Endgame: Miles of sex
Laurie Taylor talks dirty
There’s a moment in a DH Lawrence story where he refers to the horror of being trapped in a railway carriage with a passenger who insists upon pushing into his ear chewed up gobbets of political opinion derived from the morning’s edition of the Daily Mail. It’s a story that comes back to me whenever I find myself in a bar with a male companion who, without any invitation, happily embarks upon a lengthy account of his recent sexual exploits. It’s not at all an infrequent occurrence. There seems to be something about my demeanour which positively encourages otherwise reticent men to embark upon graphic descriptions of their sex lives.
Last week it was Miles who stepped up to the mark. We’d hardy ordered our pints in The Harp before he was backing me into a corner and telling me the problems he was having with Helen. He had, he said, been thinking of entering her for the Bad Sex Awards until he realised that it was a literary competition for sub-standard erotic writing rather than an opportunity for people to complain in public about their sexual dissatisfactions. “It’s a great pity really,” he said. “She have won it hands down. Or rather not hands down. If you take my meaning”.
Even though, as always, I did my best to arrange my face into an expression which might suggest that I’d already heard enough about his sex life to last me a lifetime let alone an evening, he was quite undeterred. Within a moment he was giving me such a vivid account of the cunnilingual demands once made upon him by the daughter of a High Court judge – “I suppose with a father like that you get used to sending people down” – that I found it almost impossible to swallow the remains of my Scotch egg.
It was much the same over Christmas with Martin. Although he’s a member of a leading think tank and has a wealth of knowledge about the impact of globalisation on local identity, he’d no sooner clapped eyes on me at the Index on Censorship party than he was off about his latest dalliances. Had he ever told me about librarian Lisa who could only achieve orgasm if at the critical moment he spoke to her in a mock French accent? (He whimsically described this requirement as putting “the chérie on the cake”). Oh yes, and that reminded him of social worker Diana – “did I ever tell you about her?” – who had screamed so loudly during their passionate embraces in an Florentine hotel that he awoke to find that a note had been slipped under his door by the manager politely asking him to “moderate his love noises”.
I’ve occasionally considered putting a stop to such confessions by trumping them with details of my own erotic history. Would my freeloading companions be deterred from further admissions if I confronted them with the story of Angela, my old partner from university days, who liked to do it across the kitchen table while dressed up as a Sister of Mercy? What might they make of the renowned feminist, Lea, who only became properly excited when I when read aloud to her from the latest volume by Judith Butler?
But I fear that this would only encourage them to greater excesses. I’ve already noticed how fellow drinkers in pubs begin to back away when they overhear my companions beginning a long disquisition on such matters as their readiness to dress in women’s clothes or their failed attempts to secure a threesome with their wife’s sister. I can only feel that if I added in my twopenny worth there might be good grounds for the landlord invoking the Public Order Act.
There is the very occasional compensation. My apparent readiness to accept sexual confessions did once make me privy to an extraordinary attempt to change the nature of male sexuality. It all happened one spring morning last year when I ran into a distinguished professor of linguistics outside Waterstone’s in Malet Street. We’d only met briefly once before but on this occasion, no sooner had we commented on the weather, than he launched into a vivid description of what he described as “a major theoretical project”. He was, he told me, seeking to undermine Marx’s theory of the necessary relationship between material infrastructure and cultural superstructure by endeavouring to masturbate without the aid of a fantasy. “Nearly managed it last week,” he bragged as we walked past the customary Waterstone’s array of legal texts. “But then at the very last second, with my mind a complete cultural blank, up pops an image of Sigourney Weaver stripped down to her pants in that scene from Alien.”
None of this exactly helps my own domestic life. “Would you like me to talk dirty to you?”, my partner enquired sympathetically the other night as I slumped disconsolately in front of Newsnight after yet another confessional night out with Miles. “Not if you can help it,” I told her.