Skip to main content

Love etc

No way to learn about the birds and the bees

Gillian Anderson in Sex Education

Last week a group of MPs demanded an “urgent inquiry” into children being taught “radical and graphic ideas” about sex at school. I don’t know the details, says Sophia Money-Coutts in The Daily Telegraph, but I don’t see how it could be any more alarming than the way “posh kids are often taught about the birds and the bees”. When I was eight, my mother carted my brother and me off to a stud farm to watch a stallion “cover” a mare. “It did not look especially pleasurable”, and after a long silence in the car on the way home, my brother braved a question: “But will we have to?” One friend developed an “early phobia” of wedlock after her mother told her that two dogs going at it in the garden were “getting married”. Another saw the act for the first time on safari in Kenya. “Getting married” takes less than a minute for lions, apparently, but they do it every 15 minutes for four or five days.

Rather more eyebrow-raising was the habit of some smart families to send their young sons to visit prostitutes. In the 1960s, Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames tipped off his younger brother about a woman called Denise who “coached inexperienced public school boys” from a room in Mayfair. Denise charged “£3 a go”, but when young Jeremy slipped out of Eton one night to pay her a visit, he forgot to bring cash and she “shrewdly refused to accept a Coutts cheque”. Back at school, there had been a fire drill in his boarding house and his absence noted. He was duly flogged, and his godfather Field Marshal Montgomery wrote a “thundering letter, declaring him a disgrace to his family, his school and even his country”.