athletics equipment duty one sports lesson. There, inside the small wooden shed which contained all the sports equipment, she hiked up the hem of her dress (not her netball one, sadly), pushed her knickers over her hips and flashed her mound at me so quickly that I couldn't take it in, especially as I was so shocked. I did recall the impression of some unexpected golden curls and thought I might die in ecstasy until she told me that I could have another look for two shillings. Not that I took money to school anyway but two shillings would buy an Airfix kit! No girl was worth that! If it had been the leggy S I might have had a dilemma but she was far too well brought up to do such a thing. In retrospect I suppose that fast C was as much in thrall to her hormones as I was at the time and got a sexual thrill out of it (or maybe she was just a budding entrepreneur).
Leggy S the recorder player, I discovered about four years later, had always had a crush on me (her mother told my mother) but sadly they moved away from the area so I never had a chance to speak to her again after we left junior school. This was a shame as by the age of fourteen she was quite a lovely young lady, as I observed when I saw her in church one Christmas about three years later.
I later met prettiest girl in the class, C, again about nine years later at a village fete when I was home for the summer from university. She had developed (goodness me had she developed) a quite spectacular bust, was even more attractive and now lives in California.
Fast C my competitive dance partner, caused a scandal in the village by becoming pregnant at the age of fifteen and having to have an abortion. Obviously her hormones had continued to rage.
My next sensual experience would be an order of magnitude more than this and would take place just a year later but this time in France...