Wednesday, 23 March 2005

The whole range, in ten chapters

When I was eleven years old a friend lent me a book. I remember that it had a red cover with a picture of a tree on it; I could not see the point of this at the time, but I suppose it stood for the Tree of Knowledge, or perhaps Forbidden Fruit, for although I forget what it was called the book should have been sub-titled The Complete Illustrated Guide to Orgies and Perversions.

I read it from cover to over with mounting amazement. I was not in the least shocked - I had a healthy degree of youthful prurience - but I was a rather squeamish little boy, and some of the illustrations made me turn the page over hastily.

My reaction was much like the way I felt years later when I first encountered a restaurant menu in French: I puzzled over unfamiliar words, doubted if I would be able to cope, and constantly wondered Would I really like this?

It seemed to me that I was being offered a range of choices. Nearly all them I rejected out of hand since they sounded painful, unhygienic, unkind, or unlikely to be any fun at all (like Wet and Messy Fetishism - known as WAM and celebrated, I discovered later, in a magazine called Splosh!). Then there was undinism (what’s the point?), and a lot of stuff about Sappho which rather took my fancy until I realised that such practices are only for members of a club to which I could never belong.

Other activities struck me as highly impractical, or too much like hard work: by the time one had set up a lot of heavy equipment and enlisted the services of three other people and a goat, one would, I felt, have become quite tired and gone off the idea. I was at that time subject to normal adolescent laziness, though it was not until much later that I fell prey to the chronic indolence which has caused my lifetime's achievements to have been fairly unremarkable.

To me at that time, considering all these possibilities was no more than vaguely interesting. Model trains were more my concern: Hornby summed me up, and it was not until several years later that one might have taken away the b. But I was happy to gain a smattering of knowledge in this sphere, for teenagers were very unsophisticated in those days and for a few years I was able to imply in conversation with my peers that I was experienced in these recondite matters by making an occasional allusion to some depraved practice which I knew about, at least in theory.

Anyway, at the age of eleven I made a choice which worked out well: when I was grown up, I decided, I would attempt only one activity in this whole area, that is to say having cuddles with nice ladies (a practice described merely en passant in Chapter One). And, you know, I’ve never regretted it.


PerfectlyVocal said...

Yes, when all is said and done, there's a lot to be said for cuddles with nice ladies (speaking as the nice lady on the receiving end I hasten to add) It may not be the stuff that has you turning the pages in a frenzy, but how much of life is? I loved this post, it made me smile!

Tony said...

Thank you, it's good to know I can still make a nice lady smile.

Teddy III said...

Like Obélix, il est tombé dedans quand il était petit!