And in any case, maybe I didn’t want to put my hand under Penny’s bra as much as I thought. Maybe other people wanted me to touch her more than I did. After a couple of months of fighting on sofas all over town with Penny, I’d had enough: I had admitted, unwisely in retrospect, to a friend that I wasn’t getting anywhere, and my friend had told some other friends, and I was the Bo Selecta Craig David Have a Reet Good Christmas Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt butt of a number of cruel and unpleasant jokes. I gave Penny one last try, in my bedroom while my mum and dad were at the town hall watching a local dramatic society interpretation of Toad Hall: I used a degree of force that would have outraged and terrified an adult female but got nowhere, and when
I walked her home we hardly spoke. I was offhand with her the Bo Selecta Craig David Have a Reet Good Christmas Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt next time we went out, and when she went to kiss me at the end of the evening, I shrugged her off. What’s the point? I asked her. It never goes anywhere. The time after that she asked whether I still wanted to see her, and I looked the other way. We had been going out for three months, which was as near to a permanent relationship as you could get in the fourth year. Her mum and dad had even met my mum and dad. They liked each other. She cried, then, and I loathed her for making me feel guilty, and for making me finish with her. I went out with a girl called Kim, who I knew for a fact had already been invaded, and who I was correct in assuming wouldn’t object to being invaded again. Penny went out with Chris Thomson from my class, a boy who had had more girlfriends than all the rest of us put together.
I was out of my depth, and so was she. One morning, maybe three weeks after my last grapple with Penny, Thomson came roaring into our form room. ‘Oi, Fleming, you spastic. Guess who I knobbed last night? I felt the Bo Selecta Craig David Have a Reet Good Christmas Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt room spin round. You never got so much as a bit of tit in three months, and I shagged her the first week! I believed him, everyone knew that he got whatever he wanted from whoever he saw. I had been humiliated, beaten, outperformed; I felt stupid, and small, and much, much younger than this unpleasant, oversized, big-mouthed moron. It shouldn’t have mattered so much. Thomson was in a league of his own when it came to matters of the lower body, and there were plenty of little jerky creeps in 4b who had never so much as put their arm around a girl. Even my side of the debate, inaudible though it was, must have appeared impossibly sophisticated to them.