Love

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I inherited my rolling pin, its pale wood slick with the grease of years of rolling out scones, Eccles cakes, mince pies… Believe it or not, some cookware is meant to be that way: in the same way you’d season a wok, what I had was a baking tool that worked like a dream because of how often it had been used. I ruined it, though: my hands are too hot for pastry and I put it to work rolling sugarpaste instead. A handful of trips through the dishwasher to clean it of food colouring, and it’s as good as new – pale, clean wood that bears no trace of its heritage.

I tend to think I’ve been more shaped by the men in my life than the women. I’m a daddy’s girl par excellence: not only do I go to my father for affection and for advice; I mirror him in personality, too: that desperate desire to please that hides a deep-seated anxiety. Which was why, when I was in therapy a few years back, I astonished both myself and the therapist by bursting into tears when she asked about my maternal grandmother.

She died when I was eighteen, and on my gap year. I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye. I cried, as you do, but it had little concrete impact on my life: we didn’t live that close and I probably only saw her five or so times a year.

I didn’t see her much more often as a child either, but how those visits have stayed with me. These are my most vivid memories of childhood: bingo in the village hall on a Friday night, winning £5 and putting it towards Take That’s Everything Changes album, being allowed to play it, ad infinitum, in the kitchen, while she made dinner. And younger still: being left in the bath, the bathroom door ajar, while the Coronation Street theme tune leaked through from the lounge. A hot water bottle already in bed waiting for me, and a glass of hot milk on the nightstand – a skin forming where I didn’t drink it quick enough. Being tucked in so tightly I could barely breathe, and allowed to pick my bedtime reading material from a huge pile of Woman’s Weekly and Best magazines.

But more than anything, it was the cooking: butterfly cakes, coffee and walnut sponge, sweet and sour pork, rice pudding. She’d stand me on a chair and let me help, and I learnt to bake that way. When my gas hob died recently, my mum urged me to switch it for an induction one instead but I won’t – yes, new pans would be more expensive, but it’s more than that, the smell of a gas flame, the condensation on my kitchen windows – all of those things take me straight back to my grandma’s kitchen.

When she died, my granddad burnt a lot of her stuff in a fit of grief. I’d done well, on paper: my mum paid for her only diamonds to be reset into rings for me, her and my sister, but the only thing I really wanted was her recipe notebook, which went on the fire. I have the next best thing, I guess, the beautifully titled ‘Radiation cookbook’ filled with her notes and cuttings, but it’s not quite the same.

I always mean to put music on while I bake, but somehow I always forget, and I realised the other day that that’s because when I’m baking I can channel that immense love: it makes me feel closer to her, and more than that, to all the women in my family. I’m neither religious nor spiritual, but I can find peace in flour, eggs, butter and sugar, almost without exception.

Last week I made a chocolate fudge cake for a bake sale at work – the proper 80s kind that’s all cocoa powder and no real chocolate. I topped it with Smarties, because hey, all the best cakes have Smarties.

I dropped it off at 10. At 11.30 a friend rang. ‘Your cake’s all gone,’ she said, ‘Already.’

‘Yeah, well,’ I said, ‘Everyone loves Smarties.’

That’s not what I was really thinking though. What I was really thinking was ‘Thanks, grandma. I love you.’

PS I owe thanks to two bloggers, Ella Dawson and Floraidh Clement, for the inspiration behind this one. Ella, for her post on what someone said ‘sounded a lot like happiness‘ and Floraidh for reminding me that yes, women are hot, but we love them for their ‘strength, wisdom and talents,’ too. Thanks guys! Also, a reminder that if you haven’t yet voted for your favourite post in my ‘Don’t read clickbait, read this instead’ competition, you can do so here. It’s too close to call currently, so it’s definitely worth doing!

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Shoop Shoop

Sometimes, conversations on Twitter rumble on in the background for so long, I forget what the original point was. This was one such conversation and I had to actually go back and retrace it to its roots. Turns out I started it. Colin Firth: would he be good in bed?

Most of Twitter said no. ‘He’d take it *way* too seriously, ‘ seemed to be the most common concern. And from there it spiralled into a conversation about what makes us assume a man will be good in bed. Dancing appeared on the list, as did ‘quiet confidence.’ But kissing? Kissing came up again and again and again.

I make no secret of the fact that that’s a long held belief of mine. Potential partners have lived and died (not literally) by their kiss.

Way back when I was seventeen or so, there was a guy in a nightclub. He may well not have been attractive, but the Smirnoff Ice  had been flowing and when he approached me on the dance floor it didn’t take much to persuade me to snog him.

‘Who was that guy?’ one friend asked, as we stumbled home. ‘He looked like he’d fallen from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.’

Harsh.

But fuck me, he could kiss.

I think he was only the second guy I’d ever kissed, in fact. He was the first to show me that good kissing (and ok, ok, a well-placed thigh between my legs) can make me wet faster than anything else. Kissing makes me want to both rush headlong into full on sex and delay full on sex for as long as possible so that we can just keep on kissing.

Cher had it wrong, sadly. You can’t tell if he loves you so from his kiss – like it or not, that is in the way he acts. God knows good kissers can make you feel like it’s love, though: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said to friends, ‘But how can he kiss like that and not *mean it?*’

With sex, I think if you asked me to rank positions by preference, I could do it pretty easily. Missionary, WoT, Doggy. If you asked me to list my preferences regarding kissing, I’d struggle. Those butterfly-soft kisses all over my face when his cock is deep inside me? The ones that are so punishing they bruise? The first one of the evening, when, for a few moments at least, I get to stop worrying about when I’ll next see him and just get to enjoy it?

How on earth could you ever choose between any of those?

Wicked Wednesday: First Time

The stories of my first times are scattered round the internet. Girlonthenet has the story of my actual first time. My first real wake up call to kink is this post. First kiss is here.

That leaves two, by my reckoning.

‘Write about your “other virginity”‘ suggested someone on Twitter who’s not usually so coy. Anal, I presume she means.

I could. In truth, I’m a little surprised that I never have written about it. I’m not ashamed of having done it, nor of the fact that I like it, much to the surprise of some of my RL friends, who have only ever had bad experiences of anal. The secret to good anal is quite possibly doing it with a guy who is a) not anti being on the receiving end of it and b) knows his way round a bottle of lube, although I didn’t know that either of those things was the case when he first said ‘I really want to fuck your arse.’

But with anal, although I was undeniably nervous that it would hurt, I liked the fact that it felt like something he was entirely in control of. I can understand why that’s the very aspect of it that might terrify some people, but I like it when the responsibility for something physical is taken entirely out of my hands.

So let’s talk about something where it’s not.

I don’t think about my hard limits all that often anymore, but for a long time, oral, both given and received, was my hardest of limits.

Giving head is a skill, undoubtedly. I still think I’m really shit at it. I still worry about grazing him with my teeth, about gagging, about the fact that I can’t make him come that way.

But I used to think you gave oral in order to get oral.

When did that change? The first time he fucked my mouth so hard that my face was a liquified mess of tears, mascara, saliva and pre-come.

It felt like more of a milestone than anal.

Girl Crush (2)

I don’t fancy girls. Or rather, I don’t fancy fucking girls. Not really. I mean, never say never, right? But it would be untrue to say I don’t find them attractive. Because I do. Attractive, and often so much more interesting to watch than men.

I wrote about my official girl crush here, and she’s still going strong: she’s had her hair cut into a cute little pixie look now, and yeah, I still would. But noticing that I notice girls? That’s new.

It’s my inner magpie that can’t resist women. It’s the flash of the light on glitter eyeliner as she flicks her hair behind her ear, the soft roll of flesh above her jeans, the jewellery. Especially the jewellery.

I watched someone fiddle nervously with a stack of beautiful chunky silver rings today as she was reading to a group. My first thought was that her hands were stunning, my second was a recollection of a story I’ve been meaning to write since the end of the summer.

I was on a train, heading back to Geneva airport. In my gap year, the air in Swiss train carriages was so thick with cigarette smoke it wouldn’t been pretty easy to watch someone unnoticed. No longer, sadly.

I didn’t notice her first. I noticed her boyfriend. He wasn’t conventionally attractive but he looked … interesting. Skinny. All in black. Hair tied back. A tiny treble clef tattoo behind his ear. And it was that tattoo that I was still focused on when I spotted her.

She stood out less, truth be told. Skinny jeans. Ballet flats. Vest top. Enviably perky cleavage. And she had this gold necklace – I can’t remember exactly what now, but an ampersand or a delicate bow of some sort. It swung gently from side to side as she crossed and uncrossed her legs, reached over to stroke her boyfriend’s thigh.

It was just a necklace. She was just a girl. It’s funny how I notice some more than others.

On seminal kink

‘Seminal’ is one of those words that makes me really happy. It has its good, solid, academic meaning: ‘very important and having a strong influence on later developments’ and also means ‘spunk-like.’ How can you not love it?

Anyway. I got to thinking about seminal kink again yesterday morning, having last thought about it when lovely Molly at Mollysdailykiss mentioned it on Twitter last week. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I do remember saying that I wished all sex bloggers would write a post on their first memories of kink (I totally stand by that remark. I’m fascinated – please do leave your memories in the comments section here or write your own post and let me know where I/others can find it).

For me, tiny things can send me back to my earliest memories of kink. Yesterday was kind of a perfect storm. Seaside Slut tweeted about a dream involving having sex with a cat with good hair, and I was instantly transported back to reading Nancy Friday’s Women on Top, with its chapter on fantasies of beastiality (let me be very clear that that’s *not* my kink.) Then, clearing out the paperwork in the drawer of my coffee table, I came across a scribbled book recommendation on a scrap of paper. The book was Alina Reyes’ The Butcher, which looks like it’s out of print, but which I immediately bought secondhand on Amazon. Beautiful cover, for a start.

And in my current (non-erotica) read, I read the line ‘pinned my wrists high above my head,’ and realised that those words are *everything* to me. They’re obviously not always worded quite like that, but I know, as soon as I encounter a similar description, I’ll be instantly wet. That crude, non-kit based bondage is the key to it all.

When I was eight, I was at a tiny, tiny village school. A church school. No more than ten kids in my year group. There was a girl who worked in the kitchen, washing up. At the end of lunchtime play as she tried to leave we’d corner her and try to ask about her clothes, her tattoos, her boyfriends. She can’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen. She smoked. She was a total tomboy. She was an enigma, and therefore she fascinated us.

I say she was an enigma. That’s not quite true. Aside from her school kitchens job, she had two others. She worked in the butcher’s in town, and she babysat for a handful of us, me included. And when she babysat, she would tell stories. About the butcher.

Let’s be clear. There was nothing sexy about the butcher, nor about his shop. It was, as all butcher’s shops are, mainly white tiles, the smell of raw meat, and plastic parsley dotted everywhere. He was in his fifties, grey, red-faced and well, old, basically. Looking back, I don’t know quite what was going on between them – whether she invented the stories, whether they were seeing each other, or whether she was putting a brave face on something that was actually non-consensual and more than a bit grim. But in her stories, when they were closing up, he would chase her round the shop, pin her against the wall and try to slip something – money, I think; a tip – into the pocket of her jeans.

At school we embellished. It wasn’t money he slipped into her pocket. It was love notes, gifts. We believed our own narrative so much, we used to beg her to show us this stuff, even though it almost certainly never existed. And at home in bed, I’d take it a step further still. He’d kiss her while she was pinned there against the wall, or he’d tie her up and leave her there, just her and a load of animal carcasses in fridges, until he returned to open up the next morning.

I think I’ll enjoy The Butcher.

Wicked Wednesday: on snatched sex

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 …

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So there’s this bar…

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…

I kissed a Scot (and I liked it)

She wasn’t even a friend.

It was my parents who said I had to go – she was the daughter of one of my mum’s friends, and the family had moved to Aberdeen five years earlier.

I flew from London to Aberdeen on the worst flight I’ve ever taken. This was long before the days of budget airlines and fairly large planes on domestic routes – there were propellors and as we approached the runway at Aberdeen we had to abandon the first attempt at landing because the wind was so strong one wing looked as if it was about to touch the ground.

I was wearing court shoes I could barely walk in. I don’t remember the dress. I didn’t know anyone apart from L, her sisters and her parents.

I was 17 and I’d never been kissed.

Looking back, I think hanging out by the bar was the equivalent of hanging out in the kitchen at grown up parties. Most people were dancing, or gathered around the buffet table. I was perched on a stool, knocking back Smirnoff Ice after Smirnoff Ice.

And there was a boy sat next to me.

I can’t really recall what he looked like. He was skinny, I think, tall, and he wore glasses. We talked about what we hoped to study at uni.

The kissing too, is a bit of a blur. He leaned towards me and we snogged for a few minutes. When I surfaced, L’s mum was staring at me with barely disguised horror. She always was a bit of a judgemental cow.

The boy took my number. L wasn’t impressed, when she found out.

‘He’s a geek, ‘ she said.

Maybe. I still wish he’d texted though.

Call me

I’m not much one for phones, even though I’m retro enough to still have both landline and mobile. Sometimes when my parents call I forget you have to press the green button to answer and I find myself standing there with it held to my ear, still ringing. No, seriously.

The boy and I never spoke on the phone before he went away. Never. We made arrangements by text, discussed more complicated stuff by email. I was ok with that. I’m pretty sure I sound stupid on the phone. I can never think of what to say, especially when I first pick up. I’m always tempted to say ‘Hey!’ but then I’m basically 15-year-old me, sitting on my mum’s bed, wrapping the cord around my fingers for hours on the phone to my best friend.

I don’t know why he started calling. It just happened. I liked it. When I phoned him, it was usually to fight, but when he called, it was always more interesting, both more light-hearted and more intense. Especially once I started doing teacher training in the evenings.

I’d rarely be home before midnight and I’d be knackered, but still running with ideas. Still desperate to talk to someone, to bounce my thoughts off them. And once, maybe twice, he called at just the right time for that.

‘Yes?’ I’d say. If you don’t want to sound like a 15-year-old girl on the phone, why not aim for harassed secretary instead?

‘I was thinking about something,’ he’d say, ‘And I wondered if I could run it past you?’

I loved those conversations. I’d pad back down the stairs, with the phone tucked against my shoulder and open the fridge in the dark. Pour myself another glass of wine without turning the kitchen light on. Pad back upstairs. Put the wine on my chest of drawers and unzip my dress, chatting the whole time. Hop into bed in my knickers, asking questions, disagreeing, laughing…

We used to go on for hours like that, sometimes.

Game changer

Mini-breaks are game changers. Literature (in the loosest sense of the word) and film both tell us so.

Take Lydia in Pride and Prejudice. It’s not Wickham & co. being stationed in Hertfordshire that causes problems here. Oh no. It’s when she goes to Brighton for a spot of seabathing (I may be paraphrasing) that it all goes dreadfully wrong. And how do Wickham and Lydia get punished for their flighty behaviour? They are, according to Mrs Bennett, “banished to the North.” The death of lust is spelt out by having to spend an indeterminate amount of time in one (fairly grim) place.

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