Megan Stammers and her teacher.
Rarely a day goes by that I don't wonder why we bother making up stories. Perhaps it's because all the good ones are taken, by real life.
As anyone who lives in the UK, and possibly the world, knows by now, Megan Stammers is a 15-year-old schoolgirl who is currently at large in Europe with her 30-year-old married maths teacher. CCTV footage from the cross-channel ferry shows them with their arms around each other. She sent a text to a friend saying she'd arrived in France. And that's all anyone's heard. It's been five days.
Only now, some background information has emerged. It's possible that the liaison has been going on for months. It looks as if the pair may have run away due to an inquiry by the school, or possibly the police. The teacher got a large tattoo over the summer of a girl who looks very like Megan.
I can't get this story out of my head.
Partly because it fits my area of interest so well (unusual love stories are a bit of an obsession) and partly because I'm not quite willing to believe that this is the story of a craven paedophile out to ruin and desert an innocent young thing.
Even Humbert Humbert wasn't exactly a craven paedophile out to ruin and desert an innocent young thing.
It's the problem with "wrong love" -- though sometimes wrong wrong wrong for a variety of very sensible reasons, it isn't usually as cut and dried as the tabloids like to claim (though to be fair, even The Sun ran the huge headline HE WAS A NICE BLOKE this morning). The girl's parents are the source of the "Nice Bloke" quote, and the teacher's parents have said that "our son is one of the most gentle, caring people you will ever meet." They also called him "vulnerable".
It looks as if perhaps he really is a nice bloke -- one who has fallen madly deeply in love with a 15-year-old. He's probably a very immature bloke. Certainly a bloke without a sharp eye on what this will do to his future.
What's so sad about the story is that it doesn't appear as if he intended to do her any harm -- perhaps he felt (misguidedly) that love might, even in this case, conquer all.
It won't conquer all. And I have a very bad feeling about how it will end -- for him, at least.
Can't help feeling sad for him, for her, for their families.
And for the madness of love.