Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Onesies and Daytime Clubbing

I'll confess. I've never been clubbing in the daytime. I've also never been to a music festival. My instinct is that if you do one, you probably do the other. But I'm old skool. When I used to go clubbing, and I use the term loosely, given that the majority of my 'clubbing' nights took place either in The Swan in Stockwell or The Arts Bar on Frith Street (both rather cheesy pulling joints with DJ's who would happily indulge my requests for Jackson Five on a regular basis and wouldn't dream of playing any house music, let alone all those other types of music that passed me by. Jungle?), it would be at nightime. After dark. There were probably a couple of occasions when it was light as I headed home, and boy did I think I was a crazy kid. Not.

Now, I was aware of daytime clubbing. People dealing with the hangover from Saturday night by getting back on it on Sunday day. I sort of respected it. But now I find myself baffled by it. Probably becuase I'm getting old. It's not the daytime misadventure itself that baffles me, it's the dressing up. Every Sunday as my man and I head on the bus to our favourite coffee shop, we pass The Grand in Clapham, and a large queue outside of mid 20 somethings, dressed primarily in leopard print onesies. What is going on??!! 

I've never quite got the fancy dress thing. I think because I was always acting, I got to dress up and play different people all the time, so why would I want to do that in my own social time? But then I have friends who are actors who bloody love fancy dress. Some who dress up in Edwardian gear, hire an old car for the day, and have Afternoon Tea as Edwardians. Again. Baffled. 

I fear my dislike of Fancy Dress is my inability to take the piss out of myself. But then, I'm not sure that is true, because I end up doing that during stand-up on a regular basis. But maybe it's an inability take the piss out of myself aesthetically..... Which brings us to the inevitable dilemma - do you do funny fancy dress, or sexy fancy dress? Now, my answer is always sexy, never funny. Be funny with your mind, your speech, not with your clothing. And maybe that's my problem with it all. There's a need, a desire to still look good, in whatever manifestation that takes. Maybe that's a bit messed up. Or maybe it's perfectly normal. Who knows.... And bizarrely it's paired with a willingness to look as ridiculous as possible on stage if it gets a bigger laugh. Cue me aged 26 and a size 18 wearing a leotard and a tutu, pretending to be a fairy forest creature, moving in slow motion, bizarrely in a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Not pretty. But highly entertaining slash disturbing. So I'm told.

There's something childlike about fancy dress. I'm not talking role play/dressing up in the bedroom - got no issue with that :-) But outside of that arena, fancy dress is still about playing. About an alteration of self. And, for my money, an infantalisation of self. And a onesie is the height of that. Which is where I get confused with the fancy dress daylight hours clubbing, becuase why, when you are out with your mates, probably on the pull, do you want to play dress up? If I was single right now, there is literally no way I would be joining in, and I can't imagine chatting to a guy dressed as a bear. Or with a fake pumpkin belly (Clap Jct last Sunday). Or in full Lederhosen. Call me boring, but I'd prefer a prospective male in a nice cable knit and some well fitting trousers. 

Now, obviously the clubbing isn't all about pulling. Some folks might be just out with their mates for a laugh and a dance. But since when was either of those activities enchanced by a onesie? Will Strictly Come Dancing forego the tanning booths, and just dress the contestants in orange fur? I think not.

I realise this is a bit of a Grumpy Old woman post. I would genuinely like to hear from people who love fancy dress, primarily onesies, and especially for a club on a Sunday afternoon. I'd like to get inside their heads and find out what it's all about. I wonder if I'm assuming it's going on up and down the country, and it's really only in Clapham Junction. I wonder if it's escapism from economic problems. I wonder if it's peer pressure. I wonder if it's hungover laziness.

But to me, wearing a onesie in public, socially, is just faux cool. People trying to demonstrate how chilled and sorted and down to earth they are, by showing how willing they are to look silly. I bet some of them are dying inside. As far as I'm concerned, the only times to wear a onesie, are:

- when you're a baby, and even then, you can claim it wasn't of your own volition when you get old enough to reflect back.
- at home, when you are subtly trying to convey to your partner that you have zero desire to get jiggy with them. Ever again.
- at home, when your partner has finally revealed both an animal and velcro/zip fetish, and you are trying to indulge them before you decide you want someone sane and dump them.

Now, where did I put my corset?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Age of Consent and Abuse of Power/Trust

I’ve found myself trying to write this week and failing. Primarily because what I want to write about is Jimmy Savile, but it feels like the world and his wife are blogging about it. And then I figured, hey ho, there’s just no avoiding it.

For me, there are two issues: Sex with underage girls and boys, and abuse of power/trust.

Savile’s alleged crimes aside (the BBC have just used the phrase ‘alleged’ – I assume it is legally correct, though it seems somewhat redundant now given the amount of people who have come forward), there has never been a greater need for a review of the law, has there? How can we put into the same bracket, for example, a 17yr old boy who sleeps with his 14yr old girlfriend, and a 40 something man who has sex with an 8yr old... And is the Age of Consent the best way to put it? Wikipedia, the fountain of all knowledge, defines Consent as:

“Consent refers to the provision of approval or agreement, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.”

I don’t know about you, but quite a few of my sexual encounters in my earlier days, definitely didn’t involve much thoughtful consideration, and I’m not even sure there was always agreement from the guy involved, more resignation J

Seriously though, a brief Google reveals that the Age of Consent varies from Puberty to 21+, or, more terrifyingly, for a lapsed Catholic such as myself, ‘only when married’. And in England, our legal age was 12 in 1275, which dropped down to 10 in the latter part of the 16th Century, and was only raised to 13 in 1875 because Parliament was concerned that girls were being sold into brothels. Well, that’s a reason to raise the age limit isn’t it. They then finally raised it to 16 in 1885, due to moral panic......

What does this tell us, apart from the fact that the Age of Consent didn’t even counter for Homosexuality for years? The Age of Consent is variable – morally and culturally. Other countries allow for the maturity of the persons involved, they treat cases very differently if the age gap is small. In the UK, that 17yr old boy who sleeps with his 14yr old girlfriend, will go on the Sex Offenders Register – legally treated the same as the 40yr old man who rapes the 8yr old girl. It is inconceivable that in a society such as ours, that considers ourselves so forward thinking, that we are so, so backward in this respect.

Now, the tricky thing when watching the Savile expose, is women talking about being abused when they were 14 or 15. When I was at school, there were plenty of girls who were sexually active, and mature for their age. Had they found themselves at the BBC, or similar, hanging out with a boy band or a popular DJ, who suggested something sexual, I’d be willing to bet money that some of them would have gone there.

Which leads us to the Abuse of Power, or as it legally known, the Abuse of Trust. When the older person is in a position of trust or responsibility, be that a teacher, a celebrity, a policeman, a priest... then they have a responsibility to act appropriately. Don’t they? But are our expectations too high? There are abuses of power in all walks of life – from the small everyday incidences such as the Nazi bus driver who relishes his ability to drive on past the poor commuter who has just pegged it to the bus stop a second too late, to the larger abuses of power such as the Editors who approved phone hacking, or the MP’s who flouted all moral rules, if not legal ones, when putting  in their expenses. I realise those examples aren’t as direct as physical and emotional contact, but they show that it is embedded, if not, inherent.

It takes a grounded, self-aware, and empathetic individual to be totally unswayed by power or celebrity. It starts young, from the bully in the playground who gets to deal with their own insecurities by picking on others, to the workplace where the boss gets to make lascivious comments or cop a feel, and I’m not just talking male bosses here.

So isn’t it about time, we take a step back and look at ourselves, and the society that we’ve created? Rape has been high on the agenda over the past month or so, and a commentator this week, post Jimmy Savile revelations, queried whether we could still deny we live in a rape culture. I don’t think we can. I think the equally pressing point, is that we live in a Celebrity Culture. We put people on pedestals, regardless of their failings, or more pertinently, their lack of talent. And if we do that, if we continue to buy into some sort of fairytale stereotypes, then surely we are as much to blame? Or are we? Maybe we are just another victim – we are charmed by the very people who are powerful and famous, even though we put them up there.

Which leaves me with a couple of questions. How do we acknowledge what  I think is an inherent need to classify by differentiation, which in turn creates a need for status, and at the same time be better human beings? I think it would require an entire cultural and moral shift – that status becomes about respect, about doing good things (ah wait a minute, that’s what Savile did on the surface, didn’t he?), not about fame, or money, or power. And how do we put proper, just, systems in place, that hold people to account, but that allow for the differentiations of crime, rather than just lumping them all in one a la the Sex Offenders Register? I fear that it isn’t all possible. People are fallible. Laws are fallible. And Society as a whole is fallible.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Woman. Know Thyself. Own Thyself.

Over the course of this year, I’ve realised there are a few things I didn’t know, or didn’t think about, that I really should have done. Things about me – the woman. Womanly things.  A few visits to a Nutritionist/Naturopath, a brilliantly funny and little older lady who works as a Gynaecologist (more of her later), and some chats to friends, revealed them all:

2.  By default, that means your eggs are as old as you are – and unlike a fine wine, their quality reduces rapidly with age...

3.  Sperm can live for seven days if they manage to reach the cervical tissue. Gives Purgatory a whole new meaning...  To be fair, I’m sure we must have been taught this at school and I’ve just forgotten.

4.  You can actually work out your own cycle. WHO KNEW? NO ONE TAUGHT ME THAT AT SCHOOL.

Now, I remember bits from biology class. Such as when my friend and I were talking at the back of the class, and the teacher asked me a question. My mate prompted the answer “Compound Eyes” (we vaguely knew the class was about locusts), and I went with it. Cue detention and a move to the front of the class. And I remember the Personal Development class where the nurse put a condom on a banana, and the more forward girls (I clarify, the girls who made out they were forward and later admitted they hadn’t actually lost their virginity until they were 18, rather than aged 14 on a golf course in the bunker as they suggested at the time) took the free condoms.

I don’t remember being told about how a woman’s body changed. How you could work out when you were ovulating. That I only had a certain number of eggs to last me my whole lifetime. That my eggs would age with me. That there are other alternatives to the pill – other alternatives to taking synthetic hormones for most of your life. Being taught how to exercise my pelvic floor – why aren’t we taught that at school? Surely way more important than being able to hit a hockey ball?

Why isn’t this the stuff we learn on the curriculum? Well, probably because the curriculum has to cater to all, and boys probably don’t want to learn that stuff (though they clearly should), and perhaps even girls aren’t really all that interested at that age. The feminist in me might suggest that it’s also because the curriculum is possibly (I’m guessing, I have no idea) designated by committees and at a higher level, government/civil service, which are probably male dominated.

But, I think the other problem is that we tend to be, as we would, fairly Western in this country. Alternative options, the slightly left field, more ‘hippy’ options, aren’t to be found in the mainstream. Now, don’t get me wrong. Synthetic hormone pill popping is better than unwanted teenage pregnancies for sure. Going down alternative routes takes practice, care and attention. But I recall going on the pill as a teenager because a)  I thought it would help with my spots, and b) It seemed like the cool thing to do, despite the fact that I had no intention of having sex with anyone ( I was a late starter. I know. Shocking). And I’m not sure those are good enough reasons.

We live in an age where women (and men, let’s not forget them..) like being able to control or stop their periods for years, and then often expect everything will be fine when they completely change tack once they’re ready to start trying for a baby. And having had friends who have tried and failed, and those who have tried and had success, I know it can be a long old road. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have all those options available to us. And certainly a pill that is 98% effective means you don’t really have to think about it. Which is handy when you have a million other things going on.

But I wonder what the fall out is. Hormones are sensitive things. I know – I tried out a pill earlier in the year for a couple of months (I’m not a big lover of condoms – who is?) and it made me MENTAL. I actually didn’t feel in control of myself at all, and for the week before my period came I was an emotional wreck. Now, there are plenty of women who have been on pills happily for years, with no adverse effects, so my experience is but one. Pills have never suited me – they’ve always made me slightly crazy... I remember being on Microgynon at University and being horny as hell the week before a period. I think my boyfriend at the time thought I was either going insane or a sex addict. Or that he was irresistible. Looking back, none were true. But I would be climbing the walls. And a spell on Dianette a few years ago (often prescribed for PCOS) didn’t suit me much better. The nutritionist/naturopath I see (a smart woman – treats lots of conditions but good for PCOS and helping women who want to improve fertility),  commented that when she once tried a pill in her early years, it made her so objectionable that no man wanted to come near her – so it worked perfectly as a contraceptive even at a distance.

Anyhow, I’ll stop with my pill rant. I guess my point is, that we aren’t really taught enough about our own bodies. At school, in the press, by doctors... And information from mums or female relatives relies on their experiences. I think it should be shouted from the rooftops. If we want to be free women, then to me, that means knowledge. Information. Free and informed choices. And it also involves ownership. Taking real responsibility for your body, and respecting it. Respecting how it works, how it changes, how it compensates. So when the time comes when you want to think about having sex, not having children, and then having children, you already know what the deal is, and you’ve already properly thought about your options.

The Gynaecologist I mentioned is Dr Shirley Bond. She does honey coated caps. So if you want to go down the natural contraception route, she’s worth a look. I’ll be honest, the cap is reasonably large. It’s not like you, or your man, won’t feel it. It’s also pink. His face when I got it out, was quite a picture. I also got chronic thrush after we used it the first time, though I’m not entirely convinced that was related. But you can use it in tandem with condoms, or on its own. And you get to store it in a pot of honey, which is highly entertaining. Not as entertaining as trying to put it in when your fingers are covered in honey, or as entertaining as when a residing house guest spots it.... Toast anyone?

Gem x

Friday, 28 September 2012

What's with the lack of penetration?

A dear friend of mine has recently posted a couple of blogs - they are intelligent, feisty and well thoughts out - worth a read if you have a mo. 

They got me thinking back to a joke I used in my show Get Laid or Die Trying, which went along the lines of "what I really can't stand are those women who take guys home and then don't have sex with them. They're giving the rest of us a really bad name."

It was a joke admittedly, but it's a point I've argued time and time again. How is penetration more intimate than oral sex? Why get into bed with someone and do everything but penetration? Obviously, not all sex involves penetration, and there are times when it's not feasible - periods, lack of condoms, you haven't had a shower. I'm kidding. Or just when you want some variety.

But what I'm talking about it, is going home with someone and then witholding the penetration, or even in some cases, the removal of pants. If you speak to those who do it, they will say it's about waiting, or that they only do "that" once they're serious. Some don't offer any explanation. I once took a man home, more than once, who my friends and I named Strokey. He liked to stroke, he'd bring me to orgasm, but he wouldn't take off his pants or let me touch down there. Baffling. We even made up a song:

'Strokey, Strokey... Didn't want no Pokey, Pokey". I won't subject you to the verses...

I've had plenty of male friends of mine talk about getting a woman home, whose behaviour up until the point when they were on the sofa back at hers, had lead them to think they were in for a long night of supreme shagging. Only for them to discover said woman would steadfastly refuse to take off her pants, though she would give them a handjob or a blowjob....

Call me old fashioned, but isn't it all rather high school? And conversely, isn't it rather anti-feminist? Why do the boys get all the fun, whilst the women don't get to get off? In secondary school the boys were getting blowjobs and the girls the odd finger, but primarily, the sexual activity was centred around the males. Shouldn't we have progressed by the time we hit adulthood?

I genuinely don't understand the point in taking someone into bed and then not going the whole hog out of a sense of preserving chastity, or for religious beliefs - I really don't see how those hold up if you're going to do everything bar penetration. 

I guess I'm a bit all or nothing. I also think I would have probably lacked the willpower to keep my underwear on, even if I had set out intending to do so.

But at a more serious level, I think there's also an element of women being a little more transparent and up front about their intentions. Of course, we've all had nights when we might have changed our mind on the route home, or even when we've got home. I'm not suggesting that a woman has an obligation to have sex with a guy at any stage of the courtship process - be it 15mins in, or 15 weeks in.

What I am suggesting, is that as women, we have a responsibility to ourselves to treat others as we wish to be treated. To be adult - with the ownership that that brings. Say if you like someone, say if you don't, say if you just want sex, say if you want something more. It's terrifying, and you will get knocked back some of the time, but there is something liberating in being transparent about it all. Don't spend all evening flirting with someone you've got no real interest in - it's a waste of their time and yours, and it suggests that you're really just using that situation for your own issues.

Similarly, if you like someone and you want to have sex with them, then do it. Don't embark on some mission to get them to earn the right to penetrate you, whilst letting them go down on you. It's a mixed message and it doesn't really ring true. Pun intended. If you want to hold out, hold out fully, and for the right reasons and explain why, should the conversation arise. I could be wrong, but I think they'll respect that more.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The age old age-gap....

My boyfriend is 13 years older than me. Apart from the odd music or film reference that goes over my head, the age gap is utterly inconsequential. And I think I was always going to end up with someone older: Aged 8, I played Marta in The Sound of Music. All the other girls fancied Frederick. I fancied Captain Von Trapp. Aged 10 I played Annie, and yes, you guessed it, I fancied Daddy Warbucks. I still remember his name - Colin Marsh. How many nights I spent thinking Colin and I would get married.....

I had a thing for Dr Finlay on TV, and for Martin Shaw, not in re-runs from the 70's, but as The Chief -  1990's cop drama where Mr Shaw was probably late 40's/early 50's, sporting some salt 'n' pepper grey. Then there was Harold Pinter aged 70 (admittedly I wouldn't have wanted to get naked with him, but boy was he charismatic on stage), Ciaran Hinds (on the hit list since an early re-make of Jane Eyre with Samantha Morton), Clooney obviously, and Alan Rickman, in whose presence I became a quivering wreck. I could go on!

If you had shown me any of those men in their 20's/30's, I probably wouldn't have looked twice. Now, you might say it's a father complex, a la Freud, and you might be right. I'm not really sure how you prove or disprove that.

Now, the question I have is, is this inbuilt? Was I always going to fancy older men? Is it a father complex, or more pertintently, is it social conditioning to some degree? Obviously all women don't end up with men that are older. Or certainly not in their first marriage...... And thus it begins. Because men don't necessarily age better than women. We just think they do. We are told they do. And I think that becomes self-perpetuating, as you see women get older (I'm talking 60's upwards), and quite a few of them become more anxious, busier, whilst the men seem to get quieter and slow down. I can only talk of the people I know, who to be fair, are mostly related to me, so it could be the genes. But for the most part, the guys seem more and more rooted as they get older, and the women seem less so. They seem more nervous. Less confident.

Now, that is probably just old age manifesting itself differently in the sexes... But I wonder at a younger level, a la 40's upwards, whether those differences kick in... and whether they are innate, or whether they are the result of where society's attitudes are at...  I think there are probably very few men in their middle age worrying that their wives are going to leave them for younger men. But I reckon there are plenty of middle aged women panicking that their husbands will leave them for some young thing. That is the 'norm' that is played out in the media. Who knows what the reality is? I'd love it if in fact the statistics showed that more women are heading off to toyboys than the other way around!

I'm sure there will be women who will clamour that they get more confident as the years go by, and I totally agree with this. I just see that diminishing when they hit pension age. And I hope that for my generation, that changes.

But, to return to the age gap. We live in a world where Trevor Eve gets to shag a woman younger than his daughter on BBC1. Ditto Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, probably Tom Cruise in a few years. Unless he gets to shag a man young enough to be his son, and that would be a turn up for the books..... And it's not just the dramas and the movies - TV and News presenters follow a similar pattern - the man is usually a good 10yrs older than the woman.

So, in such a world, where the media perpetuates the age gaps, representative or not, is there not some irony in the hubbub that is the reporting on 15yr old Megan Stammers and her 30yr old Maths teacher?

I'm not saying it's right - at 15yrs, she maybe mature for her age, she may know her own mind, but she isn't an adult, not really. I don't think I hit what I would define as proper adulthood until my mid 20's. So although she thinks she knows what she is doing, she probably doesn't. And he, at 30yrs, one would hope, should know better. I also think the police are worried for her safety, given the parental appeals, so I really do hope that he isn't a nutter, that she is safe and well, and that they have the presence of mind to return home to families and friends that are worried about them.

But, a 15yr age gap further down the line would be neither here nor there. And in less than 12 months, she will be 16yrs, legal to all intents and purposes. There has to a line drawn somewhere, but given that we consider age to be so arbitrary as time goes on, is there not a little hypocrisy in an outcry that probably wouldn't make the news if she was 16?

We can't have it both ways - we can't glamourise older men with significantly younger women, and then not be willing to deal with the consequences. I'm not saying that those media stereotypes provoke age gap relationships, but I'm saying that the reportage and repetition of those stereotypes has its effects. The more we see it, the more normal it becomes. And I'm not saying that it's not normal :-) I think it's fairly common! Age is a number - we accept that; we judge individuals on their maturity, their behaviour, their sense of responsibility. And I guess that's the point with Megan and her older lover - it's not really to do with how old they are, it's more to do with the fact that they ran away, which is possibly the most immature thing either party could do. 

And sometimes an age gap can be problematic. Like last night when my boyfriend was tired and wanted to go to bed, and I was wide awake. He said I should stay up. My response: 'But I'll have no one to play with"! Tongue in cheek, but you get my drift :-)

Holiday Hiatus

Apologies for the lack of posts... We were on holidays. In Santorini. It was beautiful. So beautiful that I didn't do any writing whilst I was there, and have had holiday blues since we returned ;-) 

So, normal service about to resume. In the interim, should you wish to visit the most gorgeous place on earth, here is a link to the hotel - The Grace, Santorini.

Love Gem x

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Bad Boys and Crazy Women

Last night we watched the first part of Mrs Biggs. A woman with an oppressive father, falls for a man who turns out to be living with another woman, has been in prison twice, and gets her to steal from her job within a matter of days, so that they can run away together. And despite the rather wonderful cast, I was slightly baffled as to why she would stay with him. Especially when they were being chased by dogs and policeman and she had to take her heels off...

But then, I'm a bit older and wiser. Which isn't to say that I've previously been out with petty criminals. Well, not to my knowledge. But I think we spend a good few years lusting after or dating, bad boys, or to widen the scope slightly, inappropriate men.... And similarly, a large percentage of men spend a significant amount of time craving crazy women - inappropriate women.

So why is that? I think most obviously, it's an unrecognised fear of settling down. At a basic level, if you continue to fall for people that aren't interested in you, you get to bathe in the melancholy of unrequited love, which, although an unhappy place to be, is also a fairly safe place to be. You know the deal, you've already set the perameters from the off. You won't be disappointed, because your desires and hopes are already dashed. So you get to think that you're pursuing a healthy relationship, that you're ready to settle down, it's just that you're unlucky.

And therein lies self-delusion. You're not unlucky. You're just picking the wrong ones because you're not ready for the right one. Basic, but true. But what happens if you end up sleeping with, or getting into a relationship with a wrong'un..? What if there is reciprocal love with someone who is patently not right for you?

There it becomes a little more complex. Because then you can convince yourself that you really are engaging with love, in a committed way. When realistically, you're probably still just avoiding it, but with the outward appearance of all being well. There is far too much literature, music and film dwelling on unrequited love, on relationships which are doomed from the beginning, but somehow suggest that because there is so much pain involved, it must be the real thing - true love. A couple of friends who shall remain nameless, were in and out of a relationship for over a year - they constantly fell out, he even dealt the Ross 'we were on a break' card, having slept with someone else on some downtime. It was all very Burton and Taylor, and I think they would readily admit, looking back, that they liked that - it felt epic, dramatic, true. And yet, it really wasn't. Then she got together with another friend, and it was like they had just fallen together. There was no drama; they just got along, they were happy, they fancied each other. There was a calmness to it. And it was like watching the lights on a dimmer go up little by little - that that was actual love - that was what it was really about. And yes, I'm sure they have their ups and downs, but their relationship is solid.

Now, I know every relationship is different. But I think the universality, is that we have to fall for a few that are wrong for us, before we find the right one. And that's not just to do with not being ready to settle down. I think it's also tied in with self-avoidance. If you fancy someone who's tricky, if you're involved with someone who is difficult, then you get to focus on them, their issues. And you don't have to look at yours. I have many male friends who have dated a string of mental, high maintenance women, and I think that's the equivalent of us women going for the bad boys. So maybe us finding the right person is also about us having sorted out our shit a little bit. Yes, there are the lucky few that meet young, and somehow manage to grow and develop alongside that person, and find that the person they married in their early twenties, is still the person they want to be with in the sixties. But I think those incidences are pretty rare.

I can only speak from my experience - pretty substantial on the whole 'fancying the men who don't fancy you' front, much less substantial on the committed relationship front. But, without reverting back to the literature/movie cliches I attacked above, there was a sense, on that first date, that he was right for me. Admittedly, I did go home and complain to my flatmate that he hadn't made a move at the bus-stop, had I lost my touch, yada yada. Swiftly alleviated by a text and subsequent dates. And although I spent a fair amount of time downplaying it to my friends, in a 'we'll see what happens' sort of a way, somehow, I felt deep down that we fitted, that he would be important. There was no drama, well, other than me on stage doing my comedy routine about boobs, which, given that he is a boob man, I think sold it.

And who knows that the future holds. Hopefully, we'll still be mimicking each other and attempting rugby tackles (on each other, not on strangers, unless we go senile) into our old age. And given that it's all fairly new, I'm not putting myself forward as 'all knowing' in any sense. But if you're reading this and you're still finding yourself dating nutters, or lusting after the one who just isn't interested, maybe take a step back and assess. I think I spent 2 or 3 years thinking I was ready and wanting a relationship, and with hindsight, I was neither.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A night in a hotel.....

On Bank Holiday Monday we spent the night at the Hoxton Hotel. Decadent, given that we live in London. To be fair, it was on offer, and we'd (well, I say we, probably more I), had always quite fancied staying there.

I could wax lyrical for the entire blog about what I love at that place (pretty much everything); the only thing I'd change being the standard double bed. As we are used to a super-king, neither of us got much sleep. Hey ho. Is a night in a hotel really about the sleep??

I recently read Alain de Botton's 'How to think more about sex'. As you might be aware from previous posts, I don't really have an issue thinking about sex often. But I'm always up for reading current thoughts on the matter ;-)

He mentions that couples in long term relationships  can sometimes liven things up with a night in a hotel. To be fair, he does also go on to talk about couples introducing a 3rd person  to the relationship, so I'm not convinced about all of it....

I should point out at at this stage of the game, that I'd booked the room before I read the book. Travel magazines are my porn. I have a pile of Conde Nast magazines that are taller than a little person.

But a change of location, however small (SW11 to EC2A), can have a profound effect. Putting aside the padded headboard, a chaise in the room at a very condusive height, and the possibilities of a free afternoon, something happened, and it must be primarily the change of environment. 

We ended up having conversations we'd never had before, revealing things that the other didn't know. We laughed, we explored, we took some photos in the photo booth...  but we also shared and listened in a way that we don't often get time to do in the average week.

And maybe that's just about timing, though I doubt it. I think it's more to do with a break of routine, setting aside time to do something and out of the ordinary, in a different location, and seeing were that takes you.

So go on, check into a hotel for the night. See what happense. Let me know.... x

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Obesity - What's it really about?

Yesterday's figures show that the NHS spent £91.5million on Obesity last year, and Gastric Bypass Operations have increased 530% in five years. As usual, much of the news seems at some point or another to feature deeply unflattering pictures of obese people walking about, or holding chips etc etc. You get my drift.

I’ve always been slightly baffled by the way we deal with weight. I read a book some years ago (& annoyingly can't now find it), in which the Author suggested that our dislike of fat, our desire to be thin, comes from a deep seated and modern western Guilt about having so much. In the old days, plumpness was a sign of health and wealth - take a look at Ingres - our definition of beauty in those days was voluptuous, overfed, large milky breasts, as my boyfriend might say.


Now, I’m not going to argue that being overweight is healthier than being underweight, or that obesity isn’t really as much of an issue as people make out. But I do think that our attitudes need to change.

I’ve been overweight most of my life, bar a couple of extreme diets at various points in my twenties, and even then, I didn’t manage to get down sufficiently to fit into the ‘Normal’ weight category. At one point I dropped nearly 3 stone, and for a while, I loved that body, I loved being able to walk into a high street store and get anything I wanted, I loved being healthy. But it didn’t really feel like me. And slowly but surely the weight crept back on.

I’m relatively happy the way I am, but from a health perspective, I’d like to be smaller. I still have a desire for chocolate on a daily basis, but I’d say that in the last couple of years, since I vowed not to diet anymore, my eating patterns have improved hugely. It’s a slow process. I’ve learnt to accept I’m never going to be a size 8. Despite a relatively healthy diet (and I use that word in the proper sense, rather than the Weight Watchers/Slimming World/Atkins/Lighter life sense), which is now primarily gluten free (unless I’m out and then I might indulge in the bread basket), I haven’t really lost any weight. Apart from about half a stone when the gluten free began. Which has stayed off. I also don’t really do much exercise, apart from walking whenever I can. So I have to acknowledge the fact that my body is such, that if I want to significantly lose weight, I am going to have to portion watch more carefully, and up the exercise. Such is life. We can’t all be Kate Moss. 

But what I do now isn’t really the issue. The weight piled on in my teens and early twenties. I think my attitude to food wasn’t great during that time, and my eating was probably both hormonal and emotional. If I look back honesty, I think food was a way of regulating emotions. You don’t realise it at the time, but thinking back, that’s what it did. It was a coping mechanism for my everyday life - and my life wasn’t too bad!

Now, here’s the crux. We all have a coping mechanism. For some it’s an abundance of exercise, and those endorphins become addictive. For some it’s restricting their food, and the sense of control becomes addictive. Some drink. Some take drugs. Some are OCD. Some watch movies obsessively. Some have sex obsessively. None of us are perfect. Everyone has their thing. Which is why I find our reporting, and our attitudes in general (and I’m not lumping everyone in with this) to obesity, somewhat disappointing, archaic, and frankly, dishonest. And why I find the increase in Gastric Bypasses terrifying.

I know a girl who had a Gastric band. She saved up and had it done privately. Every so often she has to go back and get the band loosened or tightened up - every time she has to pay for that. And the counselling was negligible. I’m not convinced she’s much happier than she was before. And her weight still fluctuates. Yes she’s smaller, so I guess in terms of long term health, that’s better for her. But to me, it’s a marketing con. A way to make money out of vulnerable people. And it doesn’t address the issue. Which is psychological.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have conditions which make it easier for them to put on weight, harder for them to lose it, there’s also some genetics thrown in there for good measure. But I’d hazard a guess that for the majority, their weight issues aren’t weight issues, or certainly weren’t to begin with. For whatever reason, that particular person sought to deal with their stresses, their unhappiness, their disappointments, in some cases their abuse, be it emotional or physical, with food. Some limit their intake, some eat to excess. But the initial drivers are surely the same? 

So, let’s please stop with the attacks. The ridiculous ‘They should just eat less’. Of course they should. Don’t you think that they know that? But they may have been using food as a coping mechanism for years. And you know what, it’s the hardest addiction to have, because we need food to survive in a way that we don’t need alcohol, or drugs, or cigarettes. So you try kicking something that deep rooted, that’s needed for survival, but is also your addiction. And it’s just as hard for bulimics or anorexics. 

But we aren’t quite so harsh with Anorexia or Bulimia are we? Because they are thin. And thin is desirable. And fat means you have no control. And we don’t like that either. We like people to be in control of themselves. But I’d suggest that fat does mean control - the food is controlling the problems. Just in a different way.

At some point, we need to start spending the money on counselling, on educating, on making healthy food as cheap as convenience food. And it needs to start from a young age. Toby Young tweeted a while back that he thought it was insane that a government committee had suggested we teach kids self-esteem in school, and that that should be taught at home, innately learnt from parents. I thought that was fascinating. Given that self-esteem is so clearly tied up with our early years, and most notably, our relationship with siblings and with parents. And those parents have their own issues - a mother’s relationship with food especially is one that deeply affects the child’s. Or certainly did in my case. Parents often reward kids with food - when they do well at something, when they’ve tidied their room, or to get them to behave. It’s a habit you see in supermarkets every day. And it’s destructive, but perhaps symptomatic of a busy and stressful world. So, let’s educate our children, let’s help them, let’s give them self-esteem lessons. We teach them how to protect against STI’s, and how to work out Pythagoras, but the basic personal development skills aren’t important?? Really? 

We need to learn how to treat ourselves better, how to be kinder to ourselves and to others who are struggling, and check ourselves next time we look with scorn on someone significantly over or underweight. Because they’ve just chosen a different way to deal with the problems that we all have, and theirs are just more obvious. Now, to lunch.....

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Friendship: Changeable, Reciprocal, Transactional? Debatable...

I’ve read a slew of articles over the past year or so, with women fessing up about how they’ve lost friendships because they started earning more money than their best mate or vice versa, or how they were ‘dumped’ by a friend, or they’ve done the dumping. Wikipedia defines Friendship as a ‘relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other’. It then goes on to say that the value of friendship is often the result of friends consistently demonstrating the following:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
  • Enjoyment of each other's company
  • Trust in one another
  • Positive reciprocity — equal give-and-take between the two parties
  • The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement

Now, a brief look at the above makes me think that to do all of those things is a pretty tall order. How many times do we tell white lies to our friends? How often could we say that’s there is equal give and take? How many friends do we have who we know won’t judge us at all, and vice versa?

Our behaviour and our attitudes change as we do – for example – aren’t we more likely to judge a friend in a deteriorating relationship who has cheated on their partner, if we’ve been cheated on? How do a couple who are struggling to conceive deal with their friends getting pregnant – how overjoyed can they get, or pretend to get, when they so desperately want what their friends have? And similarly, how awkward do the couple who are pregnant feel around those friends – how does that impact on the friendships...Trust changes – if you tell a secret to a single friend, that’s different to telling a secret to an attached one – the latter inevitably means that 2 people know, not just your best bud. Which isn’t to say that the single friend might not at some point share your story. And positive reciprocity is a tough one – equal give and take – how does that work when one earns ten times what the other earns. It’s not all about money obviously – it’s about caring, time spent, thoughtfulness, showing up etc etc, but how do those friendships navigate socializing, birthdays and Christmas when the financial disparity is so great?

Friendships ebb and flow. It’s taken me a good few years to learn that. And we have friends for different reasons, for different occasions, for different periods of our lives. We have friends we call when we want them to agree, and friends we call who we know won’t agree, will tell us the harsh truth and challenge us like we need to be challenged. We all have mates who are always late, or always unreliable, or who always cancel, or who never pick up the phone and always wait for us to contact them. And we probably do all of those things ourselves with certain friends, even though we’d hate to admit it. Especially at the moment that someone’s done it to us.

I think as you get older, you learn to accept people the way they are – or you let them go. Because they’re unlikely to change, and the dynamics of the friendship are unlikely to change. Expecting the friend who always waits for you to organise everything to suddenly start planning evenings out, is like expecting the fuckbuddy to turn around and propose marriage. It’s rare that the nature of the friendship changes to that great an extent. Unless something dramatic happens in one or either life. And it’s especially rare that the dynamics within a group of friends changes, particularly those which are longstanding. Everyone has their place, their status within the group – so the one who got picked on at school, will remain the butt of jokes in adulthood, because those people need those relationships to stay as they are – they are part of what makes us who we are. Shatter those, and what becomes of us....?

The loss of friendship can be huge. Sometimes it’s mutual – a gradual growing apart, where both parties both think well of the other, check their Facebook page every once in a while and wish them Happy Birthday. If you bumped into them in the street, you’d probably go for a cuppa, catch up, and then not see them again for years. But some aren’t mutual – they can be messy, painful, awkward and more. I’ve let a few friendships go in my time – if someone has consistently behaved badly, or broken trust, then I’ve sadly found myself withdrawing. Often because initially it hurts, and after that, you just think that you don’t really want that person to be a part of your life anymore. But on the other side, I’ve lost a couple of friends and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve probably said or done something I shouldn’t, or just generally been irritating or too outspoken, and that person has withdrawn. And as years go by, it feels like it’s far too late to ask why, to understand, to apologise. And pointless. Because they’ve made their decision, and there’s really very little you can do about it. Which is fine if you’re not really in touch anymore, less easy if they’re still in your social circle. But you get on with it - aware you’ve probably fucked up, or been misunderstood. Either way, it’s done. And there’s someone out there wondering the same about why you’re no longer close to them.

But I’m also a believer that as you get older and life changes you, that some of those friendships that have been lost, or aren’t as close, may yet evolve. And even when you think you don’t have enough time in the day, new people come into your life and become great friends – there’s always room for another.

Finally, what started me writing about Friendship today, was a Facebook rant from an acquaintance of mine, who updated his status saying that he had had it with Friends who were using him, who took freebies off him, that he was all out of money and freebies, so not to contact him unless they wanted to give him something back. He was clearly aggravated (and has since removed the post), but it sort of amused me. Because there was this idea that friendship is transactional. Less about give and take, and more about ‘I’ve given you x amount in the last year, so I’d like x amount back’. I also instinctively think that what often annoys us about people is stuff that we maybe recognise in ourselves a bit..... But it’s funny, because the idea that Friendship is ever truly even is just bonkers. The best you can do is nurture the friendships that you want to keep, because they do take work. And accept that it’s never going to be truly reciprocal, but it should all even out in the wash. And if it doesn’t, it’s your choice to keep that person in your life and accept them as they are.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Personal Admin - the pursuit of Good Customer Service...

I spend a couple of days a week working as a private PA, as well as having some ad hoc clients. It pays the bills alongside the comedy and the writing, I rather enjoy it, and you get to sit in someone’s house, rather than in an office. People often ask what I do, and my usual answer is “all the personal admin we never get time to do, myself included”. Everything from Meter readings, filing emails, paying bills, sussing out if you could get your Utilities cheaper, to the more fun tasks – organising Christmas presents and cards, researching travel, planning parties, shopping. It’s varied, you have to learn how someone works and then try and fit your methods (which you know work) into their routine – making their life as smooth as possible.

And yet, I rarely get or take the time to sort my shit out. I’m much better than I used to be, and my email inbox is another beast – anything more than a page and I start to stress out – everything is in folders, there’s even one for the boyfriend. But the dressing table in the bedroom is a 50/50 split of cosmetics and paperwork. I then bought 3 stand-up magazine files to put my filing in – the idea being that one was urgent, one was comedy/writing, and one was for filing. They’re all now mixed up. And that’s before we’ve even got to the other piles dotted around the flat. I don’t know quite why I love sorting out someone else’s stuff, and so rarely sort out my own. Maybe paperless is the way to go. In a burn it and regret it later sort of way.......

I think the main reason we put this sort of admin off, is that it takes FOREVER. There are the odd occasions when it’s your fault – you can’t find any paperwork because you’ve probably thrown it out in a fit of pique, and you definitely can’t remember the password from 1999. Then you remember it’s your dead dog’s name, your ex’s name, or worse, a holiday from years ago that you could never afford today. Then you’re not only frustrated but depressed ;-)

But it’s not always our fault. There’s a startling lack of competence in so many companies, that it sometimes beggars belief.  Having worked in Retail in my time, both on the shop floor and in Head Office, my aim was always to be as helpful as possible, to offer the best Customer Service and Brand Experience possible, because, really, that’s my job. And whilst there are companies offering amazing service – Net a Porter, Luigi’s Deli, LRB to name a recent few, there are some shockers. And I’m afraid, that in my old(er) age,  I find myself adapting a Grumpy Old Women state and complaining every time. Because I’m sick of shoddy service.

My O2 broadband is finally back to normal having been moving at a snail’s pace – 0.25Mbps to be exact (it should be 6.0) for what feels like eternity. About a month ago they emailed to say I’d reached my limit (I know, who still gets Broadband with a limit), and they would be slowing my speed down until the next bill. So, I upgraded – no more limit, speed cap to be reduced. Except, the speed cap wasn't removed. Cue emails backwards and forwards with the 'tech' team who seemed incapable of answering my questions, or realising the blindingly obvious, 4 phone calls with the 'tech' team (one of whom was a complete dick), who still refused to believe the speed cap was on, until they did. They offered me a month free - effectively the time I was with zero broadband. Not acceptable. Am awaiting a response from the CEO's office, because yes, I found the email format, followed him on Twitter, and emailed him - because all too frequently, the people at the top of an organisation have no clue what is happening beneath them.

A month or so ago I turned up for a Nail Appointment at Nails Inc, having booked in a week before, and confirmed by text (their system, not mine) the day before. There was no booking in the system for me. This was the second time it had happened. One of the girls admitted that a member of the team was on a promotional day and had been double booked, so it had “probably been taken out of the calendar”. They apologised, but didn’t really seem to think that cancelling and not telling the client was a biggie! What??! That is your entire business! I went mental. And I went mental on Twitter. Cue some vouchers. They redeemed themselves, but I’ll never go to that particular branch again.

My utmost favourite, was when I was trying to buy the boyfriend a pen, but knowing he likes a very thin line, I wanted to know how thick the nib was. I emailed Mont Blanc, and asked them if they could give me the spec of the pen and the nib. A lady from Customer service emailed back, with their Manchester Store address on the signature of the email (presuming that’s where Head Office was), and said she wasn’t sure what size it was, perhaps I could pop into a store and take a look. I replied and said that as they were a luxury pen maker, perhaps a) she should know, and perhaps b) as the store was downstairs from Head Office, she could go and take a look herself....

I’ll stop there, before the moaning takes hold. These are just a few examples. And to be fair, if I get good Customer Service, I often email and say so, so I’m not a complete grump.
But it does make me realise that if something goes wrong, you need time to put it right. In the same way as you need time to do all your paperwork. And most people don’t have time. So most people miss out on offers, miss deadlines and payments, and miss out on refunds which they are surely due. (Setting aside the fraudulent companies that submit PPI claims for people that aren’t due them and hold all the legitimate claims up.... stepping off my bandwagon now... ) And I think a lot of Companies rely on that. They rely on us not pursuing what we are due. What is right. And we really should. Otherwise nothing will change, and that would be a shame.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sex: Drive, Initiation, Foreplay and Dialogue....

For all the literature, all the free porn, all the primarily patriarchal hype around sex that suggests men are always up for it, and women are often claiming headaches, I would suggest that most women have a higher sex drive than men. This sexually omnipotent and carnivorous man, twinned with a nurofen’d up, limp woman, is a myth. One increasingly divorced from reality. I can only speak for the women I know, and they vary in age, circumstance and background. But they are all more sexually driven than the guys.
But that creates its own problems – namely that it is assumed the woman is raring to go.... Alongside the sex drive issue, I’d also suggest that there is a prevalent and underlying norm of the man as “initiator” of sex. Yes, there are plenty of articles in Cosmo suggesting you surprise your man in a Mac and nothing underneath, or blindfold him at dinner. But in my experience, men rarely like surprises. And whilst those female instigated sex sessions are fun and spontaneous, they aren’t considered the norm. If they were, we wouldn’t be told to try them out – they’d already be common parlance.
The problem with the man as initiator of sex, is that it takes him significantly less time to be ready for action. And if he’s initiating, he’s probably been thinking about it for a while, so he’s already gee’d up. And the woman might be completely unawares. And therein lies the rub. The man is already nearly at the finish line, and the woman hasn’t put her trainers on. I’m not talking about how long a guy lasts here. I’m talking about the actual act of sex. And yes, I’m sure it happens the other way around too. But I’d hazard a guess that that’s less frequent.

I would suggest that in the same way a man takes it where he can get it when he’s single, a woman takes it where she can get it when she’s attached. I can hear some women and men reeling at this as they read it, but hey ho ;-) It's just a theory. Which leads the man to think she’s always up for it and ready to go, when really, she still needs all the foreplay she used to get. I’m not including quickies here – well up for those, and often something rather hot about being bent over the sofa at a moment’s notice (let's hope the boyfriend's mother isn't reading this post!). I’m also well aware that this isn’t the case for everyone – I know there are plenty of women who experience a decrease in their sex drive, as well as men; plenty of people who aren’t really all that fussed about sex, etc etc. So I can only go on the experiences of myself and my friends.
I think we also suffer from a modern day feminist problem – men have been encouraged to make sure the that the woman’s needs are taken care of, or to put it another way, to make sure she comes first. Which can sometimes lead to a “getting it out of the way”, for want of a better phrase. And that is something to be avoided at all costs. Foreplay isn’t the woman’s orgasm. It’s all the stuff that leads up to it. The stuff that gets her panting for you to venture downwards and then go about making her come.

And so I find myself coming back to the question for the couple in a long term relationship - How do we keep the foreplay up? Tracey Cox would suggest you place his mouth on your nipple and say “I really like it when you do that”, removing his hand should it venture between your legs until you’re ready, and so on and so forth. But do we really want to have to ask further down the line? How do we educate? And more importantly, are there things we’re no longer doing to or for them, that we used to? How will they tell us? How do you find a happy medium between the quickie and the 4hr sex sessions you had at the beginning? How do you communicate that you’re turned on and still fancy them, but that you also still need warming up?
I’m not sure I have any answers. But I think it’s something that we don’t speak about, and we should. There’s a culture of talking about every delightful gory detail with your friends, when it’s casual sex, but people rarely talk about the ins and outs (I can’t help it) of sex in a relationship when they’re with their mates. It’s not a done thing. Probably for good reason, I hear my boyfriend wail as he reads this.

But it strikes me that that is the wider issue. Are we only happy to talk about sex when it’s good? I’ll be honest, I doubt I’d write about a lack of sex if there was one. I doubt I’d write about it if the sex was awful. Maybe in a comedy sense, but certainly not in an honest, “let’s talk about this” blog. Obviously we talk less once we’re with someone because there’s a privacy element – I get that, believe it or not J But it strikes me there’s still a gap in the market – somewhere between the agony aunt pages, Ann Summers parties, and deafening silence.
A friend once said that when a relationship is good, sex is 10% of the equation, and when a relationship is bad, sex is 100% of it. I think that makes a lot of sense. It shouldn’t be the be all and end all, but it is what makes the difference between a friendship and a relationship – it’s pretty important. And it deserves more honest and open dialogue. Not just within a couple, but amongst friends, within society as a whole.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

What is Foreplay? Part 2

So, Foreplay.

I sat down to write about Foreplay a few weeks ago, and it threw up some amusing issues. Notably, that Foreplay is rather changeable, depending on whether you're talking about a 1 nighter, a fling, the start of a relationship, or once you're in a long term relationship.

Wikipedia says:

"Not to be confused with Fourplay". Amusing. And then...

"A set of emotionally intimate and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create desire for sexual activity and sexual arousal".

So, it's to create desire for sex and also sexual arousal.

Now, it was a bit of a running joke that in my single days, I often used to proclaim that "dancing is foreplay". You're essentially rubbing your body up and down someone elses and swaying your hips - that's how I like to dance, not the rubbing bit, but feet still, hips moving - saves on the heels and the sweat :-) No jumping up and down for me, not without a sports bra. Now if that isn't a build up to sex, I don't know what is. And there's the issue - it's really 'build up' rather than Foreplay isn't it? As my amused boyfriend pointed out, if I consider dancing an essential element of Foreplay, then we are buggered. Cos he does not dance. Well, not yet anyway. He's got a family barn dance to contend with shortly, and I'll be surprised if one of my Aunts, or Uncles doesn't drag him up for a Dosey Doe. Though hopefully they won't proposition him for sex afterwards, as I might....

But there is a build up in 1 nighters, flings, at the start of a relationship, that isn't there further down the line. If it's casual, it's highly likely it's been a while, that there is alcohol involved, some dancing has been done, and it's purely a case of working out how long before one of you suggests a cab. If it's the start of  relationship, there's a period of discovery, of exploration, of navigation, of speedy control.... it's a time for both parties to work out what the other one likes, and more importantly, for both parties to articulate what they want.

And then you're into the relationship, and Foreplay changes, doesn't it? There isn't the excitement of "will we, won't we" before you've consummated a relationship. There isn't a period of starvation, unless one of you has been away. There isn't the same level of exploration, though you still get to discover new things. But it's an entirely different ball game, excuse my pun.

I'd suggest that when it's casual or new, the challenging part of Foreplay is the Sexual Arousal (working out what they like, showing them what you need etc), not the creation of Sexual Desire. Whereas in a relationship, you know how to arouse the other person, but the time spent creating the Sexual Desire isn't there to the same degree. Because it's sort of a given that you fancy your partner, and that you'll want to get down and dirty. But it's quite possible that you don't always feel in the mood at the same time. Which leads me on to sex. And who initiates it. For the next blog post.. :-)

Feel free to proffer your Foreplay thoughts in the meantime... And I'll leave you with a quote from Rob Alex (no clue - if you google Quotes on Foreplay he comes up. Boom. Boom):

"Foreplay starts in the morning, not a few minutes before intimacy. Don't miss the opportunity to make foreplay last all day".

I think I'm going to have start getting up earlier.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What is Foreplay? Part 1

Some week ago on Facebook, the social barometer du jour, I asked people to define sex, and a couple of days later, to define Foreplay. The former got 32 replies, the latter only 10.... Which I think says a lot. I'm going to talk about Foreplay in 2 or 3 posts, but here are a selection of the replies to get you started....  with thanks to my friends who commented :-)

Define Sex

"Anything where someone consciously brings you to orgasm. Whether you're conscious or not."

"It's been so long I've forgotten, pretty sure this, right now, isn't it. Pretty sure this is social networking. I know if you're Christian, you're supposed to squeeze guilt in there somewhere."

"Anything I'm not allowed to do with another woman..."

"It's been so long I've forgotten, pretty sure this, right now, isn't it. Pretty sure this is social networking. I know if you're Christian, you're supposed to squeeze guilt in there somewhere."

"My old flatmate defined sex as anytime she had an orgasm-either with another man/woman or herself. On the same note if she hooked up with a dude/woman and didn't orgasm she said it didn't count towards her number of sexual partners."

"Ok, penetrating yourself DEFINITELY doesn't count."

"What I don't understand is why we are hung up on sex but don't consider intimacy. Is it worse for a guy to have sex with a prostitute or a kiss on the lips with an ex partner? Isn't it the level of intimacy between them that changes it from a joint masturbatory act into sex?"

Define Foreplay

"he empties the dishwasher."


"giving the sheets a scrape ? :P"


"Better than sex."

So, some interesting answers on Foreplay compared with the sex ones. I think I would define it as the pleasurable stuff before orgasms happen, but I think some might say it's the pleasurable stuff before penetration. Some might want to distinguish between genital and non genital stimulation. Some might just want some!

More anon....