Sunday, 30 August 2015

Review: ID Glide Lube

Clearly my girlfriend read my post yesterday, because she ended the day with her legs spread wide on the bed, supine before me. I was kneeling on the floor (a pillow cunningly cushioning my knees), experimenting with ID Glide lube.

This stuff was given out at Eroticon 2015 and it's been sitting on our bedside table ever since. While usually enamoured with Liquid Silk to get maximum lubrication, this one is intriguing - an attractive blue bottle with contours and a rather wavy design (and, oddly, a fingerprint) - and, as she handed it to me, I thought one may as well give it a go.

I haven't written a review for ages so have no idea how to do so. Ech - who cares?

Good Stuff

ID Glide is a water-based lubricant, so there's less danger of corrosion or reaction with latex if you're going to use it with a condom. It looks blue in the bottle, so I was a little disappointed to find it's actually colourless when squeezed from it - however, it's a good design and the bottle is evocative of the water base of the product itself.

It is incredibly slippery... which I suppose is the point. I used a pea-sized amount initially (like you're meant to do with a child's toothpaste) and it went quite a long way when applied to the outer lips of the vagina - added to the glistening natural lubrication of the vagina itself and you're left with something slippery wet and inviting and oh dear Lord I'll be in my bunk...

...ahem, yes, well, anyway, after a couple of small dabs of ID Glide, her vagina looked very wet indeed, soft and pink and very "apparent" among the rest of the pubic area.

It also doesn't lose its potency for a long while, retaining a pleasantly slippy-slidey feel which I took advantage of by playing around with my fingers and seeing how far I could get (net result: orgasm!). There was also very little residue afterwards, unlike some of the Durex Play lubes which leave your hands feeling sticky post-use. I could still feel the lube on me, but not in any particularly unpleasant way (although my fingers were also covered in girlcum, which may have made a difference!).

Bad Stuff

I think that without doubt the worst thing about ID Glide is the scent that it leaves on your hands after use. It's an unpleasant one - not particularly revolting, but a bit chemical and not particuarly romantic or sexual (although it's an unflavoured lube so doesn't promise anything else). I noticed this without even paying much attention to the scent, so it may be a little too apparent, depending on how receptive your nose is.

As a water-based lube, it's also water-soluble, the bottle itself suggesting that (as opposed to applying more) one can re-activate the slipperiness by adding some water. I'm not sure this is the best of ideas, as playing with water can be risky for a number of reasons, and I'd prefer to use lube that stays lubey for longer! As I said above, we didn't have a problem with this when we tested it, but the fact that it's mentioned on the bottle is worrying.

Imagine being mid-shag and having to withdraw to add a little bit of water. That'd be off-putting.

After making her orgasm, I decided to try a bit on my penis to see how it felt, and although it wasn't a pleasant sensation, I found it very difficult to stay erect afterwards. I even tried to masturbate, and found it impossible - my hands kept sliding off my shaft; I couldn't get any sort of grip on my foreskin! I do suppose that's what the effect of lube is, but I was very cheesed off at not being able to stimulate myself!

Overall Stuff

This is an okay lube. You get what you pay for, I suppose, and since I didn't pay anything for this I wasn't expecting anything in particular. On the Plusle side, it's slippy, not sticky, water-based, easy to use and effective. On the Minun, it's nothing particularly special: it's just a lube. It's not even actually blue and there's nothing special about it. Go and try some if you will - there are a lot of worse lubes out there by far - but, in my opinion, Liquid Silk is still a much better option.

If you're needing lube at all, of course.

ID Glide Lubricant is made by Westridge and available from Amazon for £5.44. Many more ID products are available from Sh! and other sex toy retailers.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

An erection with an idiot hanging off the end

I've recently been told that I may not be required at my job any more. I haven't told them that I've got an interview for another, probably better, job coming up on Monday. They still owe me two weeks' worth of money and I've told them that. I won't be able to pay any rent unless I get that money.

This is immaterial.

And, crucially, everything else I've been doing this week - fending off the boredom and trying to deal with the endless loop I'm finding myself in - has faded into one hazy, indistinct smudge. My memories are scattered everywhere; I have an indistinct jumble of names, faces and events. Did I really go on a family holiday last weekend? Why not this weekend, when there's a bank holiday around the corner? I've seen all these films - or have I? I've been to work - or have I?

I am horny.

I have been for a while. Almost constantly. More than my usual, periodic levels of sexual arousal. I feel myself getting turned on by the slightest thing. A yawn and a stretch, the generic tired feeling when I lie down for a rest, the soft flump as I sit down on a Piccadilly Line train in the mornings. When cooking food, when shopping for supplies and when I check Twitter. I find myself phasing out and back in again, accompanied by a dull throb throb throb in my trousers as I find myself getting suddenly, inexplicably, wickedly turned on.

I can feel my penis growing. No matter how tight my trousers are and how not sexy I feel (and I'm not feeling too sexy these days), my crotch feels otherwise. I can feel myself getting harder and harder and harder until I have these huge erections, warm and solid and smooth and firm, screaming at me that I really, really want to have an orgasm, and why don't I stop doing what I'm doing and have one?

And then my hips start bucking and telling me that what I really want to do is have sex, just take her in hand and give her my all, taking out all this frustration in a massive explosion of sexual intercourse, satiating my insatiable yearning cock and the burning all through my body, the fire unquenchable, the tingle unending, the need absolute.

I am a slave to my own desire. It enthralls and excites me as much as it frustrates and upsets me. I want it all, I need it all, and I have no choice. I am here and I am horny and I have been so for as long as I can remember.

Everything else is immaterial and as I stretch my arms and grasp at thin air, almost catching what isn't there but convinced I can reach it, I feel my shaft pulsating and ready to unload.

Light the fuse. Stand back. Let me go go go go go!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My Magic Box

When I was 16, I had a seven-inch box.

Head of IT at school gave it to me. It was slightly larger than seven inches squared - designed, so I was told, to hold a consignment of seven-inch vinyl singles stacked either vertically or horizontally. As she'd gotten rid of her record player and vinyl collection, she didn't need the box any more, and decided to ask her students if they wanted it. My brain, running a thought process akin to "ZOMG! FREE STUFF!", screamed at me to say that I'd take it. I did.

I had no idea what to do with it.

I had nothing seven inches long to store in it. It was, I reasoned, a very handy box to have if you have a small amount of stuff. It even had a handle so one may transport said small amount of stuff. The problem, such as it was, manifested as my not actually being possessed of a small amount of stuff to transport.

And then I got a girlfriend.

I've never particularly liked transporting a lot of stuff and I failed to see the point in taking a whole backpack just to take a minimal amount of things for a weekend in Birmingham where I wouldn't be wearing many clothes anyway. Ritualistically, I began packing my box with the bare minimum of stuff I decided that I wanted to take with me - assuming one overnight stay - one change of T-shirt, one change of underwear and one pair of socks, plus my wallet, my phone, my keys, a book and a Discman (plus about four or five CDs, some of which may be James) - this often left quite a lot of space, considering how small it was.

After a couple of months I started adding condoms.

On Friday evenings I would power-walk back from school, say hi to my gran, dump my bag in my room, grab my box and run to the station - where I'd always see (but never talk to) the RS teacher that Lightsinthesky had a crush on. I'd get to Victoria Coach Station by 5pm, box in hand, without fail. And this continued for years.

My token black friend once remarked upon the fact that I'd been seen toting my little black box to the station one evening. He had assumed (not without good reason, I suppose) that I would be taking more things to my dirty weekend breaks, and I don't blame him - but it was more than enough for me, and I was very pleased with my resourcefulness and lucky find by the end.

Eventually, of course, I ended up carrying it everywhere, with more than a few people thinking it was a bomb and one more astute person assuming I was a DJ - "no, but I know DJs," was my diplomatic answer. It finally gave up the ghost years later, when the seam ripped on an escalator in Victoria Station and I ended up cradling it in my arms like it was a wounded animal... but I continued to use it to carry things, right through to the third year of university when I put my notebooks in it, with the help of liberal amounts of duct tape.

Since then I've never found such a good receptacle for just the right amount of things, and have had to cope with more conventional means like "bags" and "pockets". But my little box will always hold, along with clothes, condoms and chromatic entertainment, a special place in my heart.

As, considering, it faciliated rather a lot.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

#familyholiday (2015 Edition)

I'm writing this from my mum's netbook (I originally wanted to try her iPad, but I've no idea how to clear internet history on Safari), rested on a huge green writing-rest, on a large oak table. As I look out of the window, I can see an endless expanse of green; I need to walk for about five minutes to get from here to my room. The house, of course, is big - very big. Much bigger than you'd think, upon seeing it from the outside.

Less than a week after moving house and I've already abandoned it, taking my customary place as one on a family holiday.

Last time I came here, I was in an intensely transitional state. I'd sort-of-but-not-yet-really started a relationship with Catherine. I didn't have a job or, really, many prospects for one in the future. After several traumatic family holidays in my mid-to-late teens, I wasn't really ready for another one, not even at 27, that lasted a whole week. I got through it, all the tears and the drama (plus the good times - there were some), through a daily ritual of masturbating the pain out and cathartic blogging. And Twitter, which helped.

That was 2011.

Four years later and this house is exactly as I remember it. Impossible to fathom in its complexity, being possessed of rooms in varying size but still cavernous enough to warrant a humming of the Luigi's Mansion music at night (I was the last person up last night). But my family has changed since - there's one new addition on my auntie's side of the family (they are all here too), my cousin with the huge boobs appears to have grown even bigger boobs since I last saw her, and I have two heavily pregnant relatives as well - both due on the same week, exactly the same week as Lovely and my friend-who-is-a-midwife (count 'em - four in one week!). Those who used to be young are now older and slightly less chaotic.

In many ways, this time everyone else is going through a transitional phase. I'm not - I'm a lot more secure in who I am and where I belong, and crucially, I'm only here for the weekend.

I still want to travel, though. I mean, I can't afford to do anything drastic, but I've done my fair amount of jetsetting this summer (like I did in 2011) and all the travelling that goes with it, and I've had moments where I miss the whole "being on the move" thing. Occasionally a song comes up on my iPod and it makes me think about those moments when, 18 years ago, I would spend my Friday nights on a bus listening to Gold Mother with the promise of sex at the end of my journey. I later did the same thing with travelling to Harrow, Croydon, Newport, Oxford, Leeds and Chelmsford (Africa doesn't count) and, each time, I loved the feeling of moving a long distance at great speed with relatively minimal effort on my part. Coupled with the anticipation and excitement (and Gold Mother) at what was to come, the travelling enthralled me. It was an escape.

And this is what this weekend, this family holiday, is. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere (read: Sussex) where I can sit on my own and read sci-fi novels, drink coffee and decompress. Where I can listen to music and play the piano if I want to, chat to my geeky cousin(s), but just take myself aside for a while and listen to the silence.

To decompress, avoid anything that I don't wish to see or do. To give myself free rein and relax within it.

And wank. Because I've been doing that too.

Obviously.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Big Love

Hello, my name is Innocent Loverboy, and I am a love-a-holic.

I love my friends, I love my girlfriend, I love my blog and I love everyone who's reading this right now. I love my cat, I love my family - in some ways - I love certain aspects of my job, I love soft porn and I love sherbet lemons. I am also learning to love (but haven't quite gotten there yet) my new flat, which is on the Piccadilly line and relatively picturesque, but also now means I am living further away from my family, some of my friends and Pandora Blake. All of whom I love.

And my office. I realised, earlier on today, that I particularly love my office.

Okay. It's not exactly my office. It's the main office of the company for which I work and, technically, there are four people in it (more if clients are with us) - but my occasionally homophobic boss has taken to simply not turning up for the majority of the day (he wasn't in at all today) and the other guy (I'm not even sure what his job title is) has another office, which he appears to basically live in. His wife is our administrator and she's busy on account of the fact that she has two small children. I'm on customer service, as well as laissez-faire admin, so I can basically run the place without any hindrance. I've been doing this for the past few days because there's been nobody else there.

It is amazingly peaceful, sitting in an empty office with a computer that has internet access. For a lunch hour (and occasional 'coffee breaks' during the day that are meant to be 10 minutes but occasionally stretch to 25), I can browse freely, with wild abandon and a total lack of restriction, and although I'm not sure I can stretch this to streaming porn (I'm not that secure I won't be interrupted), it does give me some time to read sex blogs and occasionally add comments, even responding to e-mails about sex toy testing and early-'90s softcore. As Glod is my witness, I can even write posts on my own blog in that time.

Which is glorious. I have fond memories of sitting in the computer rooms at university writing my blog - ditto the office of my old job, and the jobs immediately preceding that, and although it's not quite my old room (nothing will ever catch how perfect for blogging my old room was), there is something about being able to write about dirty sex in a place where the computer is intended for administrative purposes and multiple games of Flappy Bird which I find liberating. It allows me to retain the fact that, under it all - this slightly "fuck, I'm an adult" sheen of having a job and a flat and a collection of garden furniture - I am still pure, uncut ILB.

And ILB writes a blog.

Wherever he can.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sex Box

As I write this, I'm watching my girlfriend, Jillian, talking to my cat, Willow, on the familiar patio outside our familiar house. Everything is as I remember it: the quiet atmosphere, the aeroplanes flying overhead, the leafy green street and the very faint rumble of the main road in the not inconsiderable distance.

I am home.

And yet, starting from tomorrow, I won't be here any more. I am moving away.

Although not far away. One of my closest friends is moving to Australia in a month or so. This is different. It's about a bus ride away. I've even walked it before, although it does take about an hour (and a half if you are a slow walker). In any case, that's where we're moving. It's not a very big flat and we do have to share a kitchen... but it's a space, and it's ours, and it opens onto a garden, a big one, and so that's nice too.

It will allow us space to breathe. And also space to make love. I've even, brazenly, put a box of sex things on the bottom shelf of our bookcase - facing, on the opposite side of the room, neatly-arranged soft porn DVDs. As a reminder that this, for whatever its original purpose, is a sex blogger's room.

My mother watched as I moved the wardrobe a few inches to see if it had been gathering dust in the time the flat had been empty. It had; there was a thick grey layer on the wood-panelled floor. Evidently the landlord hadn't been around to inspect for a while, and we had a hoover ready to sweep away the dust and...

"What's that?" I pointed out.
"What?"
"That!"
My dad peered at it.
"Some sort of packet."

Recognising on sight the gaudy plastic of a condom wrapper, I bent down and picked it up.

"It's a... it's a... it's a..."
"What is it?"


I handed it to my dad.

"It's a cock ring," I confirmed.
"Vibrating Love Ring," my dad read out. "Whatever was this doing under the wardrobe? It looks unused, as well..."
"I should hope so!" I chimed in. "Whoever was in this flat before us must have had, well..."
"Unusual tastes?" suggested my mother.


I tried not to look over to the bag which contained a shedload of porn, a Lunchboxxx full of vibrators, three unopened cock rings, one penis vibe and a Doxy massager.

"Let's go with that," I said, sneaking the cock ring into my pocket, in order to have a look at later.

I can confirm it's now in my sex box.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fuckin' A

Today is, as every major news outlet will tell you, A-Level Results Day - the day when students leaving school get their papers, weep hysterically and then go home to face a barrage of comments from the media about how exams are getting too easy these days and that everyone who goes to school is a delinquent anyway. They're about to go on to do three years of a subject they'll possibly hate, then be thrust into Real Life where nobody will give them a job because they are overqualified, and will never be able to afford anything.

So much fun.

In retrospect, I didn't do too well with whatever academic potential I had. I was told, over and over again, that I'd be a high achiever throughout school, and although I cried for three days straight after getting my GCSE results (two A*s, three As and 4 Bs), they weren't bad results - I just knew I was capable of doing much better. I took my ASs just after the AS system had come in, and because that system was new, I got pathetically average grades - B, C, C, E - and the comment from my mother:

"Well, I wish I could say well done, but I can't. That's not well done."

I worked hard during my final year, knowing that I had to go to university and - due to my grades - being rejected from all of them, despite being told, two years earlier, that I was headed for Oxbridge. I retook two ASs, pushing my final grades up, and ended up getting into the only university that offered me a place - despite relatively disappointing (yet pleasingly alphabetical) A2 grades (A, B, C, D) as well.

I could have done more.

Hindsight Man comes into play here, telling me that I should have pushed harder to get into other universities. I didn't want to take a gap year, so that was out of the question, but I could have tried other things. I could have told the lady at UEA who called me to tell me my grades were too poor that I was retaking a lot (I didn't have space on my UCAS form to mention that!). I could have looked through Clearing and called some places on results day before accepting the one I'd been offered. Whatever the reason, I ended up at a university I didn't like. I did all three years - and ended up with an OK degree - but didn't have the best of times, really.

The reason, if indeed there was a reason, was that I'd kind of checked out.

For most of my A2 year, I'd been in a relationship with Rebecca, and I'd been focused almost entirely on the blur of love, sex and kitchen fudge that that relationship afforded me. I went to see her almost every weekend and didn't have much remaining time for coursework (in fact, I did about 90% of my A2 work at school, spending study periods and breaktimes in the library). Desperate to prove myself, I plowed all my effort into my schoolwork in the limited time I had available, dashed to the Midlands to sleep with my girlfriend, and bashed out all my whiny self-doubt and wistful romantic moonings onto my proto-ILB blog in the evenings.

But I think it's fair to say that my attention had shifted. After six years of almost constant crushes - although some were fairly long-term, but nevertheless - it was my turn to actually havesomeone. It just wasn't timed well and I could have coped better with managing myself in order to actually feel successful in my life.

Lord knows it'd have been the only time so far.

In any case, I was dumped about two months after starting at university for reasons still unspecified, but by this point I thought I may as well stay where I was. So I did.

Unlike the idiots who I see writing letters to the media every year on this day, I have insane amounts of respect for students getting their A-Level results. You hear about students getting really high results but bemoan the amount who don't, but there's a vague middle region who nobody ever reports upon - those who achieve intermediate results, good enough to go to university but not stellar for whatever reason. Despite indications to the contrary, this group included me - uncertain, scared, feeling unwanted by universities and inferior to my peers, and fixated on a person who was 100 miles away from me most of the time.

Add that to all that's going on at 18, including rapid development both physically and mentally, a sexual nature that is probably completely askew at this point and the feeling that one is about to tumble into the unknown at any point, and I think it's a wonder than anyone can keep it together enough to take A-Levels at all.

Nobody talks about that.

But it happens.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Soft Porn Sunday: Lisa Meagan & Robert McRay (and... Charles Martinet?)

You may well be asking yourself some things.

"Why would anyone even think of electing David Cameron?" comes to mind, as well as "what the heck was I eating last night?", "why aren't Black Widow and Hawkeye on the DVD cover of Avengers: Age of Ultron?" and "seriously, what exactly is the alto clef for?". They're all valid questions, for which I have no answer. I may as well be asking "what are Mario and Luigi saying when they banter in Italian during Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.?".

I could get the answer to that one - I'll just ask Charles Martinet, voice actor of Mario and Luigi.

I'm sure I can find him. I mean, he's right here, in soft porn.

Appearance: Compromising Situations, Series 2: "Vegas" (1995)
Characters: Mark & Marsha

Okay, pull your trousers back up before you start getting too excited about the thought of Luigi in soft porn. Charles Martinet doesn't actually have sex in the one episode of Compromising Situations he appears in; it's set in Vegas, and I'm guessing he's one of the complementary "old man who doesn't have sex" characters. One of the actors to appear in this episode is dead, so that gives you the idea of the age bracket. I'll grant you the fact that Charles Martinet probably looked younger twenty years ago, but I'm willing to go to Vegas to bet that he's not this guy:


Yahoo!

This is Mark, played by Robert McRay, who appears in a lot of episodes, always credited as "Robert Ray", which sounds like a superhero name (and, in any case, it's better than "Mario Mario"). He's here to have sex twice, once with his girlfriend Marsha (Meagan, who only appears once in Compromising Situations), who dumps him afterwards.

Harsh.

Feeling drained (I'm sorry), he takes to plumbing the depths (I'm so sorry) of Las Vegas in order to clear
Dry Dry Desert
the blockage (oh God, I'm sorry) in his mind and not have to spend the rest of his life cleaning his pipe (Jesus H. Corbett, make me stop!). He ends up tapping (aaaaaaargh!) Carol (Susan Dossetter), who I suppose he's married to - well, it is Vegas - because the camera pans to a ring on her finger in the final shot... that's not a spoiler, you're never going to find this anywhere. As such, he has two sex scenes.


Which is the average for a half-hour episode, except you usually get three in Passion Cove or Bedtime Stories and I seem to remember Compromising Situations being the same. Maybe there's another sex scene in there with the anonymous bellhop character also not played by Charles Martinet. I can't find one, if there is. But I digress.

Mark's first scene, with Marsha, is the hotter scene. Notice how I said hotter, not hot. It isn't really too arousing, really; I just think Lisa Meagan is more attractive. McRay is completely vacant throughout, so it falls to the participating actress to carry the scene forwards, which she does - albeit mostly through gurning while kissing him, riding him and ignoring the vast expanse of terrible skin the camera pans across. Well, I'm ignoring it - I'd expect she is as well.

Here we go!
There's not much else to this - she's on top and bouncing a bit, but very slowly and with incredibly perky nipples which are impossible to miss. There's some very bland and uninspired piano music with a drum machine behind it, which may well be coming from the CD player cunningly put in as a prop. It's not terrible, not really; it's just missing something, and when the synth plays in you realise that this music should really be in a swimming level of a video game, rather than a sex scene.

Please tell me they thought of that... it'd make me so happy...

In any case, there's then a brave stab at missionary, only they get that wrong too - he's just kissing her; I mean, I presume he's on top, but they're only showing his top
"Spaghetti... Ravioli..."
half and her face, so it's not really something you can tell. In most titles, missionary sex is depicted by showing the whole couple, her legs wrapped around his back or at least open - here, it's just... kind of... not shown. Yes, there are kisses. (Couples kiss during sex, who knew?) But I'd like a bit more skin in my skin flick!


I actually think the best bit is the end, with the dialogue (it's overdubbed in the clip you can watch here, although they've left the English in too, so you can kind of filter what they're saying with your ears...). There's no sex happening, but at least you've got both characters topless and talking, so you get a bit of plot. It hardly makes up for the mediocre sex scene, but at least they're naked.


So long, eh, Bowser?
This scene encapsulates perfectly what my problem is with a lot of mid-'90s soft porn. They were making so much of it then, and a lot of it's really good. This sort of scene is lazy. It's so middle-of-the-Rainbow-Road that I've not much to say about it. Lisa Meagan is very pretty; I like her hairstyle. That's... basically... it.

And, what's more, this is goodbye sex. She, at least, knows it is. If I were her, I'd be putting more effort into having great sex before saying ciao, so at least you have something to go out on!

But I can't blame the characters for this, or even the actors. It's not even that poorly directed. It's just slightly limp scripting and a totally forgettable sex scene, and what's worse, it's the better of two, with the other scene later in the episode even slower and less watchable.

But I suppose that's forgivable. If I had Mario and Luigi in my studio, I'd hardly be paying attention to what's happening on camera either.

I hope that's an acceptable answer your question: "how does ILB choose which scenes to review?". Right on the button!

Oh God, I'm really very sorry!

Friday, 7 August 2015

One foot over the line?

It's easier once you get older - or at least I've been reliably informed - to define somebody as your... well... significant other, I suppose. Do I still like "girlfriend"? Yes, I suppose I do. I prefer it, still, over "partner" for whatever weird reason I'll use to justify that preference. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The first (and only) time I asked someone out, I did the sensible thing and told someone else immediately afterwards. A few people, actually, including Lightsinthesky, Einstein, Moaner Lisa, my auntie, everyone at the Christian youth group I used to go swimming with, and some bloke I met on the street named Bernard. The last person I told, the only one who actually knew girl-who-had-a-crush-on by name, congratulated me heartily on having the courage to do so...

...and rightly so, as well; it took me about a year...

on the assumption that if she said no (which she did), then I'd have a better friend than I would have before, and if she said yes, then I'd have a girlfriend.

Which was the odd bit. I'd asked her out on a date - whatever that was - I wasn't asking her to be my girlfriend. But then, I reasoned, where was the line drawn? I'd known lots of people at my school who'd had a few "boyfriends" (and vice-versa, although most of my friends were girls), defining this as the person with whom they had been on a date with the previous night. To me, that all seemed scary. I wanted a girlfriend - of course I did; I wanted someone specific, too - but I suddenly realised that I had no idea what to do next. What, exactly, is a girlfriend?

In retrospect, I'm sort of lucky that all my relationships have been long-term ones. I've never experienced the alternative - the kind of gradual build-up towards whatever goal you're attempting to achieve - and, in some ways, I feel as if I've missed out a bit on whatever that feels like.

But I think I can guess.

In my early twenties, I had a friend who, for want of a better term, I went on dates with - which is to say, we went out together; we did things together; we saw things together. I liked her very much as a friend - she struck a chord with me that had hardly ever been struck before - but, deep down inside, I knew that I wanted something more. I never said so, of course; I don't do that, because I am an idiot. I didn't, however, want to jeopardise our friendship by saying something (what if she didn't feel the same way? how would we continue, knowing that one of us wanted more?), so I kept quiet about it.

So we were very couple-y, without being a couple. I remember lying on her bed, holding her as she fell asleep (and then going to the next room to sleep on my own). Her with her head on my lap in Regent's Park, discussing the virtues of jazz violin and the incantation to release Etrigan the Demon. Being taken to a coffee shop to drink a coffee, and ending up in a cuddle that lasted about two hours, plus a milkshake.

And kisses. We kissed. Not a full-on kiss with tongues. Friendly ones. But kisses, nonetheless.

However, we were never a couple. Never. We were asked, several times, how long we'd been together - by a comedian once, I remember - but we both categorically denied it: we were friends, we were just friends: close, but just friendly people who were friends.

I was very vocal in denying it. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

This thought was brought back to me during that last insightful conversation at 'con last week. How do you define, whether in your teens or in these slightly older (but not yet wiser) years, who your significant other is - specifically if it's an unspoken thing?

With my friend, our actions belied what our voices said. But, among all the meetings that went nowhere, mutual appreciation of Simon Pegg and laissez-faire IT advice through to my crying while listening to Tim Booth on the night bus home, there was certainly something that wasn't happening.

One foot over the line, maybe. But I still never took the great leap forwards.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

#Eroticon2015: I'm going to hug you now, okay?

The sun shone down on Bristol as I arrived, and the sky wept as I left. I arrived at the Radisson Blu and checked in without any problems (incredibly gratefully, since I was scared that I didn't have the money after all), and the room and the facilities promised to be awesome, as they always are, and of course, they were.

The venue was lovely and all the sessions I visited - whether helpful, fun, useful, insightful or scary (most are a mix) - were incredbly well-run. I didn't mind the slightly shorter running times; everything was well-organised and Ru was at the top of her game. Eroticon looked to be awesome, as it always is, and of course, it was.

So why did I feel so uncomfortable for the whole first day?

It's my fault. From the very start, when I emerged from the lift to grace the pre-conference drinks, I was surrounded by people I know - to varying degrees and in various capacities, to be fair, but nonetheless, I know them, and by and large I love them all. I remember being, given how I usually am, about as open and friendly as is possible at Eroticon 2013 and 2014, and given that some (realistically, most) of my old crowd weren't going to be around, I was all ready to re-connect with those I do know, and also with those I know anyway, but hadn't met yet (for that is the beauty of blogging).

And I didn't. At least, I sort of did. But I didn't do so in my usual way. I suddenly began to doubt myself. I didn't talk much to anyone, and then so briefly, and I realised that I was thinking of myself as a bad friend, someone there because they are, not because they are wanted or anything.

And I had gradually increasing amounts of self-doubt throughout the entire first day. I acted and chatted, guardedly, with a lot of people - practically everyone - feeling more like a nuisance than a genuine presence. I shared smiles and waves with people I didn't even think wanted to be acknowledged by me in more ways than a sideways glance or a cursory nod. At breaktimes, when I used to interact as much as possible, I stood in the corner and ate my sandwiches on my own.

All while enjoying the sessions. I adored Ru's welcoming speech. I was reasonably chatty throughout the writers' panel. I laughed and applauded with everyone else at GOTN's talk (which was actually the best session of the weekend). I learned lots at the critique session, had some dangerous ideas in the self-publishing workshop, and was actually genuinely fascinated at the kinkbooth in the evening, despite it not being my thing: I genuinely couldn't look away.

So I still wasn't sure about how I felt by the time the cocktail party rolled around. I was enjoying myself but feeling morose, and I was looking forward to socialising, but since you can't hear anyone doing anything at all at Revolution on a Saturday night (our young raver's 21st, alo at Revolution, was largely the same affair) I didn't end up doing much of that either. It looked like it was going to be a miserable evening for me...

...heading back to the Radisson was genius.

And, suddenly, everything slid into place like a flat Tetrad completing a row of four. In the same area surrounded by the same people, but this time, I was ready for it. And I sat and I talked and I drank and I chattered and I even apologised profusely to someone (you know who you are!) who, as it turned out, I genuinely didn't need to apologise to at all, despite the fact that I'd spent a day and a half feeling like I needed to. And by the time midnight came, and after an inordinate amount of gossip, snacks and a seemingly endless line of drink, I went back to my room... feeling like I belonged for the first time.

The second day went like a dream. Dirty Talk had me getting my inner actor on; Michael and Molly's blogging workshops were useful, informative and terrifying; Zac's erotica slam talk reminded me of how much I like erotica slams; I even sat in on the first five minnues of Ru's newsletters session before I remembered I'd promised to be elsewhere (but what little I saw seemed good!). The readings were the best we've ever had at Eroticon and I ended up having sex that night, so yeah, that's good too.

And feeling much more comfortable on that day just made it all seem better.

I talked at a session earlier on in the summer about how stories always have a beginning, a middle and an end. For whatever reason, Eroticon was both bookended and bisected by drinks at the Radisson Blu. For me, the beginning was difficult but expectant, the middle was relaxing and recumbent, and the end was sitting in a small circle bantering with Jilly and Exhibit A and GOTN and Horny Geek Girl.

And do you know what? That's what it's all about, really. That's right. That's okay.