Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Pay for your porn? Work for your orgasm.

The recent news that someone posted Boris Johnson's victory speech on Pornhub has got me thinking - although not, I'm pleased to confirm, about Boris Johnson. But about porn.

I have, once, ordered hotel porn. I was staying on my own in a hotel room (probably one of a very few times I've stayed in a hotel!) in Nottingham - why I was there, I don't quite remember. Maid Marian Way (one of the main thoroughfares in Nottingham) had - it may still have, I don't quite remember - a Holiday Inn Express on the corner, which is where I stayed. I showed up, got a room, checked in... and only after getting to my room did I realise that I'd just paid far too much for one night. I made the decision, there and then, to make the best of it.

So I wrote out all the words to Shpadoinkle! from Cannibal! The Musical and left them around the room for the housekeeping staff to find. I went down to the bar to get a drink and nominated the girl behind the counter for a guest service award (and, eventually, wrote a song about her). I played on the trivia machine and ended up on the high-score table. I filled out all the guest satisfaction surveys before actually getting into my bed. I took a shower using all the free things in the bathroom.

And I ordered porn.

I'd never watched a porn channel, so I didn't know what to expect (or how long the porn would be on for). What I got was a series of five-minute vignettes which depicted sex happening (sans plot or character development; it's five minutes, you don't have much). Many of the scenes were lesbian, at which I was genuinely surprised (I ordered "porn", I assumed that the scenes would all be straight unless you specified otherwise). None of them were particularly good.

But the fact that I was watching porn in a hotel room was exciting enough. I perched on the very edge of my bed, naked, with the window open and the curtains not drawn, and masturbated frantically, pushing myself as hard as I could. I knew this wasn't the sort of thing I usually watched, but I was certainly hard enough, and the throbbing was becoming unbearable; what else was I supposed to do? I masturbated hard, and fast, growling through my teeth, from my vantage point at the end of my bed.

I came spectacularly, all over my hand, my thighs and the towel I'd placed on the floor (forward planning plus plus...) and lay back on my bed in a heap, riding out the waves of my orgasm, awash in the sounds of sex filling the room as the porn played on in the background.

I left the TV on as I (eventually) made my way to the bathroom to clean up. As I saw it, I'd paid for the porn, so I was going to leave it on. I did. It was still on as I showered, cleaned my teeth, towelled off and slipped into the (mercifully cool) bed. It was still on as I read the book I'd brought with me, and muted as I called my parents. And I left it on... on until the porn I'd paid for ran out and the TV turned it off. My porn stayed on for as long as it could.

Just how long that is I'll never know. I was asleep before it ended.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

INnocent LovEUboy

On Friday morning I called work and told them that I had a sticky throat and that it hurt to talk. They gave me the day off and sent me something to do from home, which I duly did, after about an hour and a half of crying. Loud, racking sobs, squeezing a pillow to my chest, soaking the bedsheets below and occasionally swearing under my breath. It may have hurt to talk, but that's nothing, compared to how much it hurt emotionally.

I have always thought of the European Union as a positive thing, ever since I was a very young child. I was (and still am) fascinated by the concept of countries working together in a centralised system, even when in primary school, and was pretty much the only one in my A-Level Politics class who said joining the Euro was a good idea. My mother, who was around the first time the UK had an in/out referendum, admitted she was worried, but was confident that Remain would clinch this one. I, too, was confident of this - it would be narrow, but I credited the British public with the necessary intelligence to realise that freedom of movement, right of appeal, human rights protection, trade laws and millions of jobs were all pretty good ideas.

It's not the first time I've trusted people too much.

The say before the referendum, I posted some tweets about how the EU has affected the sex blogger community as a whole. While I am aware that there are many American sex bloggers, the European contingency is tight. Rose, Rebel, Abbi and Jillian are all bloggers who were able to travel here, no questions asked, to attend Eroticon and other gatherings. Jillian, of course, moved here from Belgium to seek work (which she found) and love (which she found) and a home (...buh?). She didn't get a visa, unlike DomSigns or Bunny (who would both probably tell you that it's a very difficult, and time-consuming, task. My hairy friend did the reverse, migrating to the USA to get married, and it took years.), but because of her EU citizenship, she didn't need one.

An EU passport. There are Syrian refugees drowning in the Mediterranean who would kill for one of those. To throw ours away because of some misguided, racist, patrioric, neoliberal jingoisms and falsified promises to protect our NHS and benefit services (which are both part-funded by the EU) is an insult to those people on the boats.

From a purely selfish perspective (to say nothing of the fact that I have a girlfriend from the European mainland!), the day job I do (and have been doing since 2011, on and off) is almost entirely dependent upon the EU for clients. Without the EU, I may not have had a job to call in sick to on Friday. I'm happy to say that my job is confirmed for at least one more year (phew!), but that doesn't mean that my entire future career would be in jeopardy. It's not just proles like me, either: my uncle, who works for a big auditing accounting company in London and is on a six-figure salary, is fearing for his job. In his words, we're "fucked".

The EU flag hangs in my office because we are partially funded by them as a small business. Basically, the EU pays my salary.

After months of campaigning, convincing all my family and friends to vote Remain, spending my lunch hour on Thursday walking up and down the high street handing out flyers and hanging a Remain poster in my room at work even though my boss told me not to, it's quite understandable, I think, that I spent most of Friday morning crying. I even tried to masturbate, but the sweet release of orgasm was difficult to achieve, and I had to resort to watching hardcore lesbian strap-on fucking to get me off.

Which reminds me - how does this affect the porn industry?

It's very difficult to think of a bright side to this (David Cameron resigning doesn't count). For what it's worth, though, I've heard in several places that it will take us two years to properly "Brexit". Much as I'd prefer us not to at all, at least we have that intervening time to regroup, campaign for social justice, and continue to enjoy the benefits the EU affords us. If we love the EU as much as we can, while we still can, then we will have shown Europe how special it is by the time "Brexit" is completed.

Certainly not in my name. I'm a European. I always have been and I always will be.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

2002

"I've never sung this one before," she grinned into the microphone, "so you may have to help me with the lyrics..."

Everyone geared up as Music Man started playing some chords we didn't recognise. For a moment, I thought that nobody would know the song, but then the bassist (wherever we came from; he was completely unfamiliar!) chimed in with the familiar bassline to Green Day's Longview and a roar came from the crowd.

Or what passed for a crowd. It was more like a mess than anything else - what had started as a collection of students crowded around tables and chairs with drinks had morphed, by the second half, into a largely open space with upended chairs as occasional hazards. The students, who probably weren't meant to be drinking as they were (mostly) under 18, had become an amorphous mass. I myself had typed out the band's set list in the library at school that week, but was still surprised to hear Longview.

"When masturbation's lost its fun, you're fuckin' lonely!" I hollered, mostly at Lightsinthesky, who was hollering it back at me as we hurtled to the front of the throng. Music Man, who would end the gig rocking back on his knees as he finished off Smells Like Teen Spirit, started playing a solo. It was a special moment.

That's when I noticed a small brunette sitting on her own in the corner.

Obsession had turned up earlier in the evening with her collection of friends. I knew her by association (and, by extension, LiveJournal) and she's always been civil, friendly even, to me. I saw her playing bass with a band she was in once, and then again, at these little gigs for the band that Music Man formed. And yet, here she was, all on her own. Why, I wondered, was she doing that, while the rest of us were pushing against each other singing Longview?

"Why Offspring?" I asked as we sat on the steps outside the pub, the heaving throng inside rocking out to All The Small Things. "In your MSN address?"
"Oh... they were my favourite band," she said sadly, pulling out her Nokia 3210 and showing me a The Offspring banner. "I still like them, but they're not my favourites any more." She paused. "Are you still into..."
"James?" I supplied. "Yeah."

All Obsession's friends, it transpired, had trickled away during the gig. They hadn't meant to abandon her, but had ended up doing so, drifting off in their ones and twos assuming there would be someone left over to accompany her. Evidently there wasn't. She was alone. Alone and short.

"Do you... do you want me to take you back to the tube station? So you don't have to be alone?" I ventured. 

Obsession almost smiled - almost. 

We went into the pub to listen to the final song and then beat the spill back out while she finished her drink. I convinced her that it wouldn't be any problem to walk her to the station and then set off. We had a nice chat, got to the station at the end. She hugged me as thanks and I gave her a quick kiss on the top of the head, then bid her farewell and walked back to the pub.

Lightsinthesky was surprised to see me back. Evidently he thought that "walking Obsession to the station" was code for something, and was a little disappointed that he didn't find someone to walk with too. We ended up on the bus home with the band, the Manics fan (with whom I would later want to have sex) and her slightly younger cousin, who was both completely oblivious to and hilariously impervious to Lightsinthesky's attempts to lay woo her. I texted Obsession quickly to see if she got back home okay, then 47 to tell him about the gig and, finally, Lightsinthesky, just to distract him.

Even though, a couple of days afterwards, I was starting to gravitate towards a relationship, Lightsinthesky wouldn't let it go. Walking into town with him at one point, he kept asking me exactly what was going on between us. I insisted that we were friends; there basically was nothing at all happening; I felt sorry for her because all her friends had vanished and was keeping her company; I knew her anyway so it was good to catch up; so what if we had a parting hug at the station? Hugs are nice.

Soon afterwards, I kind of lost touch with Obsession. As everyone was approaching university, people started pairing off (or, in Einstein's case, doing a Master's in Physics); Lightsinthesky had sex and wouldn't shut up about that either, my tall friend who now works at Pizza Hut learned to play Sweet Child O' Mine on the guitar. I was impatient, when I got to university, for some new experiences: I wasn't aware then, of course, that there had been so very many missed opportunities. The night before I left London, I was at a farewell party at Robinson's with all his mad friends, including Lovely - a missed opportunity for him, perhaps, that he managed to get back.

Just before we all left the sixth form, the band played a couple of farewell gigs, including a support slot for the band that Lightsinthesky's brother was in. This time, I took my girlfriend with me, and bought her a beer, unaware that a single pint would get her drunk. As I half-walked, half-carried her out of the familiar pub towards the bus stop, I noticed Obsession, sitting in a corner with the friends she had misplaced a few months prior. I waved.

She flashed a smile back at me. A genuine smile, full of warmth and life and the happiness that she'd claimed to be possessed of online, despite the fact that I'd seen her so low.

I only remember snatches of the night that followed. But I remember Obsession, the last person I saw in that pub. I've never been back since. But, for some reason, when I think back to those last few months, that smile's the thing that stays with me the most.

And I wish I knew where she is now.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Soft Porn Sunday: Keri Windsor & Brad Bartram vs. Melina Hanson & Anthony DeVilla

Some of you, if you've been reading this for a long time and haven't given up on me yet, may recognise the names of the actors above. Hanson and DeVilla have the dubious honour of being the main players in my first-ever Soft Porn Sunday back in 2010, and then again in 2015, but still missed out on a place in my top ten (it was a close-run thing, though; were I do to a top 11...). I haven't actually seen Melina Hanson in anything except this one episode of Passion Cove (and her IMDb page suggests that she hasn't actually done anything else), which is a shame, because she's hot. Still, in one half-hour episode we do get three sex scenes with her as Ruth, so I'm not really complaining much...

Appearance: Passion Cove, Series 2: "Practice What You Preach" (2001)
Characters: Elizabeth & Win vs. Ruth & Nick

The double sex scene is a rare breed, and a curious one. It's a rare thing to do (threesome scenes are more common), and probably also difficult to direct. You've got one couple doing one thing and another couple doing something else, which is probably different in order to create variability to identify which is which (this scene actually happens in the dark, which probably doesn't help!). A balance between two sex scenes is difficult to grasp, as (in terms of timing) the focus is probably going to be on one couple, with the others acting out, essentially, a "B-plot" of sex. Invariably, of course, it's the second couple I'm usually more interested in or aroused by.

That is, of course, the case here as well. Most of the sex that happens throughout the episode is between Ruth and her boyfriend Nick, whereas the main plot (without any sex) is focused mostly on
Oh, hai soft porn candle!
Ruth's boss, Elizabeth (Keri Windsor), a sex therapist who isn't having sex. Making up the shortfall is Win (Brad "Honesty" Bartram), staying next door to the resort at Passion Cove, a kind soul who ends up being the one who has sex with Elizabeth (putting paid to the saying that "nice guys never Win"). This is the final scene, the inevitable one, where Elizabeth suddenly realises her sexual potential with the guy WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE STAYING NEXT DOOR AND HAS TWO HORSES, BY THE WAY DID I MENTION THAT SHE GREW UP ON A RANCH, ZOMG COINCIDENCE!. And, for some reason, it happens during a thunderstorm.


Because. I don't know. Symbolism? Maybe there was actually a storm happening at the time. It genuinely doesn't matter.

This scene actually starts with Ruth and Naked Nick (I don't think wardrobe could arrange clothes for four) talking, flirting and then having the seks, and although it then switches in focus to what's going on in the next room with Elizabeth, who's Winning, it cuts back intermittently to Ruth and Nick. Essentially, then, you get two things happening, summarised thus.

Elizabeth & Win: Kissing; back onto the bed; more kissing; off go the panties; yet more kissing; soft porn cunnilingus (this is never realistic; kudos for giving it a go); jump! More kissing with laughter and some appalling dialogue; more kissing!; incredibly brief astride sex; sex in a sitting position which is probably impossible; a single moan, fade to black.

Ruth & Nick: Kissing; carried over to the bed (yes); disrobing; soft porn cunnilingus (less realistic, but hotter); bodies flip over with more kissing; quick and dirty doggie style sex; jump! Bouncy bouncy astride sex; more of this with moany noises; jump!

All of this is overlaid with occasional storm noises and flashes of lightning (well, somebody in the crew fucking about with a torch). You can't actually see the storm - throughout neither scene do we get a
Ruth and Nick "Flowers" Bartram.
window, although the ubiquitous soft porn candle does make an appearance - but it's clearly meant to be happening. Elizabeth and Win's bits all happen in the dark, so it's more apparent here, but the idea is that this is all happening at night during a tropical storm. Or something. It's a nice idea, anyway, and it sort of works. It gives the sound department a chance to piss around with thundery noises, but that's basically it - there's no rain, no wind, and (as I've said) you can't see it, so it even seems a bit superfluous.


Halfway through the scene, Elizabeth and Win stop kissing for one goddamn second to listen to Ruth having a orgasm.

No, seriously, that's what happens; they stop what they're doing to listen to Ruth and then exchange some dialogue along the lines of "looks like everybody's takin' the doctor's advice, even the doctor herself!" (delivered by "Honesty" Bartram with an attempt at acting which also almost works). Thin walls, eh? Passion Cove resort needs to be looked at; people may mention this on Trip Advisor.

While the bits that work about this scene do work, there are some bits that don't. Perhaps the most obvious one is the music. Ruth and Nick have their own, recognisable "theme", which starts them off.
This is, of course, impossible.
If you've seen Passion Cove you'll know the theme; it's used a few times and fits the scene well - a mixture of digital percussion, deep sexy bass and Spanish guitar. It's actually quite pretty and one of the best bits of softcore music I can think of. Elizabeth and Win, however, have different music (Ruth and Nick's cuts out to make space for it!): a kind of quasi-tribal arrangement with thudding congas and repetitive, ethereal synth lines like you might find on a level select screen. It's not as good, and it continues throughout the rest of the scene - including the bit where it cuts back to Ruth and Nick, only that transition's not very smooth, so there's a second jarring change in music. Very annoying!


And, of course, I'm not happy with the prevalence of Elizabeth and Winner throughout - even if they are the "A"-plot. It's erotic romance, so they were going to get together anyway, but throughout the episode we've been a little spoiled by the genuine chemistry and incredibly hot sex between Ruth and Nick (who are both attractive and put in steamy performances). Here, it's almost like we're going to be treated to a third scene between them, and then they strip this away in favour of a less hot, less enjoyable scene with two less believable characters! Also very annoying!

However, I would recommend this scene - even for arousal purposes, although it works best as a dénouement to the whole episode. Clunky bits aside, there's just enough of Ruth and Nick's lusty
Mwah!
lovemaking to make this enjoyable. Melina Hanson, in particular, carries the whole episode basically on her own, from the very first scene to the end, despite Keri Windsor playing the main character (and being a soft porn stalwart, to boot). This genuinely isn't a scene I'd just watch for the main pair, despite the fact that they Win, so the fact that I'm reviewing it at all is something of a miracle unto itself!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Panache

When I was little, my mum used to use a brand of perfume named "Panache". It took me a while to learn what the word panache meant, but since I could read by the age of one and a half, I used to enjoy trying to pronounce unusual words. Things like "smoking", "shark" and "manilla envelope" I had no trouble with, but - for some reason, "panache" escaped me. I ended up saying something like "paschy" (/pæ'ʃiː/), and since my mum had two sizes of perfume bottle (for reasons that elude me even to this day), I named them "big paschy and little paschy". I used to talk to them while brushing my teeth. This I remember.

Fast forward eleven years and you'll find me in year 8 - still talking to inanimate objects, still reading practically everything and still aware of the existence of manilla envelopes. In the slightly darkened corridors of my cavernous secondary school, while lining up for a French lesson, I overheard two of my main tormentors - the bully who gave me trouble and the... well, the other one... - talking with glee and zest about panache.

"Hey, ILB! How's your panache?" one of them yelled.

Half of me almost thought of thanking them for complementing me on my fashionable style and joie de vivre, but I conceded that was unlikely. Unwilling to engage them any further, I tried to think of a way to end the conversation right there, and into the other half of my brain rocketed a distant memory of two bottles of perfume in the bathroom cupboard.

Big Paschy and Little Paschy.

"Panache? Why, that's a kind of perfume!" I said, as brightly as possible.

Both bullies looked as if I'd just suggested that I'd won the lottery and would be giving them all my winnings. Confused at why the mention of perfume would be cause for them to share an evil grin, I started to turn away.

"Hey, ILB! Have you smelled your dad's panache?" came the voice of Bully #1.
"It's not my dad's," I replied, making things much worse for myself without realising. "It's my mum's."
"Hey, ILB!" said Bully #2, in a mock serious tone but shaking with fits of suppressed laughter. "Have you smelled your mum's panache?"
"I..." I started to reply, and then paused. Had I, at any point, considered the distinctive scent of oddly-named eau de parfum? Probably not. Whatever "panache" meant to the bullies (and I was beginning to get a pretty clear idea by now), I just had to answer "no", and that would be that.

"Yes," I said.

FUCK.

"And what does it smell like?" asked Bully #1, in a voice so loud that the rest of the class, and even several members of staff, turned around.
"Well, like perfume, I suppose... what else is it supposed to smell like?" I said, confused.

At which point the lesson started, and we filed into the classroom, both bullies now howling with laughter and being asked to remain outside because they were making too much noise.

Unfortunately, this happened in the morning, and this gave them the chance to repeat, over and over again, the story of how I'd smelled my mum's panache, and it was like perfume. I was on hand, of course, to verify this story, becoming more and more confused as to why this was at all funny - in most cases, the audience seemed to agree with this, either unfamiliar with the euphemism itself or just not thinking that teasing me was particularly funny.

Nobody really liked me, so I suspect it was the former.

Eventually, of course, the bell rang and I managed to escape to make my way home... at which point I typically realised exactly what these bullies had decided the word "panache" meant. Resolving never, ever, ever to use that word again - and, in fact, to limit my vocabulary severely in case something like "fishslice" or "dishcloth" or "Spanish omelette" had some unscrupulous double meaning invented by whomsoever had decided to pick on me on whichever day it was.

As I made my way towards my bedroom, I checked the bathroom shelves for signs of Panache. My mum, it seemed, had switched to something named "Fiji" (which may not had has the same ring: "have you smelled your mum's fiji?") - but, after a bit of searching, I did manage to unearth Little Paschy, still there, and still unopened.

And as I lay in bed that night, I fervently thanked God that I'd conveniently forgotten to confirm that my mum had a Big Panache.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows (of kink)...

I didn't really want to go to work this morning, but the sun smiling down upon London made waiting for the bus more bearable (after I'd found a tree to shade under, anyway); with the promise of exciting things later like "shopping" and "cuddles" and the cheeky memory of having brought my girlfriend to orgasm last night with my fingers and the fact that I got paid this morning left me feeling quite chipper.

If you forget about the EU referendum. I've spent years talking about how a Brexit is completely unworkable and counter-intuitive to a more peaceful world and some people are still going to vote for it. So let's not talk about that.

My faith in humankind was restored, to a point, when Pandora Blake tweeted a link to show that her outlawed BD/SM website, Dreams of Spanking, is... well... no longer outlawed. (Here's a post on her blog which explains why; although, if you're reading this, you probably already know it all. Come back in a year and this'll be a valuable history lesson.) While spanking isn't really my thing, and there's still a multitude of problems with the ATVOD Ofcom regulations, this is still a significant victory for free speech. And porn. It certainly made my day.

How to explain to my clients why I was smiling so broadly was a little more difficult.

"Well, I've got a friend who runs a... well, she runs a... business, and the British government decided to shut it down."
"Why did they do that?"
"Well, it's very complicated, but anyway, I just got the news, er, she tweeted about it..."

[Nobody here asked what the word "tweeted" meant.]
"...and that's not the case any more, so she can start her... business... back up. We're all very pleased about it."
"Oh! Tell her that's great news for local businesses!"
"Er, yeah, I will, thanks."

I was hard-pressed not to mention the fact that I've been stood behind a camera watching said local business owner thwacking my girlfriend's behind with a cane. Or that she recently made a film in a hotel room featuring two fellow bloggers planned on the spur of the moment. Or, indeed, that I stayed up to watch her talking about porn on Newsnight. I'd cheerily admit to any of these things, but not to my clients, and certainly not within earshot of my boss, who votes Tory and doesn't know what "LGBTQIA+" stands for (but is still voting Remain on the 23rd, to my relief).

It was later on, while browsing Twitter and pretending to work, that I noticed Laura Jenkins of Candy Girl Pass has also won an appeal against Ofcom, and let out a little laugh.

All my clients looked at me at the same time.

"...another business just got re-opened?" I ventured. 

At this point, I felt less like continuing to work and more like going out into the park next door, walking a few miles in a circle to burn off ALL THE FEELINGS, and possibly sing Don't Stop Believin' while using the exercise bike they installed before the Olympics. Or just go home, do the shopping, have a cup of tea and then finger my girlfriend to orgasm again. Anything, basically, before I managed to mention that I'd just spent the better part of two hours thinking about how much I support the production and distribution of pornography.

"Okay... onwards," I eventually head myself saying, as I fired up my USB stick to find the data I needed. Which, of course, I found... once I'd scrolled past all the porn first.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Boy with the good hair

Once, in the ghostland period between university and proper adulthood (I am possibly still in that ghostland), I was an active member of a community full of beautiful people.

That was actually part of the remit for membership of the community; you needed to be physically attractive. How the bloody hellfire I managed to get in can only really be conjectural at this point, but they also judged verbal dexterity and wit (so I repeat my previous statement). I worked incredibly hard on my application, rewrote it several times, and asked for a new digital camera for Christmas specifically in order to take pictures.

Despite walls of text and several shots of me looking like a rejected model in a hideous light blue shirt, I got in. When I joined, halfway through my final year, the community was in a slump; a boom happened shortly afterwards, followed by a redesign. I weathered it through the storm of changes, and it soon became a kind of home for me - a group of people who didn't necessarily have to be likeminded, but (as it turned out) were. Having left behind another community (due to age; you wouldn't go to the events past 21), I needed another one to embrace, and this was it.

One of the questions I was asked a few times, and I asked it myself almost once a week, was "how exactly do you justify the existence of a community like this?" It seems like a terrible idea: élitism taken to its logical conclusion, all accepted members given permission to vote other members out or reject potential applicants with the click of a button. I was, for a period of time, a moderator and it was my job to have the final say of "accepted" or "rejected", going by what the majority vote was. I remember voting yes because somebody was attractive; unlike the other members, I never called anyone fat, or ugly, or stupid. I tried to use good judgement and be more humane than this system called for. I'd like to think a good job.

I was, however, aware that I was part of an élitist, judgemental group and that this did not gel with my inclusive ideals at all.

Why, then, did the community appeal? I think that, originally, it was the "challenge" aspect that got to me the most. I stumbled across it, by accident, while looking for sex blogs (would you believe...?) and was both fascinated and repulsed by their application process. I applied to see if I had any chance at all. As it turned out, of course, most of the other members had joined for this reason as well; some had even signed up as a joke to shed light on seemingly snobbish, exclusivist behaviour and got accepted anyway.

Over time, I became less nervous and began to participate more. I joined in discussions. I voted. I posted. I promoted. I even took more pictures of myself to share with the community, something I'd never usually do. And I got to know other members more, eventually counting them as friends. For a time, being in the community was my safe haven: my go-to. My secret world.

Being, as it was, full of incredibly attractive people, the slightly vacuous part of my brain was thrilled as my inclusion. I've never thought of myself as physically attractive, but here I was, posting pictures of myself and being called handsome, even when dressed up in my auntie's old bridesmaid costume or while cradling my cat in my arms. I even posted a picture of myself crying once when I was having one of my "moments", and was comforted. In a way - a very real way - writing my posts, doing my pictures and reading other people's made me feel more attractive - both physically and personality-wise - than I'd ever been.

So that's why I stayed. Confidence. I've rarely ever felt confident. Here, surrounded by gorgeous people with brains and flair, I felt that spark that I've never felt anywhere else... except, perhaps, within the sex blogger community.

Eventually, for whatever reason, the community fizzled out. Some people left, some vanished, and the general deprecation of the social networking site we used to administrate it didn't help. The final post, officially, was by me, announcing that we were closed for maintenance. As for the woman who started it in the first place... she had long since vanished.

Every now and again, I am hit by a wave of nostalgia, and visit; many of the old posts are still active, and all of mine certainly are. I no longer feel the pull that I used to, but I do realise, in my head, that it was there. I don't feel drawn to the community, but I do think it.

It's strange, perhaps, to feel so fond about a group of people who were so selective about membership for the simple reason that one of them told me that I had nice hair in my application post. And that, even though it's long since dead, I've never considered it since my final post as anything but dormant. Why I feel this way, I can't really explain... élitism aside, however, were there ever any sign of movement that I picked up on - and if I were offered the chance to participate once more - I'd gladly take hold of the baton... and run with it once more.