Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft, Mult, Teenagers, Consensual, NonConsensual, Reluctant, Coercion, Humiliation, First, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, Slow, School, Nudism, .
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Kevin and Denise spend a year at college abroad, pursuing their dreams for productive careers. What they find is totally not what they expect, as the Moirai-the Fates-keep tossing curveballs in their direction, as chance and circumstance keep interfering with their plans. (Reading "Kevin and Denise" and "Roger and Cynthia" first will provide needed context; also there are spoilers to the prior tales in this story.)
It was a hot, rainy afternoon in mid-August when the taxi carrying the two weary travelers pulled up in front of a three-story block of flats in the Lambeth borough of South London.
“What crappy weather! I thought London would be cooler, and look at how hard it’s still raining!” Denise Roberts complained as she gathered her laptop bag and backpack from the seat.
“Ah, lassie, thisn’t usu’l August weather,” the cabbie sighed. “We gen’ly git 20-degree temps an’ na’ much rain this month, but it gotta be more’n 30 now.”
“Reminds me of Jakarta, actually,” Kevin Coris remarked. “This is just as hot as there.”
He reached over to pay the fare and the cabbie grinned and nodded at the generous tip.
“Lass, Ay’ll loan yeh me brolly t’use; Ay git yer bags for ya and ‘elp y’carry. This ‘ere yer flat?” he pointed.
“I think so. Kevin, it’s number 7, right?”
“Right, sweetie; I hope the agent is here. She said she’d be here—ah, that must be her...”
“Lemme pop th’boot; wait t’git out fer me.”
He opened the trunk, grabbed the umbrella, leaped out of the vehicle, and went to Denise’s door. She accepted the driver’s umbrella and climbed out as the man flipped up his poncho hood over his head and went back to collect the luggage.
A stocky, middle-aged woman had appeared at the building door, waved, and opened her umbrella as she came out of the building.
“You must be the Corises,” she called as she came down the steps. “Sorry for the poor weather reception; this is most unusual weather.”
“Yes, that’s us, and that’s what our driver said about this monsoon,” Denise acknowledged.
Their luggage was unloaded and brought indoors quickly with four people carrying items, Kevin sharing the cabbie’s large umbrella with Denise. The cabbie smiled with gratitude when Kevin slipped him a £10 note.
“Thank’uh, guv’nor, much ‘preciated!” he enthused as he collected his umbrella. “Yuh ‘n th’lass stay dry!” he grinned and headed back out into the pouring rain.
“I’m Angela Jones,” the agent introduced herself. “Welcome to London. Now the agreement we have is for your letting the flat for nine months, extending to a year if needed; am I correct?”
“Yes, ma’am, although we’re only scheduled to be in classes at the university till spring, we might need to stay a little longer. You see, we’re to be the guardians of a girl until her grandparents return to England sometime between May and July next,” Kevin explained.
“Ah, yes, your file with the letting papers mentioned that. Well, let me show you around the flat, explain some details, and give you my contact numbers. If you ever need help, please ring my mobile and don’t be afraid to get me whenever. And there’s also some final papers to sign. I see that we’re to draw your letting fee straight from your bank, and I really appreciate that. Now let’s go up; I’ll give you a hand with the bags.”
Soon their business with Mrs Jones was finished and she departed with a chipper reminder to call her if there was anything else her agency could do to help them.
“Whew,” Denise remarked as she closed the door behind the departing woman. “I’m not sure how much more of her sugar-coated cheeriness I could take. How does she do it? Especially in this miserable weather. Can we open a window? It’s pretty stuffy in here.”
“Hmmm, no AC here, but that’s common in Europe from what I hear. A few ceiling fans. Yeah, let me open a window or two where the rain won’t come in,” Kevin mused. “And let’s see about unpacking. Our household stuff should be here in a few days, but it’s nice to have the kitchen equipped fairly well, anyway.”
“Yeah, I see that there are two sets of bed linens too,” Denise called from the bedroom. “Well, this will certainly be an adventure!” she grinned as she started to unpack a suitcase.
The following day, the two began to plan their time for the weeks before classes started.
“So we need to do the final registering stuff, oh yeah, also check out how to travel from here to our schools. And pick up Amelia when she gets in and get her registered in school too; is there anything else, darling?” Denise asked as they dressed to go out for breakfast and food shopping.
The rain had stopped overnight but it was still sultry outdoors.
“No, sweetie, but we do want to call on Warren,” he said, referring to Warren Porter, a close Coris family friend from Kevin’s youth when he lived in Seoul, South Korea.
Denise smiled. “Right, he’s so cool, honey; we had such a great time with his family when we visited them in Korea three years ago. I wonder how his kids have adapted to life in London as opposed to Korea?”
“Well, kids of diplomats learn to be very adaptable, you know. Remember how many different places I lived in while growing up,” Kevin grinned. “All those different schools. Learning all those languages too. Oh yeah ... we need to ring Amelia’s grandparents—remind me later, honey.”
They left the flat and began the day’s errands. Kevin called Warren Porter in the evening and they were invited to dinner at his Soho home the following evening; he would send a car around to fetch them.
After dinner and some desultory channel-surfing, Kevin sat back in the sofa and closed his eyes.
“You know, darling, everything is moving so damned quickly—we’re always on the go, it seems. Will we ever have a normal life?” he sighed.
“Whatever do you mean by ‘normal’? I think we’re just not ‘normal’ people; we seem to get involved with events around us all the time. You and your ‘white knight syndrome, ‘ riding to the aid of needy people around you. Thank God you were there for me when I needed it, so I’m never going to complain about that, you know,” she said as she took his hand.
“Yep, and it looks like our career directions have gone in just that way,” Kevin mused. “You’ve got this awesome way of projecting your emotional feelings to anyone nearby and an enormous level of empathy, so what career do you pick? Of course, you want to study psychiatry or psychology.”
“Well, those sciences plus your heroism saved my life, so I feel the need to help others if I can. And you, sweetie, you have such a talent for persuasion; you can talk people into doing stuff that they’d never do in their wildest dreams. You’d make an awesome salesman. Or politician. Or diplomat. So what do you pick? All the above, if that’s how your studies in the field of international relations will turn out. That’s why you picked that field, right?”
“Yeah, Denise, I guess so. I want to do like what my dad tried, to cure all that’s wrong in the world. Very idealistic—very unrealistic too. But maybe these studies will give me some ideas about where to contribute my share—for whatever I can accomplish. Dad’s foundation helps with third-world legal and health problems, so that’s where I think I want to do something too. Okay—enough serious talk. How about a nice hug and kiss?”
The following evening, a black limo with diplomatic plates stopped in front of their flat.
“Wow, we’re traveling in style,” Denise grinned.
“Well, considering that Warren is the deputy head of the embassy, I guess he’s got some pull,” Kevin joked.
“Gee, maybe you should wear your Medal of Freedom to make it official; you’re a big shot too,” Denise retorted.
Kevin had received the award from the president three years earlier for his service to the U.S.
“Yeah, you know the perks that come with that? A free tour of the White House, I think is all,” Kevin smirked.
Their ride to Soho went quickly and soon they were being greeted by the Porter family.
“Kevin, Denise, how wonderful to see you both again, and congratulations on your engagement!” Warren Porter exclaimed when he opened the door. “Did you have a good trip, and are you settled in now in your flat?” he asked as he guided them into the sitting room.
“Sure, and thanks; everything went well, except for this hot, stuffy weather,” Kevin replied.
“Yes, not at all what London is known for. Usually we’re cold and damp, not hot and muggy. Anyway, come meet the rest of the family. Hey kids,” he called, “Denise and Kevin are here! Ah, here’s Barbara.”
Barbara Porter came into the room. “Well hello, Denise, Kevin—let me see the ring—oh, how beautiful! Congrats to both of you! I’m so happy for you and Kevin, your parents would have been overjoyed for you both. I so miss Audrey and Paul and I know you miss your parents too, Kevin.”
“Yes, Denise, you know that Audrey Boninger was one of the top people in the U.S. Foreign Service. Such a shame that her career was cut short that way,” Porter said, taking Kevin’s hand and hers.
Kevin’s parents had perished in a random terrorist car-bombing in Indonesia four years earlier.
“Yes, and I’m sorry that I never got to meet her; everyone speaks so highly of her ... Oh, here’s Jeremy!” Denise exclaimed. “Wow, Jeremy! Look at you!”
Jeremy had quietly entered the room and shyly went to Denise as she opened her arms to embrace him.
“Woooo, the guy’s gone and become a man! Hey Jeremy, you’re some hunk now!”
Jeremy blushed as he hugged her, “Aww, Denise...”
“Man, feel those muscles!” she grinned. “You must be what, six feet-one? two? And your shoulders and chest ... and biceps...” she poked and prodded. “Rock hard. You’ve got a super body. You probably have to use a stick to keep the gals off you, right?”
“Erm, Denise, god, please...” he muttered while his parents laughed.
Barbara grinned. “Jeremy hasn’t been on a date yet, Denise. Be kind to him.”
“Muuum! Please!” he complained.
“Sorry for teasing you, Jeremy. You know that Kevin talks about you like you’re his little brother,” she said. “And oh, here’s your little brother and sister too ... great seeing you, guys!”
Bobby and Naomi came up to Kevin and Denise and hugged them both.
“Wow, guys, you’ve really grown too—Bobby, you’re eleven now? And Naomi, you’re really pretty and you must be a teenager now, right?” Kevin said.
“Yeah, Kevin, I was 13 two months ago. And I’m mad at you; I wanted you to wait till I grew up so you’d marry me! And you went and got engaged to someone else! But I like Denise a lot anyway, so I guess it’s okay,” she smiled shyly.
“Naomi always had a big crush on Kevin, as you probably know, Denise,” Barbara grinned.
“MUUUM! No point in rubbing it in!” Naomi complained.
The group took seats in the room as Porter diplomatically changed the subject; just doing his job, after all.
“So let’s get all caught up; it’s been about three long years since we’ve really had a chance to speak. That was a terrific opportunity you two had, going on that Korean student exchange, and I heard a lot of good things said about your high school group. State was very pleased with the results. Anyway, what’s been happening since then?”
“Well, lots, I guess. You know that Denise and I entered college with advanced standing, right? So now we’re in like our third year but we’re seniors and are over here taking senior and grad level courses,” Kevin began.
“Okay, say, you’re actually kind of following how the British educational system is set up; did you know that? Undergraduate study here has just three year levels: first, second, and third. Not freshman, sophomore, et cetera,” Porter interrupted.
“What do you mean?” Denise asked.
“Okay. It’s because of how secondary school works, and since you’re going to be kind of fostering a teen—you mentioned you’ll be the guardian of your friend’s daughter—this may help you in knowing about the school grade levels here. She’s—yes, like Jeremy, actually—just finished with the sophomore year, if she were in the States. Here it’s year eleven and there are special exams that the schools hold. Jeremy can tell you about them. The next grade is called ‘sixth form, ‘ and is divided into two years, lower and upper, or years 12 and 13, and that’s when the U.K. education system runs its ‘A-Level’ classes. A-Level means ‘advanced level.’ Many sixth-form schools are called ‘colleges’ but those are still secondary schools, not like in the States. ‘Colleges’ here are advanced high schools. Then after sixth form comes not college but uni—that’s British slang for ‘university.’
“Now, completing sixth form is functionally the same as the U.S. first post-secondary year, the college freshman year. The university levels are called first year, second year, third—not freshmen or sophomores. Sometimes the kids just starting uni might be called ‘freshers’ but not for their entire first year, usually. After three years of uni, one graduates with a bachelor’s, or can stay on for a fourth year, which is for a master’s degree. Actually, Kevin, the education system in South Korea is very close to the one in the States, and the one in Indonesia is kind of like a combination of the British and American ones. Understand?”
“Wow, that’s a lot to absorb. But it’s really like the U.S. but shifted one year, right?”
“Yes, you can think of it that way, I suppose. There are some differences, but generally that would work. So what are you going to study? Denise, how about you? I don’t want you to think we’re ignoring you.” he grinned at her.
Naomi had been whispering intently in Denise’s ear; Denise looked up at him and Naomi blushed.
“Oh no, Warren, I’m fascinated by this grade level thing. My classes? I’ll be taking classes at both London School of Liberal Arts and Education and the University Institute of London. There are two education classes I’m taking—educational statistics and adolescent developmental psychology—that I need for the program I designed at Avery, plus biochemistry and cell biology and genetics for my pre-med program. And since the two campuses aren’t far apart—a couple of subway stops—this is doable.”
“I’m impressed; that’s really rigorous. By the way, in the U.K. the subways are called the ‘underground’ or the ‘tube’ and it’s ‘sitting’ a class or exam,” Porter grinned at her. “A ‘subway’ is kind of a walkway under a street. Just get used to the Britishisms; I had to and sometimes misusing an idiom can be embarrassing, you know! Kevin, are you letting your wonderful fiancée outshine you?”
“Ha! She does that all the time! She’s wa-a-a-y smarter than me...” Denise stuck her tongue out at him. “ ... so I’m limiting myself to only one school. I’ll be going to the London Economics Institute for classes in finance, management, political science, and economics. But, wow, you’ve really got quite the assignment here; Mom had always said that the U.K. posting was a real plum.”
“Yes, thanks, son, I’m sure your mom would have gotten this posting within a few years. My position is ‘minister-counselor’; it’s the deputy chief of mission post and second to the ambassador—which you know is a political appointment. So I basically serve as the chief operating officer of the embassy. I’ll be here perhaps five years, maybe longer, depends on a lot of factors. Hey kids, we’ve left you out of the conversation—want to ask Denise and Kevin anything?”
Naomi blushed and looked down but Jeremy looked like he wanted to burst.
“Jeremy?” Barbara prompted.
“Kevin, I gotta tell ya, your teaching me taekwondo was brill and I’m a fourth dan now! I got my fourth degree belt when I left Seoul last January! And Kwanjang nim Park told me that you were the reason I advanced so quickly!”
“Wow, Jeremy, good one!” Kevin exclaimed. “I only made fifth degree a year ago and Denise has studied the Art with me too and she holds a red belt now. You’re doing great; are you continuing in London—do you have a dojang here?”
“Oh yes, if you can, I’d love to work with you again.”
“Yeah, right, and maybe teach me this time, okay? And I’m not joking, Master Park is just the best and you’ve been with him since when? I think you were ten years old, right?”
“Sure, and you were my kyosah nim for maybe three years and taught me a lot,” he confirmed.
Kevin turned to Bobbie. “Hey Bobbie, you gonna follow in your big brother’s footsteps? Learn taekwondo too?”
“Sure!” the boy chirped. “Jeremy will be taking me to the dojang for beginner classes next month. Soon I’ll be able to beat him!”
“Whoa, squirt, slow down! The Art isn’t about beating up on others, you know,” Kevin cautioned. “It’s a way of thinking—using your mind and body, growing up, and being a moral and ethical person. The physical training is good for the body and for your health. It’s not to be a good fighter, but that happens as you train as a side benefit—okay, buddy? Right, Jeremy?”
“Oh yeah, for sure; I can see the difference between the teens at taekwondo and the others in my school; the dojang kids seem so much more mature than the other kids,” Jeremy acknowledged.
“I can second that,” Denise broke in. “When Kevin showed up at my school, he had everyone thinking he was some kind of superhero—he acted with such a commanding presence that everyone took notice.”
Barbara looked at her. “Is this about what he did when you had that nudity thing you were forced to do? When you visited us in Seoul, I recall that you mentioned something about his rescuing you from that.”
“Oh yes. He did so much for everyone and you remember that he got the president’s award. Well, two—almost three years ago now—some college friends of ours were able to basically stop that nudity program from being mandatory in the United States, and they used Kevin’s work as the basis for getting it stopped. And Kevin, don’t you dare disagree—you’re way too modest.”
Kevin just threw up his arms in resignation. “Okay, darling ... whatever...”
“See, he’s finally learning to listen,” Denise smiled.
“Hmmm, maybe he should give Warren some tips,” Barbara joked. “He hasn’t learned yet, you know.”
“Time to change the topic,” Porter grinned. “I know when trouble is coming. And speaking of trouble, that school nudity issue may be resolving in the States, but it’s huge here.”
“Yeah, Dad, and I’m really scared,” Naomi spoke for the first time. “After what happened with Jeremy and his school and all, I don’t want to have to get naked!”
Denise sat up, alarmed. “What! You mean they have that damned Program here too—excuse my language, but that’s shocking!”
“Oh yeah they do; it was in my school when I got here last January,” Jeremy broke in. “I started here spring term as a year eleven and starting midyear was tough because this was the GCSE exam year...”
“Huh?” both Kevin and Denise said. “What’s that?” Denise asked.
“Oh. The year eleven exams. I think it means General Certificate of Secondary Ed or something. You have to pass those exams to go on to take A-Level classes or else you can’t go to uni.”
“Ah,” Denise said, “many states in the U.S. require kids to take some form of standardized exam.”
“Yes, but not really like these,” Porter interrupted. “In the States, those exams are for measurement of achievement. Here, they’re needed for the kids to advance to the next level, so they’re really important. Just like Korea for getting into university, in fact. Go on, son.”
“Yeah, so anyway, my first days in school I saw kids walking around in school starkers—so weird!—and when I asked what was happening, everyone looked at me as if I was from outer space.”
Denise giggled, “Yeah, in our school we thought Kevin was the man from Mars...”
“I found out that the idea came from you Yanks, that the Naked in School idea started there. Some people thought it would be a great idea to do it here too. Like it was helpful for personal development or some other rot,” Jeremy said dismissively.
“Yeah, and I’m scared of having to do it; I’ll run away or something,” Naomi moaned. “Maybe Kevin will save me like he saved Denise. Jeremy, tell them the horrid thing that happened with that girl!”
Denise reached around and hugged Naomi, who grabbed her hand and held on tightly.
“Yeah, sis. What Naomi means is that at my school last fall, you know, before I got here, a girl was killed by her brothers because she got put in the Program.”
“Oh my God!” Denise exclaimed. “What ... how...”
“Maybe I should mention,” Porter interjected, “that we have quite a large Muslim community in London; actually throughout England, but there are a lot of Muslims here and many are very conservative. The schools all have strict dress policies but they’ve adapted school dress policies to allow wearing of the hijab, you know, the Muslim head scarf. I don’t think schools allow the burqa, where only the eyes show, but the hijabs are always allowed. I understand they’re to preserve the girls’ modesty by covering the hair and sometimes neck too. And they also wear long sleeves with their legs covered. Imagine then the loss of modesty, the humiliation, for a girl required by her faith to be all covered up, when she’s put in the Program. Go on, son.”
“Okay, Dad. This girl in my school, she was a year ten, refused to go to the head’s office when they called her, so some teachers dragged her there and stripped her off and pushed her starkers into the hall. I heard that she ran away to hide and found an unlocked closet of some kind and blocked the door shut and wouldn’t come out and since the door was solid, they couldn’t break it in. They called her mum who finally got the girl to come out but only after her mum promised that she had a coverup for her.
“Anyway, I heard that she didn’t come back to school again and then my mum saw in the paper when we arrived in London about her killing ... what was it called again, Mum?”
“They said it was an honor killing,” Barbara answered.
“Okay, the girl had been killed by her brothers for dishonoring herself and her family,” Jeremy finished.
“Oh my god,” Denise breathed, “killing for honor? What’s that about?”
Barbara explained. “As I read about it, this is a twisted practice that’s fairly widespread in some middle-eastern cultures. Here in England, there are lots of Muslim immigrants and many come from areas where the practice is common. An honor killing or other honor-related crime happens when someone in the victim’s family comes to believe that the victim has brought shame or dishonor to the family and has to be punished. I think that the usual causes of family dishonor have been the victim’s getting engaged to someone who the family disapproves of, or having sex outside marriage, or engaging in homosexual activities, or even involuntary things like becoming the victim of rape. Some Muslim mullahs have even preached that a girl who dresses in inappropriate ways should be killed. For the girl in Jeremy’s school, her brothers apparently felt that her being naked in public was dishonorable to them so they killed her. Now they’ve both been charged with her murder.”
Porter continued on the topic, “And there have been a fair number of honor killings in London over the past couple of years. Three involved Muslim girls who were in the Program so there’s been an outcry by Muslims over the Program demanding to be exempt and by non-Muslims calling for equal treatment. So far the authorities have decided to maintain the status quo and not exempt anyone, so much so that any exemption is very difficult to obtain.”
Barbara resumed her explanation. “We’ve switched Jeremy to an independent school for this fall since the Program is only run in state-funded schools. At least that’s how the law had to be written to pass. This will apply to you too, Naomi, next year you’ll go to an independent school without the Program,” she said reassuring her daughter who visibly relaxed at hearing that comment.
“Yeah, but there was more that happened, too,” Jeremy went on. “There’ve also been suicides. The first one happened—I think it was a couple of years ago in one of the first schools in England where they ran the Program. That girl was Christian, very religious, and very modest and withdrawn, but when they forced her to strip, she kind of became like a zombie; she was spaced out and went through the first three days like a robot. Then she went missing and didn’t show up for school the next day. They found her body later that day huddled in a classroom cupboard. She had overdosed the day before and climbed into the cupboard to die. She had a kind of diary with her where she wrote how she had suffered.
“You know what’s sick is that everyone in school has to read what she wrote in that diary so that they know about how not to treat someone in the Program so they don’t get so desperate that they want to kill themself. But I think there’s a real good way to avoid that: don’t have the bloody Program!”
Barbara shot him a look. “Hey, watch the language, buster. Well, I’ve also heard of Muslim girls suiciding but I wonder if some of them might be honor killings in disguise.”
“There’s even more, and this really snowed Mum and Dad...”
“Um, tell them about that Brit slang, Jeremy. ‘Snow’ means something different to us Yanks,” Barbara prompted.
“Uh, sorry, there’s this cool Brit rhyming slang they use. Well, ‘snow’ is short for ‘snow flurries, ‘ okay, and ‘flurries’ rhymes...”
“ ... with ‘worries’? Oh dear,” Denise interrupted, chuckling, “ ... with ‘worries.’ A snowed mom and dad. That’s so awful it’s almost funny.”
“Yeah, it’s so cool, like a secret language. We kids love to use it,” Jeremy explained. “Actually it goes ‘no snow, ‘ meaning ‘no worries, ‘ but we like using ‘snowed’ to mean ‘worried’ also. Hey, do you know what a ‘septic’ is?”
He got blank stares.
“I know!” cried Naomi.
“Yeah, sis, you’d know of course—go ahead.”
“It’s a Yank! From ‘septic tank’!”
The others groaned, then laughed.
“Really?” Kevin grinned. “That’s so bad.”
“Anyway,” Jeremy want on, “what was so bad happened at the beginning of last March, when I got put in the Program. A Muslim girl was picked then and again, she didn’t go to the head’s office. They didn’t learn from last fall and sent some teachers to fetch her, and they stripped her off like the other time. But I was there and grabbed a window curtain from the office, wrapped her in it, and got her out of the room and hid her. She told me to get her sister and I did and we snuck the girl out. But neither of the girls returned to our school. Then the next week, the head teacher’s car was firebombed in the car park just when he was supposed to be driving away but he had gotten delayed in school for a few minutes. That saved him. We found out that the firebombing was because of the girl’s being dishonored. Now the police have to watch out for him and his family.”
“That’s the main reason we wanted to get Jeremy out of that school. We didn’t think it was safe, despite that it’s so close to the government center here,” Barbara said.
“And Mum, I’m not done yet, either! I really got in trouble with the school for doing that for her. I also got in trouble when I showed the head teacher all the things that were wrong with the Program and how the rules violated the school’s Pupil Handbook. There’s such a difference between the Pupil Handbook, the dress code, and the Program rules,” Jeremy went on. “I kept my copies—let me get them. Be right back.”
While Jeremy was gone, Kevin remarked, “In the States the private schools didn’t have the Program while all the public schools did. Do you have a lot of private schools in London to keep him out of the Program?”
“It’s complicated,” Porter said thoughtfully. “The terminology is different and what you think of as ‘public’ isn’t what you’re used to. Let’s see ... the ‘public schools’ here are actually tuition based and many of them are boarding schools. They’re called ‘public’ because their enrollment is open to kids from outside their community areas. They aren’t run by the government for the students in their community. Okay ... now ‘private’ schools—or ‘independent’ as some are called—operate without government control and confusingly they can be called a ‘public school’ too, open to kids from anywhere. These schools all charge tuition. Now what you think of as ‘public schools’ are really ‘state schools’ for want of a single term and for these, the education is free of charge to the pupils. And there are something like six different kinds of state schools but I’m not sure about how they may differ,” he finished with an apologetic grin.
“Another thing is that lots of schools are single-sex; maybe 15 percent of them, I’m guessing,” Barbara said. “I fail to see how that naked Program would be of any use in those schools, from what I’ve read about its supposed goals. Since the Program is limited to state schools and there are plenty of non-state schools nearby, Jeremy will be attending one of those ... ah, here he is.”
Jeremy exhibited a pamphlet when he came in. “See, look at this booklet with the naked kids on the cover. It talks all about how kids have to let themselves be touched in their privates and even be made to play with their private parts in front of other kids. And you’re supposed to let other kids touch you and fondle your privates—you can’t refuse to let yourself be groped that way. I couldn’t even bear to watch when the kids were forced to let others do it. With me, I thought it was so humiliating that I wouldn’t let anyone get near me. Also in classes, kids had to let themselves be used as subjects and made to wank themselves too.” He saw the puzzled look on Denise’s face. “Ah, ‘wank’ is masturbate,” he blushed. “They couldn’t cover up in any way. If they tried to cover themselves, they could have their wrists braceleted!”
Denise winced. “Yes, Jeremy, we know, we saw all that too and it was bad, like you said.”
“Yeah, but look at this booklet. This is the pupil handbook for our school. It lists the dress code which has to be followed and if you don’t dress properly, they send you home. You have to dress just like they say. Nothing in here talks about NO clothes! But even more, listen to what this part says: ‘Every pupil has an equal right to feel safe and valued. We do not expect any pupil to feel upset, scared or unhappy about coming to school or being in school.’ And then it says, ‘You do not have the right to touch anybody else or their personal belongings. This means you keep your hands and feet to yourself. Respect the personal space of others and keep any contact to a minimum, unless you are helping or supporting another pupil or friend.’
“But the Program book says to ignore all that! It makes kids scared to come to school and says that we have to allow anyone to grope us! How does that help us learn how to behave with others? Look at the first page in the pupil booklet here. It says we have to behave with integrity and courtesy: ‘Courtesy simply means demonstrating polite behavior; that you have excellent manners and social conduct. We expect you to be courteous to all other members of the school community and visitors to our school. Behave with integrity and demonstrate courtesy at all times.’
“See, in the Program they’re teaching us that our bodies are public and we have no privacy; that rules that are meant to protect us can be shoved aside anytime someone in authority gets a dumb idea.”
“Jeremy, you sound just like Kevin did when he found out about the Program at our school,” Denise remarked. “You’ll have a good career as a lawyer, or heavens, maybe even a diplomat.”
Kevin had been paging through the Program booklet. He looked up then. “You know, Warren, the booklet mentions diplomatic status as an exemption item. Our booklet did too. We had an exchange student from England at my first high school who got picked to participate. I told the principal not to force her to strip before the school got legal advice and also contacted the British embassy or consulate. It turned out that the embassy advised her not to participate. Wasn’t that the same thing for Jeremy?”
“That’s a question that’s been roiling our office and also Foggy Bottom,” Porter replied. “It’s not clear, since the Program is on the books as law in the States—and I know how the courts have ruled there, but that law hasn’t been repealed yet. Jeremy did start the Program under protest, as he put it, but then quickly stopped participating. So we’ve advised embassy personnel to use non-state schools for their kids to avoid the problem.”
Naomi and Bobby had long since gotten bored with the conversation and were now sitting in a corner talking quietly. At the next brief lull in the conversation, Bobbie piped up, “Are you done talking yet ‘cause we’re hungry!”
“Sure, sport,” Porter said, “you’re right and I think Missus Sheppard should have dinner ready by now, actually. Let’s go to the dining room, folks.”
The rest of the evening passed with the conversation moving to less serious topics with everyone enjoying the excellent dinner. Soon the time came to leave and the Porters extended their invitation to come visit again when Kevin and Denise wanted more “family time.”
During the ride home in the embassy limo, Kevin asked Denise what she and Naomi were whispering about. “Sweetie, Naomi was so cute! She was blushing and sneaking glances at me so I’m really curious,” he said.
“Girl talk, buster,” Denise grinned. “Naomi would be so humiliated.”
“Oh come on, I won’t let on that you told me.”
“Well, let’s just say she was seriously crushing on you; now don’t get a swelled head,” Denise laughed. “She thinks you’re a major hunk.”
The following morning, the couple’s plans included paying a visit to their colleges to take care of any necessary final paperwork and to learn the best way to travel between their flat and the schools.
“Well, according to the tube map, let’s try taking the line from Stockwell station—it’s ... um ... the Victoria tube to the Warren station ... see, it’s the light blue line here,” Denise pointed to the map.
“Okay; if we leave together we could take the same line and I’d transfer here or here,” pointing to Leicester Square, then Tottenham Court Road, “and go to Holborn,” Kevin said. “Or take the Northern tube to Piccadilly ... say, look, Northern also goes to Warren, see? The black line?”
“Oh yeah. We’ll have to try them both to see which is better, like how often trains run. And check out bus lines too.”
“Well, since you’ve got two schools to check on getting to, let’s do yours first. I think that the only thing I need to do at LEI is give my local contact info.”
The first stop was the University Institute of London, where Denise completed her paperwork and then confirmed that the class schedules hadn’t changed. Then the two set out to locate the buildings where the classes were held.
“Kevin, I’ll need to see how to get from here to the Liberal Arts and Education college. It’s about a mile and I could walk, but it’s so friggin’ hot now! Anyway, let’s see about transit for now and when the weather’s bad ... it’s London; the weather’s unpredictable, right? I’ve noticed how many people carry umbrellas!”
Soon they were at Denise’s other school. Here she found that she had to meet with an academic advisor and go over her Avery University transcript, even though she had already submitted all of the required paperwork and had paid receipts for the classes she would be taking.
“Is there a problem?” she asked the harried advisor. “I’ve got all the prerequisites for these classes, as you can see, and I’m taking them for exchange credit at Avery; my program advisor there set this up with your college.”
“Ah, there’s no problem really, dear,” the woman sighed, “it’s just that with new rulings from the government, we’ve got so much more work on our plates now.”
“Sorry to cause you extra work, then,” Denise sympathized with her. “But I thought colleges were sort of independent from governmental ... um ... oversight? Is that what’s happening?”
“Yes, it’s oversight, miss. By the way, ‘college’ is the term for the sixth form of secondary schools, dear. We are a university, not a college. Now you see, for most every uni program, the state has no say about curriculum at all, except for the teacher ed programs. They keep a close watch over uni teacher training programs. The Ofsted inspectors examined our courses this spring, part of maintaining government standards...”
“Um, ‘Ofsted’?” Denise interrupted.
“Oh yes; you’re a Yank,” the woman grinned. “We’re so different here. That’s the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills and they report to Parliament through the Department for Education. So everyone enrolling in an ed course needs to be vetted for their preparation in meeting Ofsted standards and there’s not a separate ‘track, ‘ if you would, for foreign students. That’s why I had to go over your packet with you. Well, I see that everything in your record does appear to be completely in order. And of course you needn’t appear at the ed school Reception before classes begin, it seems; since you’re only sitting these two advanced subjects.”
“Um, sorry, I’m lost again,” Denise said slowly. “What is it I needn’t do?”
“Oh, ‘Reception’ is the office—our school’s main office. Our students beginning their teacher ed program have to go to Reception before classes on their first day to have their orientation. They get instructions about their classes and the other school requirements then. According to your enrollment status, you’re not in that group.”
“That’s good, I suppose...” Denise took a breath. “So I have both classes scheduled now and I just show up at the proper times? I’m being really careful to check because I’m also enrolled at UIL and have classes there five days a week, so I’ll be traveling back and forth; I don’t need any surprises.”
“No dear, your two classes are your only responsibility. Good luck with your studies and please remember that I’m here to help for academic guidance if you should need it while you’re enrolled. Nice meeting you.”
“Likewise and thanks,” Denise said as she shook hands—with a light touch; she had heard that handshaking among British women was not a vigorous activity.
As they left the building, Denise sighed. “Well, that was an experience. If I thought we had a lot of bureaucracy back at Avery, these people put them to shame. Now I know how the Brits got their rep.”
“Well, the masters of red tape are in the former colonies, like India or Singapore; a little in Indonesia too. The Brits taught them well. You can go crazy with the bureaucrats in those countries,” Kevin grinned. “Okay, my turn now; we’ve still got time to get to LEI and I only need to let them know I’m here and give my local address and contact info.”
Soon they were on their way home.
Later that evening, Kevin was using his laptop and after a while, looked up at Denise.
“So I’ve been looking at the website of the school that Amelia’s supposed to attend. She and her dad picked it out because it’s got a great performing arts program and you know how she likes acting.”
Denise came over and sat down.
“This? Norwich Academy Secondary School?” she asked.
“That’s it. Very selective—you have to audition. She sent a DVD of a play she was in and some other stuff because she couldn’t appear in person.”
“Hmmm,” Denise murmured, “it’s small too; only about 850 kids. Wow, it’s multi-cultural—see, English isn’t the primary language for about 40 percent of the kids. But they have a high rating; the average GCSE score—that’s the test Jeremy said they take in the eleventh year—for their kids is above the national average.”
“Yeah, darling, it seems to be a good place and it’s why Elliott said we should get a flat here in Lambeth,” Kevin said. “The school isn’t very far away—maybe two miles.”
Kevin’s father had created a charitable organization, the Coris Foundation in Jakarta, of which Kevin was the sole “stockholder” since his father died. Elliott Hadad, Amelia’s father and a Brit, had recently been engaged as the foundation’s CFO and was sending his daughter to London for her final years of high school study.
“So we’ll need to see about her transportation too, then,” Denise mused, working at the keyboard. “Looks like there’s a public bus route that comes close. This is so different from where I grew up back in North Carolina—different even from Atlanta. London is really a huge, complicated place!”
“Denise, another thing I was looking at was the differences in school types—what Warren mentioned, he said that there’re different kinds of state schools. I was curious about the differences so I looked them up. The differences are basically technical, things like funding and governance and don’t involve the kids or the instruction. There are really huge differences in their education systems from ours! Look at what these schools are called: academy schools, two kinds of voluntary schools, community schools, foundation schools, free ... aaggghh! Like Warren said, it’s so complicated. Anyway, Amelia is in an independent school—see? It’s got a tuition component and pupils get state grants which help keep tuition affordable.
“But while I was searching around, I found something interesting. For all the ‘state’ schools I looked at, their sites show the Naked in School rules. But it’s like Jeremy said—their pupil handbooks all prohibit the students from doing the things that the Program rules require.
“Then I noticed that there are lots of schools which are single sex, like Barbara mentioned, and their Program rules are identical to the coed schools! What the heck? There are no opposite-sex bathrooms or locker rooms to be required to be used! All of the other rules that discuss sexual contact between kids are covered in the single-sex schools’ Program booklets too. Does that imply that they want those kids to get into homosexual activity—to ‘become more comfortable with their sexuality’—with the same sex? And yet another difference in the U.S. Program and the one here is that a fair number of schools are not fully state-funded—a lot are run by foundations and even religious groups or companies—so the Program doesn’t operate in those. That could mean that a significant part of the student population would never be in the Program. It beats me how the theory behind the Program could possibly work in this country’s school system.
“Another interesting thing was when I looked at the Program rules, from what I recall, most of the British rules are very similar to what we had in the States. The only differences seemed to involve permitted sexual contact; seems that in the U.K. the victim has a bit more personal control over what others can do to him. But since the U.S. Program website is long gone, I couldn’t find a copy of the old U.S. Program booklet to check. But it seems to me like they just copied everything the U.S. was doing without much tailoring to work in the school structures here. This is so completely fouled up that I can see why all the problems Jeremy mentioned are happening. I’m so, so glad I won’t have to deal with all that crap ever again,” he finished emphatically.
“Yeah, me too, and I’m looking forward to this year with nothing to distract us,” Denise said. “Now come give me a hug and let’s get to bed, sweetie.”