"Childhood is a time of innocence" used to be the old saying. Much or most of what I remember doing as a child was innocent enough, and although I don't particularly recollect having a schoolboy crush on any of my Junior school 'Miss-es' (or anyone else either) it certainly wouldn't have been looked upon as unusual - almost a rite of passage, you might say. Going to an all-boys secondary school with (until I was in my O-level year) all-male teachers effectively then ruled out crushes anyway. In fact we never knew anything much of what our teachers did in their private lives - even those whose own sons were at the school: it was regarded as bad etiquette to tittle-tattle or indulge in slanderous gossip. And in the days when "social networking" was decades into the future, when phones were things on the end of a wire fixed to the wall, and when "grooming" meant nothing more sinister than making yourself look presentable with the aid of a brush and comb, it was all pretty harmless anyway. The doodles on the cover of your exercise book and the names on the inside of your satchel or pencil-case weren't plastered all over Facebook and Twitter for all the world to see.
So I can't help feeling a little sorry for Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest, the story of whose 'crush' and subsequent 'elopement' to France has been plastered all over the papers this week. I make no judgement on the rights and wrongs of this, save to say that basically tradition has it that the guy always cops the blame, because whichever way you slice it, he's old enough and supposedly mature enough to know better. There is some probing and much apparent obfuscation over how much the school, the police and the parents knew beforehand about what had been going on, and what they were doing about it - the net result of which is probably going to make it more awkward for the star-struck lovers to return, if that in fact is what they eventually intended to do.
So far, almost a week after they were spotted on a cross-channel ferry to Calais, the couple seem to have disappeared without trace, although they could now be practically anywhere in Europe. I've seen it reported that the usage of CCTV and ANPR on the continent isn't anywhere near as extensive as it is the 'nosey' UK, and the fact is (a) they're not armed bank robbers being pursued by a manhunt and (b) no-one really knows where to start looking. In a way the romantic in me hopes it all works out for them, but the harsh reality of life is that it's far more probable to all end in tears. Compared to all the missing teenage runaways who disappear every day of the week without anyone much even bothering to start looking for them, 15-year old schoolgirl Megan has at least had a bit of a head start at being found.