by Dave Cross
Chapter 1. The Newcomer
In which Pip's favourite chatroom has a new visitor
21:47 - [Magwitch has entered the chatroom] * Pip: hello magwitch * Magwitch: hello pip a/s/l? * Pip: 12/m/uk * Magwitch: i'm in the uk 2, where u? * Pip: in essex. clacton. it's a dump * Magwitch: i've been there. u're right that it's a dump. on the coast right? * Pip: that's the one * Magwitch: bad luck :-(
That's a pretty close rendition of the first conversation we had. I don't have the exact logs any more for reasons that will become abundantly clear. I'm pretty sure I told the truth about my age, sex and location as this was before the scare stories started appearing the the Daily Mail and my sister and Joe started banging on about not revealing those kinds of details to people I met in chatrooms.
Seems hard to believe, looking back, that there were such innocent times, but in the days soon after internet connections were first available in UK homes no-one was paying it much attention. The few of us who were online were pretty much free to do what we wanted on our painfully slow 28 Kb connections.
I suspect we were one of the first households in our area to get connected to the net. It wasn't very hard to persuade my sister to get us connected. She's pretty shrewd and I suspect she saw ways to make money out of it. So we got our internet connection and I got to sit at the computer for hours on end talking away to people from all over the world (or, rather, the USA) in the primitive chatrooms that existed back then. When I wasn't on the internet, I was talking about the internet. I'm sure I bored most people with my obsession. That's how I got my nickname - Pip. It's short for Philip 'Internet' Pirrip.
So that's how I met Magwitch for the first time. He just appeared out of the blue in one of my normal online haunts. It turned out that he was in London. Whilst that made him less farwaway and exotic than many of my other online friends it did mean that we'd seen the same TV shows and heard the same music, so we had a bit more in common than I did with someone from Missouri, or New York. And besides, London still sounded pretty exotic to a 12 year old from Essex. I might have only been 70 miles away, but I'd never been there and it seemed like a different world to me.
Over the next weeks we talked a lot. He told me that he was a couple of years older than me and we found that we had a lot of things in common. Both of his parents were still alive (unlike mine), but they were divorced so he understood the problems that a messed up family life could cause. He found it amusing that I'd been brought up by my sister and even more amusing that I had a sister who was twenty years older than me. Once he heard that he often called me "condom breaker" or "the little sperm who could". Like me he found that dealing with people in cyberspace (and it was him who first introduced me to that term) was far easier than the real world. He introduced me to the idea of web sites and when I discovered that our internet connection came with a small amount of free web space I quickly taught myself enough HTML to make my own. Magwitch had one too and each of us would hide subtle in-jokes on our site for the other to find.
He was very interested in sex. He liked to boast of his sexual exploits with girls that he knew. There seemed to be no end to the sexual adventures that a 14 year old schoolboy could experience in London. He was also interested in what I knew about sex and what experiences I had had. At the age of 12 my knowledge was minimal and my experience non-existant, but I kept up my part of the conversation by inventing all sorts of stories without ever once stopping to consider that Magwitch might be doing the same.
I was at the age when boys in my class started going through puberty and that fact seemed to hold a particular fascination for him. If I ever mentioned that I had been in a PE class then he would ask for graphic descriptions of my classmates bodies. After a while I started to prepare myself for these questions by taking more notice than was strictly necessary of what was going on around me in the changing rooms. It seemed important to be able to report back accurately to Magwitch. It was important enough that I didn't mind when a couple of my classmates took exception to my close observations of them and publically labelled me as gay. Two weeks later one of the largest (in all senses) boys in the class saw me watching him and beat me up on the way home from school.
Then one day I saw that puberty had finally found its way to me. My first thought was that I would now have something that I could report on to Magwitch without the danger of physical harm. I excitedly told him what was happening as soon as I got online that evening.
He asked me if I had a webcam.
Last Updated: Mon 03 Nov 2003, 23:06
All material © 2003, Dave Cross. All Rights Reserved.