NOTHING TO SEE

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.


Albert Einstein

Stupid things 

Do animals do stupid things? Would an animal commit an act of utter idiocy and then sit down (if it’s an animal with a bottom and not say, a snake,) and have a word with itself saying, “Well, that sure was dumb.”?

I’m going to say “no”. This means that what really separates us from the beasts is our ability to be utterly, gloriously stupid. I like that. 

Take the time I put my hair in the mangle. I thought I would have hair all smooth and sleek, like a dark glassy lake but instead I had a mangle attached to my head. Similarly, there was the time I attempted to give myself curls after swimming by rolling a comb up in my hair and then had to sit all the way through “The Adventures of Sinbad” with a comb protruding from my ear like an unexploded doodlebug. 

Sometimes we would take turns at putting on my Mum’s shiny nylon housecoat and launch ourselves head first onto an old mattress we had chucked onto the stairs. It was a kind of 70’s homespun version of the skeleton luge, one where the competitors wore Wranglers and gave each other Chinese burns while waiting to compete. Anyway, one time I decided to freestyle a forward roll at the top. We learnt an important lesson about momentum that day. Also minor concussion.

Once I was drunk in a pub when a friend of mine, inspired by the movie Le Hussard Sur Le Toit”  (go to 1.46), started to dip his finger in his whisky and then set light to it. Emboldened by our inebriated admiration, he decided to try it with his nose whereupon his nasal hair went up like a forgotten hedgehog on Bonfire Night. He awoke the next morning a dead ringer for WC Fields. 

So many stupid things. Stripping to your pants and vest and rolling yourself in fibreglass loft insulation in the gang hut, “hiding” a Meri Mate bottle of cola in 4th year arithmetic by pouring the contents on the classroom floor, using two plastic bags as makeshift oven gloves. I could go on. 

Good fun, stupid stuff, as long as you don’t kill yourself in the process. I don’t seem to be so stupid these days. No more tying tin cans to life’s tail, instead I sit quietly while it pads around me and settles in my lap. 

Close Encounter #2 

Walking home in the small hours of the morning the other night, I saw a young girl crying in the street. 

Her forehead rested on the door of a tenement flat, her blonde hair whipping in the wind and tangling round the thin black straps on her bare shoulders. 

"Are you all right?" I asked. 

She turned round very abruptly, gulping in air. “Yes. I’m fine.” she said. 

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes, I’m f-f-fine." 

She must have been about eighteen or so, a shivering wraith in her tiny dress, her black spiky lashes imprinted on her wet cheeks. Tripping over her words and swaying in her heels.

"I know you say you’re fine," I said, "but I’m a Mum, and you don’t look fine to me." 

I don’t know why I said, “I’m a Mum.”, because she looked so young, I suppose.  As soon as I said it she put her head on my shoulder and burst into tears. 

"I was just being supportive! I was just. being. supportive. It’s so hard. It’s been very hard. I try so hard. They all went away and left me." 

She managed her name but not where she lived or someone that I could phone. "I’m not c-c-c-cold." she said when I tried to give her my scarf. Suddenly she pointed and said, ” There! I live there! By those bins!” 

We walked fifty yards down the street to another tenement door, and then another.  She tried to press every buzzer in turn until I patted her arm and told her she mustn’t. 

Suddenly a young guy appeared, miraculously sober, wheeling a bike and fishing in his rucksack. She stumbled at him and wailed into his shoulder. “This is my girlfriend.” he said, remarkably composed and patting her back, like when you comfort a baby. 

"Ah, good." I said. "She seemed to have lost her friends. Night."

I watched them go in and walked home. Glad to be 46, in a warm coat and somebody’s Mum. 

In the film “Le Weekend” Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent have a sojourn in Paris, attempting to arrest late middle-aged decline with a series of nouvelle vague-ish adventures; buying clothes they can’t afford, kissing in church, pretending to be people they are not.

But perhaps the most poignant act of rebellion in this piece of Cinema D’un Certain Age is when Broadbent wakes and suddenly begins to create a collage on the wall of their stiflingly expensive hotel suite. Pictures ripped from art books, postcards, scribbled thoughts, a personal picture that was his state of mind.

In my first week at University I went to a poster sale and bought a poster of a young black girl holding a lamb, titled “The Drum”.* I knew nothing about the picture, I just liked it. I liked its ambiguity. You couldn’t tell if the girl was laughing or screaming, or screaming with laughter.

Mostly though I thought it was cool. I hoped that people who popped into my room in halls to borrow a corkscrew, or an egg, or to sit on the windowsill with a jumper pulled down over their knees and thumb through a Penguin classic, might also think it was cool. 

My poster collection grew, and was joined on a succession of walls by Vogue covers, postcards bought and received, (rarely) a gig ticket, or a picture someone had scrawled in the pub. My ephemeral existence on display.

We all did the same, but different.

Stumbling into some baltic kitchen at 3am with a tin of red stripe in your pocket and a stolen ashtray in your handbag. Shivering and lighting fags off the gas cooker while Beatrice Dalle sulked down on you from the “Betty Blue” poster that every boy I ever knew owned. 

Somewhere along the line though, that stopped. The innocuous snap of a clip frame heralding the gentrification of your life. Followed by ironing boards, a drawer full of tablecloths, drink that wasn’t to be drunk that very night. 

As part of a trip organised by the National Galleries of Scotland I once visited the home of a very wealthy Edinburgh art lover. A fairytale Arts and Crafts mansion in an affluent suburb, we were shown paintings by Alberto Morocco, John Bellany, Peploe and George Leslie Hunter, even a Raeburn.  All these treasures, hung on panelled walls, lit so tenderly, shaded from the sun by heaps of suffocating curtain at least a yard thick. The very charming hostess invited us to look round the house at our leisure. I wandered upstairs and opened the door into a bedroom. One whole wall was covered in posters and postcards, tacked on with blue tack. Some were tired and beaten up, some shiny and new.

The only trace of the art school girl the owner once was - those posters and the bitten and chewed fingernails that sometimes tugged at the sleeve of her cashmere sweater. 

My posters are still in the attic. I might dig them out and fix them straight to the wall. Pins pressed into plaster. Defiantly impermanent.

When you carried yourself so lightly, rolled loosely, secured with just a thin elastic band. 

*I subsequently discovered, (Lord knows how in those pre-Google days) that the image had been taken from a South African magazine called “The Drum”.  

The Aunts 
My mother-in-law was talking about a three piece suite the other day. It made me think of The Aunts.
My great aunts had three piece suites, usually kept in permanent gloom in the good room, behind nets or paper roller blinds. The three piece suite would sit waiting, solidly hopeful of a visitor who might muss up their cushions, or brush an arm conspiratorially while leaning over to refill a glass and cast an aspersion. 
My aunts had small houses but still made space for a good room. Life was lived in the kitchen or the back room. Hogmanay, high days, holidays were good room days. 
Though we were also sent there as children. We would visit the aunts for lunch. Mince and tatties and some kind of milk pudding, maybe a bit of home made tablet. Milk for the tea kept on the windowsill because there was no room in a tiny fridge. The aunts in a cross-over pinny or a shiny nylon housecoat. If you arrived too early, maybe their hair in rollers, or pin curls. Hugged by meaty arms into squishy bosoms, appraised from behind horn-rimmed specs. 
Then you’d be sent to the good room to scribble listlessly on scrap paper with stubs of coloured pencils, or play with sets of snakes and ladders from between the wars. Hushing each other and poking around in cupboards you shouldn’t be looking in, finding yellowed Christmas cards and buttons and dried out fountain pens. 
Sat on the three piece suite, swinging my weather beaten brown legs, admiring my white ankle socks and patent Start-rite shoes.  Listening to the adults laughing across the hall. Wondering if it was okay to switch the light on as the good room grew dark. Sighing and wishing it was sunny so you could sulk outside, lie on your belly on the back green and make daisy chains.
All the aunts, Daisy, Agnes, Jenny, Alexandra, Jean, Mima, with their good rooms, and seamed stockings and intimidating handbags that snapped shut like vicious little terriers.
I miss them and their clacking beads, strange hats and throaty laughs. I miss birthday cards with spidery handwriting and a one pound postal order inside. Or maybe I miss me and my favourite patent shoes. 
I know this is all a bit Molly Weir and “jumpers for goalposts”, but it’s my blog so too bad. 

The Aunts 

My mother-in-law was talking about a three piece suite the other day. It made me think of The Aunts.

My great aunts had three piece suites, usually kept in permanent gloom in the good room, behind nets or paper roller blinds. The three piece suite would sit waiting, solidly hopeful of a visitor who might muss up their cushions, or brush an arm conspiratorially while leaning over to refill a glass and cast an aspersion. 

My aunts had small houses but still made space for a good room. Life was lived in the kitchen or the back room. Hogmanay, high days, holidays were good room days. 

Though we were also sent there as children. We would visit the aunts for lunch. Mince and tatties and some kind of milk pudding, maybe a bit of home made tablet. Milk for the tea kept on the windowsill because there was no room in a tiny fridge. The aunts in a cross-over pinny or a shiny nylon housecoat. If you arrived too early, maybe their hair in rollers, or pin curls. Hugged by meaty arms into squishy bosoms, appraised from behind horn-rimmed specs. 

Then you’d be sent to the good room to scribble listlessly on scrap paper with stubs of coloured pencils, or play with sets of snakes and ladders from between the wars. Hushing each other and poking around in cupboards you shouldn’t be looking in, finding yellowed Christmas cards and buttons and dried out fountain pens. 

Sat on the three piece suite, swinging my weather beaten brown legs, admiring my white ankle socks and patent Start-rite shoes.  Listening to the adults laughing across the hall. Wondering if it was okay to switch the light on as the good room grew dark. Sighing and wishing it was sunny so you could sulk outside, lie on your belly on the back green and make daisy chains.

All the aunts, Daisy, Agnes, Jenny, Alexandra, Jean, Mima, with their good rooms, and seamed stockings and intimidating handbags that snapped shut like vicious little terriers.

I miss them and their clacking beads, strange hats and throaty laughs. I miss birthday cards with spidery handwriting and a one pound postal order inside. Or maybe I miss me and my favourite patent shoes. 

I know this is all a bit Molly Weir and “jumpers for goalposts”, but it’s my blog so too bad. 

Close Encounter

A man who looked like a dreadlocked, tattooed Jesus was looking at me from his window today. For no reason I looked up and there he was, shirtless and smoking a cigarette, his forearms crossed and resting on the sill as he hung out of the window.

He didn’t look away when I looked up. He smiled at me, showing a missing front tooth. I kept walking, but when I crossed the road I looked up again and he was still there, still looking, still smiling, still amused. He kept looking at me when I looked at him. He kept looking, amused, when he tapped his cigarette ash onto the pavement below. 

I kept walking and I didn’t look up again, but I could still picture him. For a moment I was tempted to turn back, walk up to the window, say “Hi!” and ask him how he lost his tooth. 

Maybe he’d have invited me up.  Maybe I’d have gone.  Maybe he’d have put a shirt on. Maybe not. Maybe we’d have ended up drinking whisky out of chipped mugs while I heard the tale of the tooth.  

Maybe he’d have turned out to be Jesus. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus had dreadlocks and tattoos and smoked, smiling at passing souls from a tenement window.

Maybe he wasn’t Jesus. Maybe he’d simply have chopped me up into little pieces and thrown me in the river. That’s probably why, in the end, I didn’t turn back and talk to him. Just in case. 

So, I kept walking and I didn’t talk to him. I don’t know how he lost his tooth, or how tall he was, or if he was Jesus. But still, a close encounter of a kind. 

The Great British Bake Off brou ha ha, with Ruby and her pretty petted lip, got me thinking about the hardships of being a beautiful girl.

Aw, poor things, having to pick their way round the world laid at their feet, in their too tight diamond shoes.  Our hearts bleed. 

Imagine if you did have to wear too tight diamond shoes, though. Cursed by a malevolent sprite, like the heroine of a fairy story, to suffer such agony every day, while the world was not only deaf to your distress, but ridiculed it and told you how lucky you were to have it. Her, with her diamond shoes - she loves them, loves it, loves herself.

I went to school with a truly, preternaturally beautiful girl. Great gooseberry green eyes in a heart shaped pebble of a face, smooth and glassy, studded with perfect pink lips. Tumbling blonde curls, bouncing breasts, just the right amount of broad in the beam. I once saw a man ride his bicycle into a lamp post, just like in the movies, because he couldn’t stop looking at her. 

Even at the time, in my teens, I knew there was something troubling about being that beautiful. She was quite shy my friend, but her beauty announced her to the room like a fanfare wherever she went. Sometimes she hated it. She tried very hard to make it quiet, but it was usually impossible. It was like watching a fugitive make their way through a crowd. Little by little the ripple would start, heads would turn and then there was nothing to do but run or give yourself up. 

She was a nice girl. Funny, a good listener, with a healthy sense of the absurd, a bit cack-handed (like Ruby), prone to laddering her tights. But mostly people didn’t see her. They saw what they wanted to see, an empty vessel that they could fill as they pleased - with their fantasies or their inadequacies and often they didn’t really listen when she tried to tell them what she really was. They just looked at those great, green eyes and heard the voice in their own head. 

It wasn’t all disaster of course. Sometimes I’m sure it was lovely to be admired and remembered. Some doors were flung open and important people were desperate to receive her. Sometimes though they were slammed in her face just because it was there. 

I’m not suggesting it blighted her life totally. But when we were young it was both a blessing and a curse, I’m very sure of that. 

Another Me 
This is a picture of me, open pores, wrinkles, sun spots and all. Sometimes I wish I were a different person. I don’t mean I want to be Scarlett Johansson, or Margaret Beckett or Florence Bloody Nightingale, or even Ryan Gosling. I do still want to be me, but different and better. 
I wish I was reckless and devil-may-care and a risk taker instead of someone who frets that a stranger is about to trip over their laces. I wish I had a better work ethic and more drive and tenacity and that I wasn’t so bloody lazy. 
I wish I had more passions and enthusiasms, so that whoever delivered my eulogy would speak in glowing terms of my commitment to the cause or the project or my art, and how I would never settle for second best, instead of seeing second best as something that happened to me once when the stars aligned and all the really good people were at home in bed with the norovirus. 
I wish I had more self-discipline so that what talents I do have might be given a chance to shine, rather than consigned to playing second spear carrier to my love affair with procrastination. 
I wish I took better care of myself and exercised more and ate healthily and well and had a cupboard full of exotic pastes in colourful tins, instead of Schwartz jars of dust that used to be spices. I wish I stuck at things, especially things I liked, instead of giving up because it is raining or I am tired or because for some unknown reason I cannot resist fanning the smouldering embers of self-destruction into a roaring flame and crapping out of Zumba as a result. EVEN THOUGH I LIKE IT.
I wish I could reinvent myself and change my name to Vicky Romanoff and move to LA where I would tell people that I had been a ringmaster in the circus and the warden of Edinburgh Castle. But I couldn’t because that would be reckless and would involve self-discipline and many other qualities that I don’t posses and also because I couldn’t quieten the small Scottish voice in my brain telling me I was a pretentious arsehole. 
Part of me wishes I were more like Madonna, breaking balls and eating popcorn from my cleavage. But then, I once read an interview with Madonna where she was asked if she ever thought “How did this happen? Why me?” and she said, “No. I can’t let myself think like that.” Which is pretty revealing. It makes me feel a bit better to know that a lot of driven, succesful people are probably on the run from themselves. Which isn’t very nice of me, is it? 
And that’s another thing. I wish I were nicer and more thoughtful, and took better care of my friendships. I wish I were the kind of person who volunteered for stuff and took in waifs and strays and organised street parties and didn’t think awful things about other people’s children. 
I don’t like the fact that I think these things about myself. I know I’m not so bad, I know I’m not chopped liver. I also know it’s horribly self indulgent and self obsessed. Get over yourself as they say in the US of A. “Who do you think will be looking at you anyway?” as my mother and grandmother would cry. I don’t think it every day. Some days when the sun is shining and my hair is behaving and I’ve had a glass of wine at lunchtime, I feel like Jemima Bloody Khan. 
But some days I want to be a different person. I know it’s pointless and wrong, but I do. 

Another Me 

This is a picture of me, open pores, wrinkles, sun spots and all. Sometimes I wish I were a different person. I don’t mean I want to be Scarlett Johansson, or Margaret Beckett or Florence Bloody Nightingale, or even Ryan Gosling. I do still want to be me, but different and better. 

I wish I was reckless and devil-may-care and a risk taker instead of someone who frets that a stranger is about to trip over their laces. I wish I had a better work ethic and more drive and tenacity and that I wasn’t so bloody lazy. 

I wish I had more passions and enthusiasms, so that whoever delivered my eulogy would speak in glowing terms of my commitment to the cause or the project or my art, and how I would never settle for second best, instead of seeing second best as something that happened to me once when the stars aligned and all the really good people were at home in bed with the norovirus. 

I wish I had more self-discipline so that what talents I do have might be given a chance to shine, rather than consigned to playing second spear carrier to my love affair with procrastination. 

I wish I took better care of myself and exercised more and ate healthily and well and had a cupboard full of exotic pastes in colourful tins, instead of Schwartz jars of dust that used to be spices. I wish I stuck at things, especially things I liked, instead of giving up because it is raining or I am tired or because for some unknown reason I cannot resist fanning the smouldering embers of self-destruction into a roaring flame and crapping out of Zumba as a result. EVEN THOUGH I LIKE IT.

I wish I could reinvent myself and change my name to Vicky Romanoff and move to LA where I would tell people that I had been a ringmaster in the circus and the warden of Edinburgh Castle. But I couldn’t because that would be reckless and would involve self-discipline and many other qualities that I don’t posses and also because I couldn’t quieten the small Scottish voice in my brain telling me I was a pretentious arsehole. 

Part of me wishes I were more like Madonna, breaking balls and eating popcorn from my cleavage. But then, I once read an interview with Madonna where she was asked if she ever thought “How did this happen? Why me?” and she said, “No. I can’t let myself think like that.” Which is pretty revealing. It makes me feel a bit better to know that a lot of driven, succesful people are probably on the run from themselves. Which isn’t very nice of me, is it? 

And that’s another thing. I wish I were nicer and more thoughtful, and took better care of my friendships. I wish I were the kind of person who volunteered for stuff and took in waifs and strays and organised street parties and didn’t think awful things about other people’s children. 

I don’t like the fact that I think these things about myself. I know I’m not so bad, I know I’m not chopped liver. I also know it’s horribly self indulgent and self obsessed. Get over yourself as they say in the US of A. “Who do you think will be looking at you anyway?” as my mother and grandmother would cry. I don’t think it every day. Some days when the sun is shining and my hair is behaving and I’ve had a glass of wine at lunchtime, I feel like Jemima Bloody Khan. 

But some days I want to be a different person. I know it’s pointless and wrong, but I do. 

9 October 12

Headrush

(Tap. Tap. Is this thing on?)

Something I have always liked about myself is that I don’t give a shit about labels. Not even when I was a teenager particularly.  Maybe it was to do with growing up in the 80’s when you bought your coats in Oxfam and second hand Levi’s in Flip. 

If someone admires something I’m wearing and I tell them I bought it in a charity shop, they might pat my arm and, in a stage whisper, say, “Oh well, you can just tell people it came from an exclusive little boutique.” Why? Why would I say that? Well, I mean I  know why, but frankly, life’s too bloody short. 

I couldn’t care less about labels in music either. If I like it, I like it. I feel a bit sorry for music snobs, it’s like they need permission to experience something.  Idiots. People used to make fun of me for loving Petula Clark, and were surprised when I told them she was John Lennon’s favourite singer. Her voice has that cracked emotion that taps into your heart. 

Anyway, today I heard this song “Domino” on the radio. Jessie J sings it. I think it’s bloody sexy and it makes me want to dance. I turned it up really loud in the car with the cold autumn air blasting in the window:

"You’re like a shot of pure gold. I think I’m about to explode. 

I can taste the tension like a cloud of smoke in the air. 

Now I’m breathing like I’m running 

Cos you’re taking me there.”

I got that brilliant sun shining music headrush and I couldn’t give a toss if it’s not cool. 

6 August 2012
Stardust
My friend Claire (@Clairey11 on Twitter) is producing a movie called “Not Another Happy Ending” starring Karen Gillan which is currenty being filmed in Glasgow. One day last week my daughter and I spent a day on the set as extras. My daughter is a huge Dr Who fan and a particular fan of Karen Gillan’s character, the Dr’s former assistant Amy Pond.
Being a movie extra is a little like being an ant traversing a mobius strip. Repetition after repetition, looping round and round, you set out on each take channelling the enthusiasm of an explorer setting foot on virgin soil, only to end up back where you started but with the nagging sensation that your jacket was buttoned up differently last time.
The magic of the celluloid story lighting up the big screen is pretty hard to imagine when you’re in a graveyard, on the 15th take, mouthing silent gibberish to total strangers. It’s even harder when you’re a young child with a relatively low boredom threshold, pink-cheeked from the heat of the unseasonal duffel coat you’ve been asked to wear.
And yet it was magical for my daughter. I have rarely seen her so genuinely thrilled, nerves jangling and lit up inside.
Celebrity is a pretty devalued currency these days, when a stray sweat patch can get you star billing on the cover of a magazine. But being on set that day reminded me that celebrity can still play host to our much more authentic need for heroes.
At the end of the day, as the cameras, monitors and the rest of the paraphenalia were being packed away, Karen Gillan came over to have a quick word with my daughter. To me she was an almost supernaturally lovely young woman with silky green eyes and a ready laugh.
But to my daughter, she was Amy Pond. She was a woman who had crossed galaxies and wise-cracked with aliens. She was “The Girl Who Waited”, who shut the door on her one true love so that her younger self could live happily ever after. She was a hero and it was wonderful to see her stardust reflected in my daughter’s eyes.

6 August 2012

Stardust

My friend Claire (@Clairey11 on Twitter) is producing a movie called “Not Another Happy Ending” starring Karen Gillan which is currenty being filmed in Glasgow. One day last week my daughter and I spent a day on the set as extras. My daughter is a huge Dr Who fan and a particular fan of Karen Gillan’s character, the Dr’s former assistant Amy Pond.

Being a movie extra is a little like being an ant traversing a mobius strip. Repetition after repetition, looping round and round, you set out on each take channelling the enthusiasm of an explorer setting foot on virgin soil, only to end up back where you started but with the nagging sensation that your jacket was buttoned up differently last time.

The magic of the celluloid story lighting up the big screen is pretty hard to imagine when you’re in a graveyard, on the 15th take, mouthing silent gibberish to total strangers. It’s even harder when you’re a young child with a relatively low boredom threshold, pink-cheeked from the heat of the unseasonal duffel coat you’ve been asked to wear.

And yet it was magical for my daughter. I have rarely seen her so genuinely thrilled, nerves jangling and lit up inside.

Celebrity is a pretty devalued currency these days, when a stray sweat patch can get you star billing on the cover of a magazine. But being on set that day reminded me that celebrity can still play host to our much more authentic need for heroes.

At the end of the day, as the cameras, monitors and the rest of the paraphenalia were being packed away, Karen Gillan came over to have a quick word with my daughter. To me she was an almost supernaturally lovely young woman with silky green eyes and a ready laugh.

But to my daughter, she was Amy Pond. She was a woman who had crossed galaxies and wise-cracked with aliens. She was “The Girl Who Waited”, who shut the door on her one true love so that her younger self could live happily ever after. She was a hero and it was wonderful to see her stardust reflected in my daughter’s eyes.

23 July 
Mucky books 
This blog is not about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I haven’t read it and I have no particular desire to. I know that practically everybody in the whole world has read it and it means that I get ignored in the hairdresser’s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book.
For some reason it occurred to me today that rather than read “Fifty Shades”, I would reread “Scruples”, by Judith Krantz, one of the first books I read as a teenager that had sexy bits in. 
I found it at my Gran’s when I was in my teens and it made quite an impression. Over to Wikipedia;  
The novel details the life story of protagonist Wilhelmina Hunnewell Winthrop (“Billy”), as she evolves from the overweight “poor relation” in an aristocratic Boston Brahmin family to become a thin, stylish woman who is left a vast fortune by the death of her much older first husband and who founds an upscale Beverly Hills boutique called “Scruples.
There you have it, the holy grail of bonkbuster fiction: money, sex, shopping and weight loss. It was the first book I ever read that talked about sex in a reasonably explicit way. More importantly though, it was the first book I read that depicted sexual pleasure. That’s why it’s stuck in my memory. 
Sex education can teach you the mechanics and the relationship theory, in the way that you can draw a picture and describe the taste of a very juicy, ripe fruit. But that’s hardly the whole shebang is it? Of course there’s no substitute for actually taking a bite and tasting it for yourself but, if you’re young, a well written mucky book can give you a flavour of it in a way that classroom lectures never will.
I wonder what it will be like for future teenagers who will read their mucky books on screens? It seems odd to think that they won’t have the experience of watching the book fall open at that well thumbed page. I’m glad the teenage me found some mucky books, because they gave me a glimpse not just of what sex was, but how it felt.  

23 July 

Mucky books 

This blog is not about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I haven’t read it and I have no particular desire to. I know that practically everybody in the whole world has read it and it means that I get ignored in the hairdresser’s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book.

For some reason it occurred to me today that rather than read “Fifty Shades”, I would reread “Scruples”, by Judith Krantz, one of the first books I read as a teenager that had sexy bits in. 

I found it at my Gran’s when I was in my teens and it made quite an impression. Over to Wikipedia;  

The novel details the life story of protagonist Wilhelmina Hunnewell Winthrop (“Billy”), as she evolves from the overweight “poor relation” in an aristocratic Boston Brahmin family to become a thin, stylish woman who is left a vast fortune by the death of her much older first husband and who founds an upscale Beverly Hills boutique called “Scruples.

There you have it, the holy grail of bonkbuster fiction: money, sex, shopping and weight loss. It was the first book I ever read that talked about sex in a reasonably explicit way. More importantly though, it was the first book I read that depicted sexual pleasure. That’s why it’s stuck in my memory. 

Sex education can teach you the mechanics and the relationship theory, in the way that you can draw a picture and describe the taste of a very juicy, ripe fruit. But that’s hardly the whole shebang is it? Of course there’s no substitute for actually taking a bite and tasting it for yourself but, if you’re young, a well written mucky book can give you a flavour of it in a way that classroom lectures never will.

I wonder what it will be like for future teenagers who will read their mucky books on screens? It seems odd to think that they won’t have the experience of watching the book fall open at that well thumbed page. I’m glad the teenage me found some mucky books, because they gave me a glimpse not just of what sex was, but how it felt.