Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Beautiful Music

As the band packed up their instruments and began to trundle away in their various cars, I fell into stride beside Karolina. She was beautiful - with the perfect nose, bright blue eyes and golden hair tied into an elegant knot, but still falling down to her shoulders like a waterfall. Like me, she'd just finished university, and like me, she'd discovered this little orchestra who handily rehearsed in the church five minutes' walk from my house. She lived on the other side of town, which was a little bit of a walk away.

We got talking, something we didn't do much during rehearsal, since I sat at the back row of the violins with the ad libitum parts, some of which I'd scored myself, and her fingers danced across the piccolo across the circle. We occasionally shared a smile - sometimes a wink, occasionally a note - but very few words.

We discussed music - what we liked, what we disliked, and what got us into our chosen instruments. I shared stories of the band I was in at university, and the society I helped found in my final year, sketching bass clefs onto whiteboard in meeting rooms and taking minutes in musical shorthand. She told me of the times she had spent in her room in university hall, twittering her way through musical scores which she picked up second-hand from charity shops. Once everyone else was out of sight, we sang the title song from Fiddler on the Roof to each other. I was amazed she knew the words, since they're not sung in the musical.

We harmonised well.

As we were walking in the direction of town, I suggested we get a coffee. Starbucks would still be open; we were young and silly, and although we both had work in the morning, it wasn't that late. So we walked down the tree-lined road, up the alleyways that provide a handy shortcut into town, and perched on stools with vanilla lattes, our instruments making love on the floor beside us. The conversation flowed freely - the laughter too. At this late hour, people were beginning to trickle away, and for a while, we were in our little bubble, the sparkle of her eyes reflecting my nervous brush-back of my hair which, I noticed, I was doing a little too much.

We stayed out far too late and waltzed back to her tiny flat near the train station on the hill. Where once we were waxing lyrical, now we were virtually silent. The door closed; our instruments leaned up against the wall. Our bodies met; her opal kisses tasted like vanilla, strawberry and excitement, with a hint of crescendo. A laugh, a smile, a breath and a tumble, and she fell backwards onto her bed, landing like a soft stick on a timpani. She hitched up her skirt; I tugged at my belt. She bit her lip as I sank my cock into her, her eyelids fluttering closed as her body relaxed around me. I moved inside her, gentle deliberate strokes, her giggles fluttering into my ear as I took breaths as deep and measured as I could.

Moving in rhythm... from the rehearsal room to the bedroom.

We awoke, kissed, dressed, and walked hand-in-hand to the station. I waved her farewell as she joined the stream of commuters heading into London; I turned to make my way to work - on foot, since I'd left my bicycle at home. Violin in hand, I sang softly to myself as I made my way up the hill, a soft glow illuminating my path in the dawn's misty light.

Karolina and I walked around town almost every night - sometimes going for a drink, sometimes just sitting in the park or watching the ducks on the river. We almost always went back to her little flat to make love. Occasionally, we would play music together. We always went to band practice, but this time we talked during the interval. I never told anyone else about her.

I never told anyone else about her, because she didn't exist.

And this time, I didn't want to. She was my secret girlfriend - the one I created. I carried her around like a light in my heart: a secret that I didn't have to feel guilty about. Someone I could talk to, share my stories with, and feel close to. I would walk to band practice every Wednesday, play my part, and then take her hand and walk home.

Say hello to my parents, make a hot chocolate, lie back on my own bed, close my eyes... and walk off into the night with Karolina, always ready to share one more adventure.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Fair Trade

I was lost.

Through the miasma of backstreets and alleyways with sex shops I didn't recognise, the steady heat beat down upon Soho like a drum. After my relatively unsteady day, I was looking forward to escaping the sun via the Underground and dragging my way home. I didn't know exactly where I was, but was fairly sure I was heading in the right direction.

"Excuse me, sir?"

I froze like a rabbit caught in headlights, the small plastic bag which held my sister's birthday present loosely hanging from my right hand. Turning to the right, from whence the voice had hailed, I saw a blonde woman beckoning me forwards.

"Are you looking for a girl? I have some lovely girls."
"Oh!" I almost laughed, relieved that I wasn't in any particular danger. "No, thank you."
"Are you sure?" she pressed.
"Yes, I'm perfectly sure, thank you," I said politely. "But thank you for asking."

It was only at this point that I realised this was the first time I had ever been in such a situation. I was also slightly bamboozled by our location - the back entrance to Westminster Kingsway College. As the summer holidays are on, this may have been a less active building than usual, but surely there would have been some activities going on? It was an odd place to solicit from, but I suppose if you're going to do it somewhere...

I still wasn't sure how to react.

"I've got some boys too!" she pressed. "Some very nice boys, if you want."
"Oh, no, no," I replied. "No, I'm into girls, but I just don't want to... I mean, you know, I like girls, but I... I have one."

In fact, I'm just coming from dropping her off at work. This morning, as we lay entwined with her hand wrapped around my throbbing penis, I didn't want to ever let her go. 

"Well, what about a nice massage, then? You don't even need to have sex, you can just get a massage from one of the girls..."

However uneasy I felt, I couldn't fault her sales pitch. It was classic patter - get the customer talking, offer something they don't want, and then something they do. And, when it comes down to it, I have nothing at all against prostitution. But I really didn't want to get into a conversation about what I did and didn't want. I'd have been wasting her time, if nothing else.

"No, I'm sorry, but thank you. I'm in a bit of a hurry..."
"You're a bit high?"
"No, I'm in a hurry, a bit of a hurry," I said, beginning to move away. "I'm sorry," I added, even though I wasn't, really. I always feel a little guilty for not buying things.

"OK, well, thanks for stopping!" she said, a little too brightly.

I walked across the street, but just before I turned a corner, I looked back.

"But thank you!" I finished with, unsure as to why I was saying that. "Thank you very much!"

And I scuttled away, emerging onto Regent Street at last.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Life Lessons

"You can be really dirty sometimes."
"Yeah, 'course I can. Everyone can be."
"You've got a long-term boyfriend," I pointed out. "You've probably got a lot more experience than the rest of us."

At which point I stopped saying anything. Lightsinthesky had just walked in and I certainly didn't want to hear about how much experience he had.

"Yeah. I'm probably going to marry him, too."

Unlike some of the other upper-sixth-formers taking more ASs, she was less of an enigma. In bigger AS classes, we usually had one or two - older ones, usually girls, taking on a different subject in order to get another qualification. In our English class, we had one I never really talked to, because I couldn't remember her name. For a while, I thought it might be Urethra. This one, however, was in our Philosophy class, which consisted of five. We were a tight unit - me, Lightsinthesky, two smart girls who we got on well with, and her. She was part of us, and when she'd left in our second year, we generally felt bereft.

She was, of course, incredibly good-looking. Lightsinthesky looked upon her with barely-disguised lust. I just thought she was a nice girl... with her dirty moments.

Lightsinthesky had entered the room with one of the other members of the class - the one who decided she'd evolved from a sheep rather than a hominid, and ended up getting straight As in her A2s.

"No, hang on, it's got to be three."
"Two, surely?"
"I thought it was three."
"My mum told me it was two?"

"Your mum's wrong."
"Mums are never wrong."

"Hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up, hold up," I said, although I probably didn't say that. "What's all this, then?" Only I probably sounded less like a policeman. I think I probably said something like, "Huh?". Or maybe I didn't say anything at all.

"How many holes does a girl have?" he asked. "I thought it was three, but she says it's two."
"I think it's three," I said.
"But she's a girl, so she should know."
"No, it's three," our upper sixth colleague pointed out. One here..." which she pointed...

" here..."

...she demonstrated...

"...and one here."

All with a dazzling smile.

"Hey, guys, what are you talking about?" asked our teacher as she bustled in with what looked like the Dead Sea Scrolls cradled in her arms.
"How many..." started Lightsinthesky, before I trod on his foot and he stopped talking.
"It's fine," I said, "it's a question that's been answered." And I sat down, got out my books, and made a mental note to have a word with the Biology department.

Monday, 7 August 2017


An image came to me last night. Just an image from the past. Dream ILB took to Google, but couldn't find a copy of the picture, and although Real ILB has also just done so, he can't find the picture either. The last time it was available was in 2000, so maybe that goes some way to explaining why.

In 2000 I was young, horny and slightly foolish. But then I expect we all were at 15. I had a rampant imagination and unbridled creativity, which helped in some situations, although not others - especially when an acquaintance on ICQ (yes, really, ICQ) gained a girlfriend, of sorts, and started bragging. Bragging, you know, about the things an imagination doesn't really want to conjure up. At 15, although going through a sexual awakening - albeit slowly - I still thought masturbation was disgusting, found the idea of blowjobs repellent, but was desperate for a girlfriend, although having never kissed a girl.

Into this mass of contradictions, introduce a bundle of acquaintances - friends of a friend - many of whom I ended up meeting, however briefly, at a few student parties years later. They all went to the same school - a selective grammar for boys - which seemed a world away from my mixed-sex, mixed-ability comprehensive. Despite the fact that they all seemed to assume that I'd be doing a lot of rampant shagging due to having girls my age around on a daily basis, this was clearly untrue. Exactly how much the bragging one had actually done was all conjecture.

Humble though I may have been at the time, I wanted to be able to brag too.

In Summer 2000, I chanced upon an opportunity. In the pages of the Telegraph (don't judge me, it was my grandparents' copy) I chanced upon a little article concerning an undergraded A-Level paper and the girl who had almost missed out on a university place as a result. An image accompanied it - the same image I recalled last night - of the girl in question. She was stunning - a remarkably normal-looking girl with a slightly haughty, unimpressed look on her face. Beautiful hair held back by a band, nice stance and figure, and (let's not forget it) incredibly large breasts, under which she had crossed her arms, lending them even more support. Behind her were shelves upon shelves of books.

Which is the best thing about any picture, really.

Taken by her looks, her attitude, and her intelligence - confirmed by the article - I quickly convinced myself that she was my dream girl. Fair enough, she was three years older than me and over one hundred miles away, but none of this mattered. I wasn't going to actually try to meet her.

And so, for the first time in my life, I had an imaginary girlfriend. Her geeky, smart, sexy intelligence was the envy of my ICQ buddies. They were jealous of the fact that my parents let her stay over, that we had kissed, and taken in by the romantic way we met - in a library, because books are sexy. Of course, none of them knew that she was completely invented, but as the days went by, even I was somewhat taken in by whatever glimmered behind the softcore sheen. The bragging guy stopped bragging; the others were all impressed; I was satisfied. I'd managed to get a girlfriend completely out of my imagination.

It all got a little too real when one of them asked if I had a picture.

Of course I had a picture - it was in the newspaper. But, as I let my eye rove from the page I'd kept to my flatbed scanner (yes, flatbed scanner), I shook myself briefly from the anxious excitement I'd found myself in. This is a picture of a real girl, I told myself. All I've done so far is appropriate her name and made up a person. I can't use her picture, surely.

"I bet my girlfriend's better-looking than yours," the bragging guy said.

And so I did a terrible thing.

"Wow, she's a very attractive girl! Why aren't you fucking her?"
"We're both underage," was my honest(ish) reply.

Weeks passed. Now I'd actually got her picture on my computer, things started spiralling out of control. I carried on the story, shared details I made up on the spot with all and sundry, and shared her picture - but, every time I did so, I felt a pang of guilt. This poor girl had a tiny spot in a newspaper for almost failing to get into university because exam boards suck, and here was this 15-year-old kid, using not just her name, but her mugshot... pretending to be with her.

I knew, from the very first moment, that what I was doing was wrong. I was lying, and I generally don't tend to lie. But I'd had enough of everyone else's bragging, the burgeoning sexuality of everyone my age, and the constant crushes I had at school which never came to anything - I wanted to feel the exhilaration of love, so I invented someone to love. I never dreamed that I'd lose control of the situation.

But sometimes things have got to stop.

"I've been forced to break up with her," I said to one of my buddies on ICQ. "I don't want to talk about her again."
"Why? Why 'forced'? But you love her!"

Good question. Think your way out of this one, ILB.

"She's moved to the Isle of Wight," I lied smoothly. "Her dad got a new job and moved there, so she's on the island. I think she has a new boyfriend down there, too." This, too, was based on a real person - a good friend from school, who had been in the very same situation. I had difficulty adjusting to him not being around, but because it had happened, it seemed a plausible enough excuse. The guy who I was talking to swallowed it, and I suppose the (fake) news spread, because people stopped asking me leading questions. I also made sure to delete her picture, and asked everyone else to delete it too.

I'm so relieved that this little venture didn't involve Lightsinthesky.

About a month later and things were continuing as normal. I had another crush at school, the usual ICQ talk had reverted back to bragging and hackery, and my ruse of an imaginary girlfriend had been all but forgotten. I still felt guilty about it - I hadn't intended to deceive anyone; I just got carried away - but I supposed that, in time, people would forget.

"Hey, have you heard from [her name] recently?" asked one of my friends on ICQ, two months later.
"She doesn't exist," I admitted.
"Oh. Okay."

Really? It was that easy?!

And so ends the tale of my first, completely fictional, girlfriend. It began with a name, continued with an image, and ended with a guilt-ridden exorcism and an admission of sin. Even now, I still visualise her picture in my head - long deleted, of course - and feel the guilt and the glee come back in one huge rush.

One year passed as I knew it would... and then, of course, I invented another one.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


"So what did you do to get past that firewall?"
"Eventually? I used a VPN, which took some doing, as all the VPN sites were blocked too."
"Why did you need to get past it anyway, if Google and Wikipedia were open?"
"First of all, half of Wikipedia was blocked. Google was also blocked, and I couldn't read any blogs, or update my own. It was written well in advance - I just couldn't update."

"Oh, you blog?"
"What do you blog about?"


"Can I read anything you've written? Maybe I've already read you, I read a lot of blogs."
"Oh, maybe you have. Uhm... do you read Girl on the Net?"
"What? No. I don't know who she is."
"Then you probably won't have read me."
"Oh, is she your boss?"
"What? No! She's just a friend."

"Then why do you say that?"


"Am I on your blog?"
"No, not really."
"Is anyone here on it?"
[ILB scans the room, taking in Einstein, the young raver, friends-who-are-teachers-midwives-and-nurses, Mane, Mane Jr., scene girl, and all their relevant significant others...]
"A couple of people, yeah."
"Can you read me something from it, at least?"
[ILB does so. It's relatively clean.]
*Laughter* "Are you going to write anything about tonight?"
"Of course not."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Change of Heart

"Are you going to Michelle's party?" asked Blaine, relatively innocently considering Blaine's usual demeanour. Friends though we may have been, I was surprised he was talking to me at all; he usually spent 23 out of his 24 hours per day playing Counter-Strike, the remaining one devoted mostly to sleeping. How he managed to stay enrolled at university, much less get a hot girlfriend, I've no idea. Good genes, or a lot of luck, or something.

I had my soft porn; I'm not complaining (much).

Was I going to Michelle's party? I had been invited, although not officially. But then, this was a party organised by a university student, so it wasn't overly likely to have had any sort of official invite. It was her 21st - she'd probably been inviting everyone.

"I'm not sure," I said, truthfully. I hadn't given it a lot of thought. "I might be away or something, let me check. Are you going?"
"I'm not sure," he replied. "I'll go if you'll go."

I checked.

"I'm not doing anything," I said. "I'll fortunately be able to go. Will you come along?"
"Fortunately, eh?"
"Yeah... why...?"
"Hey, ILB. You don't fancy Michelle, do you?"

At which I was more than a little blindsided. Did I fancy Michelle? I'd been sitting next to her in lectures, sure, but only because I knew her a little, and moreso than others. But then, I reasoned, I sat next to Claire, and I fancied her, and to Kat, and I fancied her too. And Caroline, who I also fancied, and occasionally Sarah. Who I fancied. I didn't fancy Lisa, however, which was odd, because everyone else did.

Michelle...? Again, I'd never given it much thought. Michelle was a nice girl. Quiet, but perceptive and very good at her chosen subject. She'd always been nice to me, and I'd been polite and pleasant in turn, discussing history with her and not turning away when she sneezed all over her hands and didn't have a tissue to spare. But I'd never considered the idea of having a crush on her before. I certainly didn't.

Before I opened my mouth, my mind spun an intricate fantasy in which I did fancy Michelle. In an instant, it seemed less like an impossibility, and more like an opportunity. 

"Okay! Maybe I do fancy Michelle! And maybe I'll go to her party and I'll pull her, and then I'll finally have my first kiss in years, and a girlfriend afterwards! And maybe this is my chance, and maybe she fancies me too, and this is why she invited me to her party!" I didn't say. It was part of my thought process, perhaps, but it didn't come out of my mouth. I was, however, vaguely aware of the fact that Blaine was still standing there, waiting for an answer.

"I'm not sure," I said, truthfully. "Do I fancy Michelle?" Which was, perhaps, the worst possible thing to say, as I'd just invited Blaine, my friend in a relationship with Sarah, who was friends with Michelle, to pass on the idea that I had a crush on someone who, up until a few seconds ago, I didn't have a crush on. It wouldn't be the first time that Blaine had shared such information.
"Do you?"
"Maybe! I guess, perhaps, I don't really know if..."
"Okay, so I'm going to the party!"

I didn't go. Neither, in fact, did Blaine. I went to Canterbury to see 47; he spent his evening playing Counter-Strike.

I got a first in the module, but after that, I never saw Michelle again.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Swing when you're winning

For a relatively long time - at least, relatively long by his terms - Lightsinthesky was in a relationship with an inexplicably hot girl named Jazz. She was a beauty - olive skin; long, dark, shiny hair; lovely white smile. In fact, I never saw her do anything but smile; she didn't appear to have a voice, other than the occasional nervous giggle. But then, hang around with my school friends, and you'd be nervous too.

She was also, apparently, very good in bed, although I only have Lightsinthesky's word on that, which may be unreliable (he'd spent the last seven years of his life trying to get laid; the fact that he'd recently started having sex was nothing short of a miracle for him); he did, however, manage to make it apparent to the rest of us.

"I hope she gets pregnant," muttered my token black friend resentfully after the four-thousandth "JUST HAD SEX!" text pinged through onto his 'phone.

As the upper sixth rolled around, my token black friend started to get a little more depressed about not being in a relationship himself. Lightsinthesky still had Jazz, as he'd tell anyone who listened, and I had Rebecca. Music Man, always an attractive lad, had girls swarming around him like bees around a honeypot, and despite my thinking it was never going to happen, it certainly did seem like more and more of us were courting.

"Despite being the first of us here to lose my virginity," my friend sulked, "I'm not getting any sex right now. The rest of you -" (I suspect this was a paraphrase, as Einstein certainly wasn't, and Man o' War also wasn't, although not for lack of trying) "- are. Not that I begrudge you or anything, but..."

"Fancy a bit of Jazz?" interjected Lightsinthesky blithely.
"Yeah, all right!"
Lightsinthesky raised a hand to his lips and air-trumpeted When The Saints Go Marching In.

Or so the story goes. You see, that final bit of wondrous wit and ready repartée is apocryphal. I wasn't actually there.

I just heard about it. Several hundred times.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


For two weeks, I am silent.

It's an odd feeling. I've been writing this blog for nine and a half years. At Eroticon this year I ran a session about how to keep writing blog posts. I have been trying, using each one of my methods, to keep writing at least one a week during the months afterwards - ideally more than one. Two. Three. I'd post every day if I could. I should.

And then I come here and I sit behind a firewall which blocks everything. Not just Blogger - but Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Skype, IRC, and so many others. I have no idea how the staff cope. I'm only here for a month.

So I open Notepad. I write a couple of blog posts. I'll post them, I tell myself, when I get around this block. There's a way around it - there's always a way around it. Well-meaning people tell me of VPNs, or proxy bypassing sites, or tunnels. They are all blocked. I cannot view them; I cannot download anything. My usual tunnel - through 47's server - is not available, even if through some miracle I remember to have PuTTY here (whether it can connect, however...).

Two increasingly desperate weeks pass and I manage to get around the block. It's a fluke, and it's unstable, but I don't care. This is my dad's old laptop; mine is safe back home. I can read sex blogs; I can download porn if I want to. I can post my blog. I can go on IRC. I can even browse Tumblr - not that I do that very often, but still.

My fingers hover over the keys. What do I blog about? The sex I've been having? No, I haven't been having any. Recent sexual happenings? I'm not sure there have been any. Sex news? I haven't read any - I've been blocked. Shock revelations? I don't know. There's been a game of I Have Never recently, but there's nothing new there. It's hardly a surprise, really, for a sex blogger to say that he's had sex in a stationary car, or a disabled toilet, or by the side of a swimming pool. Not that anyone here knows I'm a sex blogger, of course.

So what do I say? What do I do? I want to blog... but how?

Paper. Pencil. Get some ideas down, ILB. Sort through your dickbrain and your Rolodex of memories. There's got to be something. Something. Anything.

Halfway through a morning of work I start jotting down some ideas for tweets. It's a start. Later in the day, I get a cup of tea and a biscuit, I sit down and I start to write. It's far from perfect... but I am writing.

I am very tired this month. I am working hard. Too hard. Everyone here is - with no space to breathe or time to spare. I'm not horny, or excited, or enthused. I am burning out. Yes, yes I am.

But if I can write... then that's one thing to which I can cling.

Thursday, 20 July 2017


"Okay, so this is the sign we're going to hold up," said the 15-year-old set artist, "during the sex scene. Obviously, we can't show them going to bed, because..."
"...because everyone's going to be underage?" I offered.
"Oh, yeah..." he said, as if he hadn't considered that possibility. "We're going to show a kiss - a real one - and then hold this sign in front of the actors."

He held up a piece of sugar paper on which he'd written "CENSORED" in huge letters, covered in smiling hearts and with a loading bar at the bottom captioned BABY LOADING: 30%. Once I got over the impact of the thing, it was genuinely amusing.

"All right, show me what you've got."

Two 16-year-old actors took their place on stage while the Joker and Harley Quinn watched from the wings. Strange times indeed.

"Maybe one of you should put your feet up on another chair?" I proferred. "Look more relaxed, since you're waiting for your lover to come in."

The girl playing the sexy temptress attempted to do so and immediately looked like she was in a lot of pain. I dithered for a while, wondering whether to call someone from the medical team, when one of the writers - a queer femme visionary with the "Coexist" tattoo and a penchant for attacking people with felt tips - walked on and casually adjusted her legs.

"That's much better," she said. "Thank you."
"No problem," said the writer. And took a bow as the other actor walked back on and nearly collided with her.

I have no idea whose pocket the condom fell out of, but everyone looked at me with barely-disguised horror.

"No, no, it's fine," I said coolly, as somebody opened their mouth to probably give some sort of explanation. (It's only right to take condoms with you when travelling, anyway.) "It's always good to be prepared. Better put that back into your pocket, though, before the director comes along."

"What's this?" said the director, coming along.
"Rehearsal," I shrugged, truthfully.
"Can I see it?"

There was a very long pause during which everyone on stage - actors, writers, co-directors, set designers and the one girl who didn't appear to have any set role - looked at me.

"...No," I answered.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sounds of our Lives


It's most definitely coming from the flat with the light on and the open window. There's nowhere else it could be coming from. Even if the direction wasn't clear enough, you could tell. Everyone can hear it, from those waiting with me at the bus stop to the shopkeepers and curious patrons in the little parade directly below said flat (and those adjoining it).

Last week. I'm visiting home for the weekend to collect some cuddles from my girlfriend, sort out some stuff I forgot to the first time around and say general hellos... but, if I'm being honest, mostly in order to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. We meet, we dine, we see said arachnid-based film, and we stop at the little supermarket to get some incredibly sinful food. Back to the bus stop outside, silence falls, and...


Everyone looks uncertain. But, to be fair, it's almost midnight. People in flats are allowed to have sex, I'm sure. And people having sex are allowed to be loud. It's basically the only time one is. And it's summer, so of course the windows are open. Of course they are.

I glance at her. I'm about to say something, although I'm not sure what yet. She places a finger to her lips to shush me. Like me, I'm assuming, she wants to hear more. The older people around us look uncomfortable; a little grin is unfurling on my own face. I know what this sounds like. And I know what the increase in volume, pitch, and frequency means. I'm even trying to visualise the scene, even if that makes me feel a little too sordid.

Fuck it, I'm on holiday. You go, girl.

Swish! Thwack!

At this we shoot a look at each other. A knowing, familiar look. "Was that a spank?" I mouthed at her, still not daring to make a sound, lest I should be heard... or my voice drowns out the next sound.


There's a pause, heavy in the summer night air. A cricket chirps somewhere. I am still.


Okay, now I certainly don't want my bus to come. Unintentional or not, I have become an auditory observer. If there's going to be a grand finale, I want to be there for it. wrong as that may seem. It's not me who left the window open, after all.

There follows about a minute of gleefully uncomfortable silence. The shoppers opposite us are still going about their business; the guy smoking directly below The Flat Of Sex takes a drag on his cigarette and exhales. I'm listening intently, grasping my girlfriend's hand. I take a glance at the little LED display that tells me our bus is one minute away. For a moment, I think it has all finished, without me realising.

And a most curious sound rings out from the open window. A heavy, soft swoosh followed by a firm, wet thud.


Leather flogger? No. Riding crop? No, that's not the right sound. Palm of a hand? No - I've just heard that and it makes a different noise. Cat-o'-nine-tails? I'm not sure I even know what that one sounds like.

Rubber paddle?

Immediately before I can offer this assumption, our bus pulls up. I get on - running the gauntlet between anxiety and amusement. With the tiniest dash of admiration, of course. Unsteadily I weave my way to the back of the bus, and flop down onto one of the worn seats. I'm giggling like James from Team Rocket.

"Rubber paddle?" I finally venture.
"I was more that a little tempted to applaud," I wheeze, and then settle back, trying to bring myself back from the brink of rêverie.
"You applaud and you're not allowed to write about this."

Which is a joke, of course. We all know I'm going to write about this.