"How's your knowledge of British seventies sex comedies?" asked my friend.
I hadn't expected him to ask this, but then again, if I had to pick any one of my friends who would ask that question, it would be this guy. His walls are practically made out of piles of British comedy in VHS format. I think he sneezed once and they had to get a JCB to dig him out. Why he was casually asking me that question, though, I don't know - although he hadn't exactly asked the wrong person. It doesn't take a genius to work out that I do, in fact, have a rather extensive knowledge of British sex comedies. I've watched enough of them.
As the question hung in the digital ether in front of me, I allowed myself a few seconds' hesitation to craft a reply. My fingers twitched before falling to the keyboard. What, exactly, was I meant to say?
"Why, yes, of course I do. I used to wank to some of the scenes when I was 14."
"What sort of sex comedies? Do they have to be from the Seventies?"
"I've seen a few, but not many."
"What's a sex comedy?"
Feeling that I really ought to say something, I dragged my fingers across the keys, and flashed him a reply.
"What do you want to know?"
"Well, there are these available on eBay for... [Some small amount of money. I can't recall exactly, but this guy doesn't buy anything that's over 99p. He haggles in charity shops.] ...and I wanted to know if they were worth it." Dude, you watch Open All Hours. Of course these will be worth it. "Which ones?"
He reeled off a list. I started to type a remark that the Confessions films were conspicuous by their absence, but then I remembered he'd already got them. Nevertheless, I recognised most of the titles. This, then, brought up the question of exactly how much I could say without letting on that I'd liked these films a little too much.
"Well," I said carefully, "Adventures of a Taxi Driver isn't funny. The Amorous Milkman isn't funny. The Ups and Downs of a Handyman..." I paused. "...has a good theme tune, but isn't funny." Another pause. "There isn't any sex in it either."
I wondered idly if that mattered to him. It probably didn't, but then again, 21-year-old friend is different from 14-year-old ILB. He probably had a different reason for getting the films. When there wasn't any response from him, I carried on.
"Rosie Dixon: Night Nurse is worth it for the sex," I finished. This was, of course, a lie. But I needed to say something other than "...isn't funny." And I couldn't very well have said, "...made me orgasm even though it's not actually meant to do that."
And now, years on, I still wondered how much of a contribution my carefully restrained comments made to his decision. He bought them all anyway. But then again, I knew he would to begin with.