I honestly don’t mind being single. Not in the short-term, at least. It means that on nights like last night, when I go out with friends – one married, one single – I get to be the one saying ‘No, stay a bit longer! Have another cocktail!’ rather than the one who’s thinking that she didn’t mean for drinks that started at five to last for five hours and that, really, her husband will be expecting her home by now. I get to stumble through the door, a little bit drunk, and lie in bed like a starfish, because there’s no one to complain that I’m not on my side or that I have all the duvet. But when I woke up, an hour ago, in that confused way you often do – Do I have to get up for work in a couple of hours? No! Why am I awake: hot, thirsty, bad dream? – I wished there was someone here to fuck me. I still don’t love morning sex but the combination of factors – heavy rain on the skylights, room a little too hot, the beginnings of a hangover pulsing behind my temples – that ensured that I wasn’t just going to roll over and go straight back to sleep also made me really damn horny. I wanted to open the window to let the cool and the smell of the rain in. I wanted things I don’t usually want: someone to pull back the duvet, to kneel between my legs and to lick me lazily until I come. I wanted to straddle him, to let him slide inside me and to ride him until he came with a sleepy grunt. None of this would help, of course, technically. It wouldn’t make the room cooler, or stop the rhythmic beat of rain on the roof. But if I’m going to still be awake an hour later, I’d rather be naked and sweat-soaked, the inside of my thighs slicked with his come.
One Sunday morning last month, the day after my 30th birthday party, I curled up in front of the TV with some of my best friends, hungover and still in my PJs.
We ended up watching Sex and the City, as we usually do when the TV is just on as background distraction. After all, there’s always an episode showing on a Sky channel somewhere.
I’m not anti-SATC, or not anti the TV series at least. The films are a different matter. I came to them later than everyone else, as I usually do with anything that’s fashionable – the series ended in 2004 and I watched the entirety of all 6 seasons in bed in the early hours of the morning in May 2007, when I was revising for my finals. It was light, easy, fun – the exact opposite of studying for uni exams.
Earlier this year, I was approached by the Metro, who wanted to trial me to write sex-themed content for their website. They sent me a sample post title, to see if I could write to house style. My entire career has been focused around writing to house style, but I stalled and stalled until eventually I told them I couldn’t do it.
The title of the post they wanted? ’15 ways SATC improved our sex lives.’
I started brainstorming it. I got as far as ‘Introduced us to the Hitachi Magic Wand,’ and a couple of other points that I can no longer remember and seem to have deleted from my phone, and then I got stuck. I asked friends who are way bigger fans than me. I got a couple more suggestions, but nowhere near the required 15. When I thought about it the show was negative about anal, penis size and friends with benefits, amongst other things.
And then I rewatched an episode. Season 5, Episode 70, to be precise. I was still thinking about those 15 things.
One friend said ‘I don’t like Samantha. It’s offputting how she’s so obsessed with sex.’ Briefly, the sex blogger in me was riled. And then I realised she has a point. The best character in Sex and the City is Miranda: she’s intelligent, interesting and pretty well-rounded. Samantha is ‘the one who likes sex,’ and that allows the writers to be lazy. She’s rarely more complex than that.
Anyway, back to the episode. This is the one in which Miranda joins some kind of slimming club and meets a guy there and Samantha blows the UPS guy. I can’t remember what Carrie or Charlotte’s plot lines are (I rarely can). Carrie walks in on Samantha and the mailman and walks straight back out, horrified. That’s fair enough, I guess: if I walked in on a friend of mine blowing a stranger I’d probably be a little taken aback too. But the fall out, and the judgemental attitude she takes towards Samantha last until the end credits roll.
And then there’s Miranda. Who, having just had a baby, needs to lose weight. Obviously. (This put me in mind of the bit in the film where they have a go at her publicly for not waxing, and made me crosser still.) She meets a nice guy, who goes down on her, super enthusiastically. She comes. And … wait for it … he dares to try and kiss her afterwards without wiping his mouth first.
I’m sure that does squick some people. That’s fine. But wouldn’t a more balanced, a more *sex-positive* approach be to have Miranda discuss this with the girls and to have them give a variety of opinions rather than an overwhelming ‘Urgh. Keep some tissues by the bed!’ and the frankly *hilarious* line: ‘Miranda went out with an overeater and he overate her.’ Oh do fuck off, Carrie, you judgemental bitch.’
Interestingly, when I looked up SATC on Wikipedia, everything in the ‘Awards & Recognition’ section was to do with ‘the wonderful wardrobe from Sex and the City, which taught us that no flower is too big, no skirt too short and no shoe too expensive.’
The sex, meanwhile, comes under fire: ‘Sex and the City [was] specifically recognised for glamori[zing] sex while hardly mentioning its downsides, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.’
Those wouldn’t be the areas I’d choose to pick up on – it’s light entertainment, FFS – but does Carrie Bradshaw know good sex?
Well, if she does she’s having it offscreen.
I haven’t bought my Eroticon 2015 tickets yet. There are a few reasons for that: better to wait until payday, fear of a repeat of last year’s anxiety attack, and, most worrying of all, the ‘hope’ that I’ll be in a relationship that means erotica/sex blogging/kink will no longer be a part of my life.
I use ‘hope’ in the loosest possible sense. I’m not actively looking for a relationship in which I’m unable to express my submissive desires. It’s just that, well, finding decent guys on dating websites is hard enough, so inevitably, there are things on my wish-list I’ve decided I’ll compromise on if I have to. And finding a partner who’s at least a little bit dominant may be one of those things.
And yet. One of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had in recent weeks was with my best friend, who I adore. She’s got through her fair share of unsuitable men over the years, but she’s had some great sex with these men. Recently, she’s started dating a nice guy, but, in her words ‘It won’t last if the sex doesn’t improve.’
Ok, so for her, sex is a priority. Great. All the more frustrating then when, over brunch, I was talking about how it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve really started to embrace submission and how fantastic it would be if I met someone who I not only liked and fancied, but who also shared my kinks, and she said ‘Oh, but that wouldn’t really matter if you met the right person.’
I feel like, in a way, I’ve come reluctantly to kink. In the past month two people, completely independently, have pulled me up on my claim to be vanilla, citing my increasing desire for pain, bruising and toys as proof that it’s simply not true. Not to mention increased participation in things like Sinful Sunday. Not only are they right, I’m also having the time of my life, sexually: I’ve discovered what turns me on, I have a sexual partner who’s happy to explore that further with me, and I am *loving* it.
I’ve written before about submission and self-confidence, and unlike Girlonthenet, I still think there can be a link between low self esteem and submission. I think it tends to be a more passive kind of submission – a letting someone else take charge so you don’t make any false moves, rather than purely because it turns you on – but I’d argue that it’s submission nonetheless.
Novels like Fifty Shades of Grey would have us believe that the only reasons you could possibly be interested in BDSM are a) difficult childhood b) trying to hold onto a billionaire who had a difficult childhood. They also promote a very fixed view of what BDSM means: it’s spanking, flogging, bondage, waiting on your knees for your Dom to turn up.
It can be any or all of those things. It can also be none of them. Girlonthenet wrote a wonderful piece a while back about being a ‘stroppy submissive’ and I associate with it more and more. When the boy grabs my wrists and forces them high above my head I don’t submit willingly: I try to wriggle free, desperate to get my hands on his belt, to suck his cock, to touch him. I let him slam them back against the wall, my rings clinking as they hit the plasterboard, and I beg him to let me have his cock in my mouth. When he refuses I don’t look at the floor while my inner goddess pirouettes with joy, I tilt my chin up and look him square in the eye. I’m as defiant in submission as I am outside of the bedroom.
I’d love to find a long-term partner who loved all those things about me and who wanted to embrace them within our relationship. Even before I started exploring my submissive side, sex was a key interest: I’ve been writing erotica for years and years. Not buying an Eroticon ticket for 2015 because I’d met someone who didn’t like that side of me would be a massive let down, really. It would mean I’d compromised massively on who I am. But would I put kink to one side if someone was perfect in every other way? Quite possibly, yes.
If I do though, it’ll be because I choose to compromise. It sure as hell won’t be because I ‘grew out of’ kink.
One of the best things about sex is being able to take your time over it. Sex that’s made up of endless changes of position, long, languorous bouts of kissing, thrusts that slow to almost nothing before building back up to a frantic rhythm.
But I’m a sucker too for last minute decision sex, sex that’s planned ahead but that has to fit neatly into the slot assigned to it. Sex that’s tight on time, but heavy on sensation.
Last minute decision sex can obviously happen within seconds of the decision being made, but I like it when you have to work at it a bit, when you have to travel a bit further than is strictly reasonable, when you can barely justify it to yourself, let alone other people.
It reminds me a bit of Christmas: it’s ostensibly all about the day itself, but actually everyone knows that the real joy is in the run up and the day after. It’s about how wide my pupils are as I hurriedly brush on mascara in the car’s rearview mirror, about the way my Chanel No. 5 smells when it hasn’t yet had time to mellow on my skin, the way you can lose yourself in the crowd in a busy London pub, the way that first sip of red tastes …
The way he tastes …
There’s no denying it, this post is a rant. So, I’ll try to keep it short. After all, I’m blogging every day at the moment, so it’s not as if there won’t be more words tomorrow. I’ll try and make those words a bit cheerier than these, too.
Those of you who read regularly might well remember Hannah Gale-gate – Hannah wrote a blog post for the Metro where she lovingly listed the ’21 Unsexiest Things About Sex.’
Cosmo, I think, has now gone a step further with this. It started pretty well – I clicked on a post called ’12 sex things men really don’t give a crap about.’ But the universe insists that each and every sex-positive list post must be balanced by a sex-negative one, so, when I foolishly looked at the sidebar of ‘clearly Cosmo has absolutely no fucking shame at all,’ I was lured into clicking on this bullshit.
I could have written this post from a ‘oh great, another article that makes me feel shit about having a physical disability’ angle. But you know what? I’m not going to. I don’t think clumsiness, or even perceived clumsiness, is the preserve of those who aren’t able-bodied. I’ve lost track of the number of women who’ve commented or tweeted since I started this blog to say that they too can’t wear heels, and that they wish they could, even though they’re, guess what, able-bodied.
People are clumsy, no doubt about it. They smash mugs with alarming frequency, they trip over invisible objects, they get their hair caught in the zip of their dress. But it’s not special: *everybody* does those things at some point in their life. It doesn’t FUCKING MATTER.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry because I think this perceived lack of grace affects women in a number of different aspects of life – sex and sport being the two that spring most quickly to mind. But mostly I’m angry because that post was written by ‘Anonymous Cosmo staffer.’ You want to write this kind of lame bullshit? Fine. But have the guts to fucking *own* it.
So pretty close to where I live, there’s this wine bar. Which was where I first met the boy.
About a year later, he texted, mid-morning: ‘Did you know the wine bar’s closing?’
I didn’t. I went, not with him, but with a friend, for one last glass after work. I was feeling sentimental.
It takes me a long time to settle in places. Just as I’m beginning to get comfy somewhere, people start to suggest that maybe, for the sake of my career, my desire to have children, for *some reason,* it might be best to move on. And often, I act on that suggestion.
That bar was just a bar. But when I rocked up there to meet the boy for the very first time, it was pretty much my only haunt. I’d been living in the city less than 4 months. I’d made a couple of friends at work, and my best uni friend lived nearby, but nothing felt like home yet.
We met, or went for post-sex drinks there, often, in the early days. And inevitably, I began to associate it with him. It was where I’d tried to decide if I even fancied him. It was where we’d gone together to a wine tasting on our second date and chatted politely to a lot of middle-class, middle-aged men while his hand slid further and further up my thigh…
The night it closed, he rocked up too, eventually. Friend and I left. He texted:
‘Hey, where’d you go?’
I went back. Obviously.
They’d said they would close at eleven or when the wine ran out, whichever came sooner. The wine got progressively worse, but it didn’t dry up. It turned into a lock in. We were both slaughtered.
When they turfed us out in the early hours, I was desperate to have him inside me. We snogged in the street and eventually ducked between a restaurant and an office block. I was wearing jeans, which was my worst decision of the evening, even worse than buying a third bottle. I knelt in the shadows and sucked his cock, and then we tried, pretty unsuccessfully, to fuck against the wall. It wasn’t the best sex we’ve ever had, in fact, it would probably be up there with the worst. If I could remember the details, that is. But it didn’t stop me thinking about it every time I walked past. *Still* thinking about it every time I walk past, for that matter.
And the bar? It reopened six months or so later, under new ownership. I don’t go there much anymore. It’s not the same as it used to be: it’s poncier, all cream paintwork and yummy mummies.
I’m glad it’s still there in one form or another, though. Because, y’know, memories…
OK, a confession. I haven’t actually drunk a Sea Breeze since I was, ooh, 17? The alcohol to juice ratio is way out. But I have a soft spot for them – they remind me of Monday evenings out on the town with my best friend, mixing cheap vodka and lemonade and eating pizza by the river and then going to a cocktail bar for just one (it was all we could afford) before they called last orders. These days I opt for more sophisticated poisons – New World Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco, and, as far as cocktails are concerned, the Q-tini, a martini-style mix of gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, apple juice and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper.
But when Kristina Lloyd asked if I wanted to join in with her Kinky Cocktail Party to launch the start of her blog tour, it was too good an offer to pass up, but too bloody hard to write a kinky Q-tini story. So, Sea Breeze.
If you’re wondering what a Kinky Cocktail Party is, it’s a day long party to celebrate the launch of Kristina’s amazing new novel Undone. You should totally work your way down the menu, which you can find here. And Kristina will be here, talking about her male protagonist, Sol Miller, on Friday, September 5th.
Anyway, Sea Breeze. Kind of a continuation of this.
You think Sea Breeze, you think nice day at the seaside, blue skies, mojitos on the beach, right?
Yeah, not so much.
By the time we went for dinner it was pissing it down. I was still dressed for summer, squelching a bit in my sandals, wet strands of hair clinging to my face. I had to hold my skirt down to make sure I didn’t flash passers-by. I hadn’t checked the forecast before I packed.
We ate huge bowls of pasta, drank red wine, not white, as we usually would. It was pretty much winter out there, after all. After dinner, we headed down to the seafront, in the direction of the pier. I had plans to kick his ass. But the pier was in darkness. Piers shut at night, apparently. Who knew?
Back at the hotel the bar was deserted. We ordered more wine and took it upstairs.
We drank, kissed, talked.
It got late.
He stood up, undid his belt, and slowly pulled it free of his belt loops.
I said something, I can’t remember what exactly. It might have been ‘Ooh, belt…’
He made me lie flat on my stomach. He doubled it over.
And used it to turn my arse the same colour as the wine.
It’s a nice room, in a very nice hotel. My choice. I can be a bit of a princess, you see.
He hangs up his jacket, draws the curtains.
‘Hey’ I say, goading him, ‘I thought you were an exhibitionist.’
He yanks them open again, and the window, too, a bit. Just so we can be heard. The street outside is not so nice.
Pulling me close, he drags my dress over my head, and flicks open the catch my bra. I shrug it off, and lose my knickers, too.
The room is warm – it’s been a hot day – but night has fallen, and it’s drizzling, so when he shoves me up against the glass it’s cold enough against my nipples to make me gasp.
He alternates kisses and filthy, filthy words. I only hear the ones that count. Dirty. Cunt. People. Street. Watching. Slut. Cunt.
Oh, fuck. I’m not sure I remember how. I haven’t used my fingers to make myself come since, oh, 2010?
I rub my clit and watch the rain bounce off the pavements. There are people down there now, talking, laughing.
Please don’t look up.
They round the corner, out of sight. I’m relieved. No wait, that’s wrong. I’m not relieved at all.
I’m … disappointed.
My fingers slow, and he grabs my wrist. ‘Did I say you could stop?’
He spins me round, practically throws me onto the bed. ‘Don’t stop.’
I don’t stop.
I can be a bit of a princess, you see, and princesses do as they’re told.
Wow, I’ve been AWOL for a while, haven’t I? So much so, in fact, that the last post on my blog is still a topless picture of me, and while I’m very, very proud of that photo, it might be time to move on from it now…
Anyway. While I’ve been away, Exhibit A and Em at AnyGirlFriday wrote this response to this piece posted on the Metro website by a blogger called Hannah Gale. And mostly, it’s a very, very good response.
But I’ve read the comments on their post too, and a couple of people seemed to be suggesting that they’d got a little too personal in places; that the post at times became less critical of Hannah’s points, and more critical of Hannah herself. And it occurred to me that the problem with Hannah’s piece is probably only part Hannah: more likely, the real party at fault is the Metro.
Magazines/newspapers are notoriously bad for this kind of stuff – a brief look at the Metro’s blog page this morning yielded this:
OK, bottom right is positive, I guess, and to be fair, the one cut off on the top right is about not slutshaming Magaluf Girl. 10 things all London women know about dating is pretty neutral. But I don’t think you could claim that this selection suggests that the Metro is in any way sex positive. And it’s not just them. A few days back, I caused a bit of a stir on Twitter by sharing this awful Cosmo post called. ‘18 Reasons Not to Give Him a Blowjob.’ Generally, my followers felt there was only one reason not to give a guy a blow job: because you didn’t want to. Stretching it out to 18 increasingly dubious points including one about not wanting to ruin your matte lipstick is unnecessary, patronising and, I think, a completely inaccurate representation of most women’s attitudes towards (oral) sex.
But Hannah’s piece, I think, suffers from the exact opposite problem: while Cosmo desperately tries to stretch a single point out to fill a whole column, Hannah’s entire post, based on some fairly crude calculations, is around the 500 word mark. How many words did Em and Exhibit A use to respond? Well, if you deduct Hannah’s words, which they reproduced, I think it’s around 3000.
The Metro will have asked Hannah to write around 20 points, and probably that 500 words is a limit they set, too. There’s no room within that for Hannah to be nuanced in the way that the response post is. It’s total clickbait, and the Metro *know* that. They probably gave her the title, too and I challenge anyone to put a positive spin on something called ‘The 21 unsexiest things about sex.’
Yes, she doesn’t have to write for them – but the opportunity to write somewhere where you know your writing will be seen, which you could potentially spin as a fairly good gig on your CV might well be difficult to turn down. I don’t think the blame lies with her essentially – I think it lies with the paper and with the list post format. It *is* possible to be nuanced and positive in under 500 words (I try to do just that in most of what I write here) but while we keep clicking on these pathetic posts, we’re not giving the media any reason to change. Seek out independent bloggers instead, and share stuff you like – it’s a much better use of your time than the Metro’s bullshit…
Today is summer solstice, and for the first time I can remember, it feels like summer. Bright blue skies, sundresses, warm enough to be bare-legged.
I have no idea what time the sun came up – at that hour I’d have still been cosied up in prosecco-soaked dreams after stumbling in a little too late after drinks with colleagues. It won’t go down for a good six hours yet though, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy it.
I love those points of the day when the sun rises and falls – almost equally, in fact. Summer sunsets remind me of long, happy barbecues with friends, winter ones of cosying up in front of the fire with a bottle of wine. Sunrise brings memories of May balls – wearing some boy’s suit jacket, shivering in the shadows, feeling the effects of the alcohol beginning to wear off – and of early morning city centres, completely deserted apart from supermarket lorries unloading.
Dark and light, they’re both great, in their own way.
Sex during the day is great too, especially when it feels like you’ve snuck away to do it. Sex in the middle of the afternoon, hidden only by net curtains, the window open a little bit and the smell of barbecues floating in. Lazy, slow, missionary sex , first thing in the morning…
It took me a fairly long time to get there, though, and when I did, most of the sex I had was either during the day or with the lights on. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to fuck in the dark, to feel the other person more than seeing them.
And then, a few months back, I rediscovered its joys in a hotel room: already snuggled up in a warm bed, the boy showed up late, carrying two glasses of red. He left the lights off, only the 24hr glow of the city outside taking the edge off the blackness. We lay side by side, talking, sipping wine. I could just make out that through his boxers, he was stroking his cock.
And I thought: Yeah, I always was a night owl…