IT ALL began innocently enough. My school - a mixed Catholic comprehensive - was on a split site, and it was a 15-minute walk between buildings for lessons. Jim was one of those teachers who would offer lifts to pupils. He had a Triumph Spitfire. We'd gossip about the other teachers, and he'd tell us about the big wide world outside.

He was a real laid-back Sixties type. He smoked in class, rarely wore a suit, kept his hair long, and treated pupils like equals. But he managed to combine an easy-going defiance with a serious commitment to his profession. He was liked and respected by colleagues and the kids.

I was 14 and precocious. He was 26 and married. There was an obvious chemistry between us right from the start: a lot of eye contact; we kept 'accidentally' brushing into each other. Eventually he asked me if I'd like to go for a drink. The fact that such a liaison was forbidden, that it broke all the rules, only added to the excitement. Soon after, we went for a drive, and he kissed me for the first time in a lay-by. I relished every risky minute of it.

The relationship continued for two years before I had proper sex with him (he was worried about having sex with me before I was 16). If his wife was away, we'd go to his place. Once it became a bit more serious between us he left his wife and moved into a flat near where I was living with my parents. I wasn't aware of what his wife must have been going through - I didn't have any thoughts for her. He never talked about her.

Sundays became a ritual, me telling my folks I was off to see a friend. I'd arrive at his house, where we would make love all day. He would cook, we'd eat, and make love again. We'd sit in bed discussing my homework. Life was exciting, complicated, deceitful, but I was vigilant in maintaining the lie.

At school, we took crazy risks, but convinced ourselves that no one suspected anything. Looking back on it, I'm sure many of my friends, as well as his, had some idea of what was going on. He had a large storeroom at the back of his classroom, lined with bookshelves and containing a few desks. It was quiet, private and an ideal place for me to 'study'. In fact it became the perfect place for us to snatch a few moments kissing and cuddling in private, while he dodged in and out of the classroom teaching a group of third-formers.

I was made head girl. In that position I could cunningly organise things where we could be together: discos in the commonroom; charity darts matches; sponsored walks where we'd get 'lost'. Then there was the trip to France, organised for a handful of students. Embarrassingly, another teacher caught us in bed together, but thankfully he never told anyone. Another time we were almost caught sharing a shower together on a school trip in Scotland.

The situation became increasingly difficult. Obviously people had started gossiping, and other teachers at school had started warning him that senior members of staff were becoming suspicious. One of the people he was living with caught us making love in his bedroom and I became terrified that soon everyone in the local pub where my parents drank would hear about it.

Eventually my parents did find out. I'd always pretended I was going out with other boys to keep them happy. But one night, when I was supposed to be out with Mike, I discovered that Mike had called round at my home. That blew my cover, and I was forced to tell them the truth. Although my parents never confronted Jim, he decided to leave the school and go and teach abroad.

We kept in touch by letter. A close friend of mine, Carol, agreed to let me use her address for our correspondence. His job didn't work out, and after a couple of months he came back and got a job managing a bar. I went off to university in the south-west of England.

One day I came back to see him at his flat. While he was talking to someone on the phone, I noticed a letter on his desk. It was from another woman. It said how she couldn't wait to see him again; how sex with him was brilliant - pretty crude stuff. When he came back into the room, I held it up in front of him. He was shocked - horrified I'd caught him out. Then he went all guilty. He admitted he'd been sleeping with somebody else for weeks, and said that our relationship couldn't have worked anyway. We had a blazing row, and I went straight back to university that night.

I rang him a couple of times after that, bawling my heart out, asking him if we could get back together, but he just said it was over. Eventually I stopped ringing.

I had lived a lie for nearly five years - all for nothing. I was young, and foolishly believed that when I finished university we'd be able to live together, openly. I embarked on a campaign to sleep with and hurt as many men as possible. I started drinking, took copious amounts of drugs, and failed to turn up for lectures (these were the heady days of female liberation and pre-Aids). But, needless to say, the only person who got hurt was me.

It took me a long time to get over our relationship. After a couple of years, I did meet someone at university, whom I eventually married. I was married to Jerry for four years, but I don't think I ever loved him completely, although I was reasonably happy.

I have always found the company of older people more interesting than my own peer group. My last boyfriend was 15 years older than me. I learn a lot from them.

In many ways Jim did a lot for me. He persuaded me to go to university. He encouraged me to study hard for my A-levels. I have seen him since, and I suppose if I was in big trouble I'd still look to him for support - though any romantic interest in him is long since dead.

I have been married, divorced, and at Christmas ended another long-term relationship. I've recently been out with a man my own age - sadly that, too, is now over. I find it hard to form lasting relationships. I am too suspicious, I do not trust men. I lost my heart to someone in a position of authority very early in my life; someone who betrayed his position, and then betrayed me.