Readers, this is my new column. Dedicated to those thoughts thunk in the small hours as I toss and turn in my bed, and my train of thought derails, obliterating everything in its path.
GAVIN HAYNES' SLEEPLESS NIGHTS #1: NO MORE TEEN KICKS FOR JEREMY FORREST
On Tuesday, Jeremy Forrest stood in a Bordeaux courtroom. He confirmed his name. Then, he was asked by an interpreter whether he wanted to return to Britain to explain himself to the authorities. He said "Yes."
I imagine him saying it with his chin jutted, proudly erect, Jean d'Arc meets Jerry Lee Lewis, as though his single syllable were short for, "Yes. Yes, a thousand times, yes. My only crime is an expression of love. And if love is a crime, then there is no hope for any of us in this godforsaken world and you might as well imprison yourselves, for we are all imprisoned, once love dies. Bring earthly justice what ye may, for who would break a butterfly on a wheel? I have a dream... I have received no such ultimatum and regret that therefore there now exists a state of war between the United Kingdom and Germany." And so on. And so forth.
What else, after all, was his plan, at this tertiary stage of the game? When you walk onto a ferry, cannily disguised as yourself, and aim to avoid detection by walking through Bordeaux centre arm-in-arm? It is not a genius strategy. Dr Crippen disguised his lover as a young boy when he fled the country. Far be it from me to advise, but Forrest should've taken a leaf out of Doc Crip's book. Besides, there's something quite saucy about gender-bending your girlfriend for 48 hours. Even if he weren't on the run from the massed ranks of Interpol, I'd advise it as a relationship amuse bouche – a little bit of frisson, a pick-me-up if things are going a bit stale, conversation drooping. Which, if your lover is 15, one imagines must be a lot of the time.
Lord knows it can't be easy for Forrest, with his high IQ, his 32k-a-year starting salary, to spend all his time with his nose in Urbandictionary, looking up what "trap" is so that he can "get on a level" with his GF. To be honest, had she not been so brazen as to dress as a schoolgirl – surely the ultimate provocation to a man raised in the post-Britney era – he may not have been sucked in. After all, he was innocently conducting a maths class. She, for her part, was listening attentively. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury – who listens attentively in a maths class? Precisely.
It's easy to imagine any of us falling into that trap. You go out with your kid lover, get a bit too pissed, start talking about your innermost feelings and what a Ninja Turtle is and why Bill Clinton used to be sexy. Before you know it, you're buying ferry tickets to Calais. Yet so far, sympathy has been limited.
As Jeremy returns to face the music, the sweet, sweet acoustic guitar music he made himself to honour the girl he loved, you wonder how long the object of his passions will stick with him. I can’t imagine a flat full of White Stripes LPs will forever retain a fascination for a girl whose world could be filled with 1D and BBM. There’s only so long statutory rape can keep a relationship going. Or so you’d think...
At a school I can't name that I may have gone to, one of the teachers ended up in just such a cupboard clinch with one of his pupils. She got... well, I don't think we were into counselling in them days, but she probably got a lot of weary, pitying looks from senior members of staff, mixed in with a resentful anxiety about the safety of their own jobs. He got the sack.
Except of course he didn't get the sack. That would've required tribunals, signatures on a dozen dotten lines, depositions. He simply left by "mutual consent". One day his Maths class were happily unpacking binomials into two factorisable brackets. The next, there was some dragon dragged off the subs bench instead. Nothing was ever mentioned to anyone, ever. He vanished, he non-personed, Stalin-style. “Mr X isn't here any more,” was all they said. In hindsight, we should've known something was up when he changed his name to Mr X.
The epilogue to that tale of badness is that the girl and the ex-teacher were, last time I heard, still together. Married, apparently. You wonder whether Stammers and Forrest will be able to make it in the same way. We know from the likes of Diana and Charles that a relationship between an older man and a much younger woman presented under the glare of a thousand flashbulbs can easily turn sour. Will they be selling their baby snaps to Hello! once he gets out of prison, a la Peaches and Tom Cohen? Or will they be selling their bitchings to rival tabloids, a la Peter and Katie? It's a fine line to walk, and ultimately, sometimes love alone is not enough. Sometimes you also need to be able to talk about where you were when Tony Blair was elected.
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