Even Teachers Need to LearnbySpykke©
I slumped in my seat on the train, tired and cold. I had just spent two busy days in London and was on my way back to Yorkshire where I was a post-graduate student at the University of Bradford.
It was the coldest February for some time and the snow lay thick on the ground. I was grateful that I had worn my unfashionable but very warm woolen overcoat along with my long university scarf. Usually only worn by freshers, my scarf spent most of it's life in my wardrobe. In those days of the late 1960's my usual choice of clothes was worn Levis, a variety of T or sweat shirts, a leather jacket and boots. I had got a taste for knee high stiefel during my industrial training in Germany. I had never latched into the hippy ethos but I did wear my hair at shoulder length, albeit tied in a pony tail.
As for me, well my name is Henry Jones. Not the coolest of names and I preferred to be known as H. At the ripe age of 25 I had taken my first degree in Chemical Engineering and was in my final year of my PhD. The University of Bradford had been a College of Advanced Technology, or CAT but had been converted to a university in the mid 1960's. While the older, more established universities regarded us to be upstarts, we had established superb links with industry and delivered a good quality, well balanced undergraduate course. This had resulted in me spending a six month periods working in Germany, six months in Switzerland and a nine month period in the USA. All served to make me mature and confident as well as landing me a lucrative sponsorship for my research.
Life was pretty good as a post-grad. Apart from the time I had to spend working on my research, I also spent time tutoring under-grads. This not only earned a little cash, it also gave me a chance to get to know the few female undergrads in the chemical engineering department. Because I got a first in my first degree I also managed to get sponsorship for my research. This meant that my sponsor got the advantage of my results and I got a decent lump of cash. I had completed my research and the past two days had been spent with my sponsors discussing the outcomes and my draft thesis.
Although it was mid afternoon, the sullen, overcast sky made it feel later than is actually was. The weather was so bad that there were few people on the train. I heard the doors slamming in anticipation of the train leaving when a girl came into my carriage. She was breathing slightly heavily as if she had been rushing.
"May I sit here?" she asked, pointing at the seat opposite me.
"Please do," I replied.
She was a stunning girl, incredibly pretty with a thick bush of wavy blond hair. She wore a thick brown coat, a knitted woolen hat and a university scarf. The scarf had the distinctive colours of the chemical engineering faculty of my alma mata. She took off her coat and hat. She wore a ribbed sweater, knee length woolen dress, warm boots and knitted stockings or tights – she was well prepared for the cold. She was a short, slightly dumpy girl with long, shoulder length, blonde hair. While not unattractive, some guys wouldn't have taken to her slightly plump middle. Personally, I was captivated by her cuteness.
She sat down with a sigh and relaxed. Her face had a pale, translucent quality and from her straw coloured eye brows I guessed that she was a genuine blonde. Her other obvious attribute was a pair of very large, perfectly shaped breasts.
The train shuddered and began to leave the station.
"Just made it, eh?" I commented, trying to break the ice.
She gave a little start and replied, "Yes, the roads were terrible, I nearly didn't make it."
Her voice was quiet and her eyes were slightly down-cast, not making eye contact. I suspected that she was a little on the shy side.
"Look, I'm just going to get a drink, can I get you a coffee – it'll help warm you through," I offered.
"Oh... yes please," She replied.
I went to the refreshment carriage and got a couple of large coffees and went back to my seat.
"I'm Henry Jones," I told her. "But my friends call me H."
"My name's Sylvia Lundegaard," she replied.
"Ah, Scandinavian," I said, "that explains your beautiful blonde hair."
"Only on my father's side. I'm born and bred in Worcestershire," she smiled, taking a sip of coffee.
"Are you a fresher?" I asked, nodding at her scarf.
"Yes, I've just finished my first industrial training. And you?"
"Afraid not, I'm an old hand," I explained. "I'm a post-grad."
She looked a little impressed.
"So are you looking forward to university life?"
"I think so although I'm a little nervous. I find it a little difficult getting to know new people," she admitted.
"You'll enjoy it, it's a great experience," I reassured her. "Are you in halls?"
"Yes, Dennis Bellamy Hall."
"So am I," I told her. "Normally they don't let post-grads stay in halls but I have a friend in the accommodation office. Halls are ideal for freshers – close to the university, decent food, comfortable rooms."
Sylvia smiled and I sensed she was a little relieved.
"So tell me about your industrial training..." I asked.
There's nothing like conversation to help a journey pass quickly. I took the opportunity to bring Sylvia up to speed on the many facets of life at university, telling her about all the good places to eat, drink and party. By the time we arrived at Bradford station I felt we were well on the way to establishing a rapport although Sylvia still had a shy reserve. I found it very easy to make her blush – the slightest comment would be enough to embarrass her.
The snow was thick and falling heavily so I hailed a taxi to the halls of residence. I accompanied Sylvia when she registered, paid her deposits and got her room keys.
"I'm in room F18," she told me.
"That's the floor below me," I told her, "I'm in G42."
Floors D, E and F were used to accommodate female students only and constituted a serious honey pot for the randy male students in the rest of the halls. At the end of each floor was a utility room with a washing machine, dryer and ironing facilities. There was also a kitchen with a fridge, kettle and small cooker. Since meals were included in hall fees, the kitchen was mostly used to prepare coffee and late night snacks.
I helped her lug her bags to her room.
"Give me a shout if I can help in any way," I told her, and left her to unpack and settle in."
The weather deteriorated over the next two days and although I was able to walk to the faculty, most of the lecturers and profs were snow bound and couldn't get in. Lectures had been cancelled until the snow cleared.
One of my most cherished possessions was, and still is, a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Guitar. My father had been in the states on business in 1958 and had seen the guitar in a music shop. Gibson had just introduced the use of book matched maple on the front face of Les Pauls and this guitar was a fine example with a particularly striking grain pattern. My father didn't play the guitar but had been attracted to the instrument and his instincts told him to buy it. It was a good investment. By the end of the 1960's, when he gave it to me, it was worth around £2000 – not that I would ever sell it. Over the years it's colour had mellowed and the sound improved beyond measure. I played blues and played through my Fender "tweed" amp it sounded fantastic.
The following Saturday afternoon I settled down to a practice session, working through my repertoire of blues numbers. My musical endeavours were interrupted by the ringing of my phone. It was Sylvia.
"Hope I didn't wake you but I wondered if you would like to come down for coffee," she asked.
An invitation to a girl's room for coffee could mean a number of things, including seduction. Whatever it was, it was usually fun. Naturally I agreed. I showered and shaved and was knocking on her door within the hour.
"Just a moment," I heard her call out.
Seconds later she opened the door and welcomed me in with a smile. She had wet, suds covered hands.
"Please sit down, I'm just finishing washing some things," she said as she turned to her sink. I watched her as she rinsed and wrung dry a few pairs of panties before hanging them over the radiator to dry.
"There, that'll keep me going until I can get to the laundry," she muttered to no-one in particular.
I stole a quick peep at her newly washed underwear. They were plain white cotton full briefs – very sexy.
Sylvia had decorated the room nicely handing up a variety of posters and photographs. She had put a woven throw over her bed and there were a variety of ornaments and candles. There was a pleasant smell of herbs from a number of tubs of potpourri.
She wore a white blouse and a long flowing skirt which looked Scandinavian. I could see her white, lacy bra through her blouse. She was bare footed.
"Would you like coffee or I have green tea if you prefer."
"Tea would be great," I replied. I had acquired a taste for green tea during my industrial training period in Switzerland.
Sylvia slipped out of the room for a few minutes to make the drinks. Once done, she sat cross legged on her bed. He skirt had ridden up above her knees exposing her feet and lower legs but hanging so that it covered her upper legs and crotch. I had had no sex since I split with my last girl friend 6 months previously and a lecherous thoughts flitted through my mind. I imagined how her crotch must look with her snug white panties gripping her fleshy mons. I pushed the thought from my mind, not wanting to become too frustrated. I really wanted the shag the arse off Sylvia but I actually liked the girl and I hoped that romance was on the cards.
Her calves were pale and smooth with a light dusting of golden hair. Her feet were tiny, her toe nails trimmed and unvarnished. The soles of her feet were dirty from where she had been walking about. I felt a strong urge to kiss and lick them.
"I was hoping that you might help me with some of my work. Although we've had no lectures I've been reading my heat transfer book," Sylvia explained.
"And there I was thinking that you invited me down because of my natural charm, charisma and general good company," I joked.
Sylvia blushed deep red.
"Oh... sorry... that was a little rude of me," she stammered.
"Relax, I was joking," I told her. "If you're going to spend time with me you must realise that I joke a lot. Now what is the problem?"
"Well I find the way that heat transfer is calculated rather odd. There seems to be no rigorous theory and a lot depends on fudges like Log mean Temperature Difference and general heat transfer coefficient correlations. It seems too approximate."
"Don't worry about it," I replied. "For most systems its perfectly sufficient to design a suitable exchanger on that basis. When you allow for fouling, which itself is difficult to estimate, there is already a lot of uncertainty. Also don't forget that heat exchanger manufacturers tend to use standard bundle sizes and configurations so all you need to do is make sure your design isn't undersized. The control system will ensure it works."
Throughout my little lecture Sylvia listened with a rapt expression, nodding as her understanding increased.
"The real time where things get tricky is with non-Newtonian fluids or condensation with non-condensable gases. Then you need to use a finite element approach. My research is looking at this area, you'll have to come and see my test rig sometime."
At that point Sylvia gave a giggle.
"'Come and see my test rig sometime' sounds like an alternative to 'come up and see my etchings'," she explained.
I could see that Sylvia had a real flair for the subject as she subjected me to half an hour of progressively more penetrating questions. Eventually I began to run out of steam.
"Enough already, you'll wear me out," I told her.
Sylvia smiled broadly.
"Sorry, but I love the subject."
"You'll have plenty of time to get to grips with it," I assured her.
The weather had worsened outside with the snow falling heavily and the sky leaden and dark. Sylvia lit a number of candles filling the room with a cosy glow. I couldn't think of anything more pleasant than sitting safe and warm inside while outside it was cold and inhospitable.
"Can I ask you a question?" I asked.
Sylvia looked suddenly alarmed but nodded.
"You seem awfully shy, why is that?"
Sylvia paused, gnawing her lip uncertainly – a trait I found somehow endearing.
"What do you see when you look at me?" she finally asked.
I hesitated, weighing my words carefully.
"I see a young and very attractive girl," I finally replied.
She gave an uncertain smile.
"Thankyou, but what people see is a dumpy girl with huge breasts," she contradicted.
I looked at her, befuddled. She had a great pair of tits.
"I was an early developer," she explained. "I began sprouting my breasts when I was nine – years before my friends. Do you know what its like to be different? The boys laughed at me and the girls were jealous. It was awful."
Sylvia's eyes filled and tears trickled down her cheeks.
"They're too big, I wish I could have them cut off," she sobbed.
I went over to her and sat on the bed beside her. I put my arm around her.
"Hey, now... now..., what's all this. That was in the past, take my word for it, you look just perfect. You've got a body to die for."
"You're just saying that," Sylvia sobbed with surprising venom, pulling away from me, "you men are only ever after one thing."
I was stunned at her anger, particularly since I had done nothing to deserve it.
"And what might that be?" I asked.
"You're only interested it what you can get. A quick grope maybe even a fuck."
Now that pissed me off big time. I didn't care how nice she was, no one spoke to me like that. I wouldn't mind if I was only interested in the insides of her knickers but I actually wanted to be a friend and help her out. I stood up.
"I'm sorry you have such a blinkered view of men," I told her, coldly. "You don't know me and yet you make unjustified assumptions. I think I'd better go and leave you to your self pity."
I left her room in a towering rage. If the weather had been better I would have gone down the pub but instead I headed down to the hall bar. I saw a group of post-grad pals sat at a table playing cards.
"Hey H, grab a drink and join us," one called out.
I never needed much encouragement so I bought a pint of Guinness and sat down for a drink and a chat. We soon got stuck into a drink and poker fest.
Later as I lay in bed, I pondered the strange beast that is woman. I found Sylvia's reaction inexplicable although there was no doubt something behind it. Having said that, there was no way I was going to let the strange behaviour of a somewhat immature girl upset me. I turned over, put her out of my mind and went to sleep.
As it turned out, the next two weeks were extremely hectic. My sponsors were very excited about the results of my work and I was summoned back to London to discuss my future. The outcome was beyond my wildest dreams. They offered my a full time job at a jaw dropping salary with immediate effect but with my work commencing in September that year, allowing me time to submit my thesis and deliver my outstanding tutoring responsibilities while on a salary. I was seriously happy to say the least.
Once I got back to Bradford it was time for the daily grind. The snow had largely cleared and lectures had resumed. I headed to my tiny office, stopping at my pigeon hole on the way to pick up my post. Amongst it was my list of tutorial groups. I had been assigned two groups of 6 students from the first year. Amongst them was Sylvia. I gave a quiet sigh, I hoped she wasn't going to cause any disruption.
Any concerns I may have had were soon dispelled. Out of her group, Sylvia was the only student with any real flair for chemical engineering. She was quiet and somewhat shy but her contributions were always perceptive and significant. She studiously avoided my gaze, tending to keep her eyes fixed on the floor.
This continued for the next couple of weeks until one day she held back after the other students had left my office.
"C... could I speak with you?" she asked, nervously.
I grunted impatiently - I had a tendency to be a little slow on forgiveness.
"L... look, I want to apologise," she began. "I wasn't very fair to you. I don't have much experience with men. The few boys I went out with were only interested in putting their hands up my skirt or sweater. Can we start again?"
"OK," I sighed, "come and sit down," I told her.
I sat waiting for her to speak. Sylvia was the epitome of nervousness. She held her hands in her lap, twisting her fingers together. She stared down. After a few minutes she sighed and looked up.
"I'm sorry Henry," she began, her face flushed, gnawing her lip. "My experiences with boys hasn't been good, in fact they've been terrible.
"You've got to try and learn to trust people. What blokes think and do are not always the same. Now I'll admit that I would very much like to explore every part of your gorgeous body but that doesn't mean that everything I say or do is with that in mind."
Sylvia blushed at my admission and gnawed her lip.
"I would very much like to be your friend, counselor, mentor whatever you need. I won't promise that I won't look at you with undisguised lust from time to time but I would also like you be your chum. How does that sound?"
"Did you look at the knickers that I put on the radiator when you were in my room?" she asked with ludicrous irrelevance. "Are they the sort of thing that will enflame a man?"
"Of course I did, I'd be a pretty odd sort of bloke if I wasn't interested in your most intimate clothing. I would also look up your skirt if I had half a chance but it is quite normal for people to admire the opposite sex."
She looked at me incredulously.
"I still think you're full of it but point taken," she conceded with a smile after a pause. "Can we start again? Let me make you supper this evening."
That evening I headed up to Sylvia's room. On the way I grabbed a bottle of wine from my room as my contribution to supper.
Sylvia had heated up a can of vegetable soup which we ate with wholegrain bread rolls. For a time we didn't speak, being content to eat supper and enjoy some wine. I was still surprised at the vehemence of Sylvia's reacted and suspected that something in the past had caused her distress. I reasoned that perhaps she needed to face up to this and I decided to force her to confront matters.
"OK," I began, sitting back in my seat, "what happened to give you such a low opinion of men?"
"I don't know what you mean," she protested.
"Come on, credit me with some intelligence, the way you reacted was driven by some serious unhappiness, I think you need to tell me about it."
Sylvia sighed unhappily and sat silently gnawing her lip for several minutes. I guessed she was suffering and left her to make her mind up in her own time. Finally her, her face set with determination, she began.
"I wasn't exactly truthful when I told you that all the boys I went out with were only after my body. The truth is I've only ever gone out with one boy. I had known him all my life and I thought he was my friend. When we were fifteen he invited me to a disco in the village hall. I had never been taken to a dance before and it was so exciting. It was also his first dance and he drank too much. As the evening wore on he got drunker and drunker. We were dancing to a slow song when he started trying to grab my breasts. He got his hand inside my dress and squeezed my breast. I had never had anyone touch my naked body before and I pulled back in shock. His hand tore my dress and my breasts fell out. All the children who used to bully me at school were at the dance and they all saw my chest. They laughed at me!"