Lisa Markwell: One crazy fling, two lives blighted

This case will resonate with those who have read 'Notes on a Scandal'

Share
Related Topics

Some people clearly found details amusing in the case of music teacher Helen Goddard and her sexual relationship with a female pupil. Like the fact that she was the "trumpet mistress", for instance. Fnarr, fnarr.

The breathless language the case prompted is itself laughable. "She whisked girl off to Paris" (why does no one ever just get taken to Paris, only ever whisked?) More unpleasantly and insidiously, one report had Ms Goddard as "a slim blonde who faced the court in a tight blouse..." when what I saw was a terrified young woman with the drawn face and skeletal arms of someone unable to keep food down.

The case resonates with anyone who has read or seen Notes on a Scandal, Zoe Heller's dark tale of a female teacher's illicit affair with a 15-year-old pupil (the difference, of course, being that the pupil was a boy and somehow deemed less vulnerable). Adults who, through deceit or pure idiocy, form a relationship with an underage partner cannot expect anything other than scandal, disgrace and criminality as a result.

But what of the pupil? Fifteen years old today is not what it was when we were young – and, as a child of the 1970s, I know we were getting up to all sorts while underage back then. No doubt, and I am sorry that this sounds brutal to the girl's parents and others, many of her classmates are already sexually active, so the idea of "falling in love" and making love with someone older and seemingly more sophisticated is just not that big a deal.

I think it is the lesbian aspect that most find unsettling. Older female teacher with adolescent boy is a surprising rather than shocking dynamic: a friend was slightly alarmed at parents evening to see her 12-year-old son's form teacher with acres of cleavage on display. And there are plenty of twentysomething men with teenage girlfriends out there (or remember when David Walliams, 37, was walking out with an 18-year-old?). I've seen a certain cheeky gay comedian on a date with a boy so young he still lived at home with daddy, and no one blinked an eye.

But these girls? (I'm calling Goddard a girl because, at 26, she still is one.) Well, it's less usual, less understandable, to the vanilla tastes of most of the nation. I stop short of feeling sorry for the teacher, but as the result of a coup de foudre (since she'd never had a lesbian relationship before) her entire life is now blighted.

As may be the girl's. She will be 16 – and legally allowed to have sex – at the end of September. She also loses the right to anonymity on the same day. She and Ms Goddard hope to revive their relationship in 15 months' time. If the girl is waiting at the prison gates, so will the long lenses.

It won't last of course. Teenagers are notoriously fickle and first love rarely makes it past university. That is what the girl's parents must think of while accepting that their little girl wants to make her own decisions.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to read the reviews – whether they are fnarr, fnarr or hand-wringing – of an unnervingly prescient film called Cracks coming out in December, about the intense relationship between an enigmatic female swimming teacher at an all-girls school and her favourite pupil...

l.markwell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service