Let’s talk about sex, baby.
Actually, let’s not. If you don’t mind. I used to be a sex columnist, with a man in a pink suit who had once gone to the Philippines to have himself crucified, championed ‘working’ girls, and later died of a drug overdose. He hated me. I was more vanilla than a cream horn, and I found him, frankly, alarming. I’m not a sex goddess, a guru, or even a particularly active participant. I generally think that if I turn up, that should be enough of a turn on, and since I’m getting on a bit, and developing a fondness for granny pants and have just bought myself an electric blanket, I’m realistic enough to know that this may no longer be enough. I mean, I keep my hand in, but I’m certainly not match fit, or playing at competition level.
Despite having done it for a living, or what passes for a living on The Observer, I really am a bit squirmy about discussing sex, except in the most abstract of terms. It took me almost a decade longer than Austin Powers, to bring myself to say the word ‘shag’ and the working details of most people’s sex lives are something I’d rather not discuss. Especially in print. That I found myself doing it every week until the editor unwisely, but incredibly kindly, decided to post a question (most of which were made up by the staff) about anal sex on Easter Sunday, and the column was cancelled, is as much a mystery to me as to why anyone really wants to dabble in the practice in the first place. I mean, to each their own, bugger off in peace, I say, but it’s not something that features in my top ten fun things to do in bed. It doesn’t come anywhere near, say – eating toast, watching The Good Wife, clean sheets, or playing solitaire. I think that what two people do in the privacy of their own home is entirely up to them, and good luck with the sex swing guys. If you like wearing a ball gag, or a ball gown, what business is it of mine? Do I want to advise you what to do if the other half wants to go with him to a fetish club in Balham? Not really. Any anyway, isn’t the answer pretty straightforward – he’s your partner, talk to him about it. If you can’t clearly communicate your fears, anxieties, or he, his enthusiasm, then you shouldn’t be going to Tesco’s with him, let alone Madame Fifi’s Dungeon. My responses, interestingly, were usually much more permissive than Mr Pink Suit, albeit with a school marmish matter-of-factness, but I had to force myself, week after week, not to tell the fictional questioner ‘just say no’. I did say, ‘talk to each other’ with dreary regularity, but a) there was nobody for the person to talk to since the questions were made up and they didn’t exist and had they existed b) that’s why people write to newspaper columnists because they can’t talk to each other, I guess.
I’m not a sexpert. Not much of an expert on anything really. I’m a bodger and a maker up as I go alonger in most areas of my life. I don’t take my own advice so why should anyone else? It was therefore quite alarming to be asked whether I wanted to do it for the Daily Mail over 50 female readership, most of whom, I’m sure would just as soon have a massage and a kit-kat that beat their husband with a broom handle – well unless he promised to sweep the kitchen with it first. I’m not saying that women over fifty don’t like sex, or have sex, or are even interested in bonking, but I am saying, that I’m not the gal to steer them through the troubled waters of their sexcapades. I quite fancy my partner when he’s wearing his tool belt, but that has less to do with him being manly and sexy, than gratitude that he’s fixing something round the house.
In my brief sexually active years between the door slamming on the husband, and opening for the new partner, I discovered way too much about the middle aged man’s sexual proclivities – or rather – to be brutally honest – their lack of sexual proclivities, kinks, expectations, difficulties and fantasies – most prevalent of which was that they were younger than they were, better looking, could do a lot better than me, didn’t already have a wife at home, and- in one case – were not wearing nappies.
When I found a sane one who can’t lie or exaggerate even if you’re prompting him to (in cases such as your weight, your attractiveness, and lack of wrinkles), who was uncomplicated and could do it, I gave him a key. The tool belt was an unexpected bonus.
I didn’t want the job, but anyway, I didn't get the job as it turned out. Even with my love of a euphemism, my advice was too graphic for the old Daily Mail dears. As someone who would rather call a spade a digging implement, you should, from this, be able to surmise just how tame one has to be when discussing whether or not you should forgive Geoffrey his affair with the woman from the rotary club. I was supposed to concentrate on the emotions, not the mechanics, and ‘kick the old fart out and take half his pension’ wasn’t going to cut it. I don’t do sex, but I don’t do touchy feely very convincingly either.
So you’d think the paper would know that I wouldn’t be the right person to ask if she wanted to go on a ‘private’ Alphagasm workshop. Naturally, I don’t have Alphagasms, or probably even Betagasms, and however far I go down the Greek Alphabet is my business and not that of the Home Counties and the citizens of Greater Trollvania. I’m not complaining. I wasn’t keen, but when I read the article in the Sunday Times explaining the process, I choked on my camomile tea.
It’s all about the clitoris, which I have trouble saying even in my head and am not absolutely sure how you pronounce. I know the geography, but not the language. I can give direction and yell when the driver gets lost, but mention the word out loud. What’s wrong with lady parts and down below? The workshop involves, yes I did read it correctly, having a stroker. A real person who actually touches you, whose interests you don’t know or even whether he likes long walks on the beach, has a dog, and is a social drinker.
In what universe did an editor on the Daily Mail think anyone in their right mind would do this, let alone me? Another part of the workshop involved taking your pants off and having a man sit between your legs describing what he sees. For fucks sake, or rather absolutely no chance of a fuck’s sake. Don’t these people have hobbies? What’s wrong with a bit of macramé, or train spotting? I wouldn’t let my husband do this – let alone a stranger who might be better served spending their money on a woman who advertises in a phone book – and not just because he left me seven years ago. I have a hard time taking my pants off for a smear test – I’d probably given birth in my knickers if I could have. And I certainly don’t need anyone describing it me, like they’re taking a coach party through the alps.
I said no. But I’m still rather offended they asked.
I’m a matron, and proudly close-kneed about this sort of thing..