More than that: Monique Boudier was a flamboyantly femme lesbian - never without her heels and lipstick - the partner of Julie Darby, my geography teacher, who was her tweed-suited and knitted-knee-socked opposite. I am baffled to this day about the messages sent out by the couples among our teaching staff (mine was an all-girls school) - certainly, their existence as couples was openly acknowledged, at least by us - but they seemed to have no connection whatsoever with the various sexual orientations of their girls. Ours was a rigorously hetero-normative environment: we were being groomed for a future as professional woman, yes, but always with the assumption that there would, somehow, be Men in the picture. Such things as crushes, as swapping bras with other girls (four of us crammed in one toilet cubicle? - not the most erotic of scenarios, in retrospect), as more serious relationships, were simply not Mentioned (beyond the fact that we weren't allowed to put arms round each other: "not natural"). Nor, I think, did it cross most of our minds that whatever these older couples got up to had anything whatsoever to do with sexual desire, as we understood it, nor were they ever objects of fantasy (I might have thought differently if the - apparently non-coupled - Miss Macdonald hadn't gone on leave with mono, shortly after getting me hooked on E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class).
One girl from the year above me - who's now a psychotherapist - published a fervent denunciation of the school's silencing of lesbianism in our old girls' magazine a few years back. But I think I see it with more sympathy: I don't know what the experiences of the staff couples had been, and what prejudices they'd faced; I don't know how far they thought they were trying to protect us, or, for that matter, their own jobs. But I do know that Monique Boudier taught me much more than French, although I didn't register it at the time: she offered up a wonderful feisty, non-sterotyped example of just getting on with being who one is - including following one's artistic drives as well as everything else - and that's as good a reason as any to keep this picture in my line of view.