Friday 6 March 2015

New Normals

Well, it seems yesterday's mini Hannibal Lecter went unremarked, but World Book Day hit the headlines today after an 11-year-old lad marked the occasion by turning up to school dressed as Christian (Fifty Shade of) Grey, duly equipped with cable ties and an eye mask. You may well inquire, wearily, what the world has come to - especially as, it seems, one of the teachers turned up dressed as Dexter, the well-known serial killer. World Book Day appears to have become - at least in our schools - a kind of  alternative Halloween, with only tenuous connections to the world of books. Not that it matters - every day is an international day of something or other and no one notices, or has any reason to. What might matter rather more is that the kind of practices - collectively known as BDSM - celebrated in Fifty Shades of Grey (to an accompaniment of Thomas Tallis's Spem in Alium) seems to be becoming 'the new normal'. A 'sex therapist' writing in the current Standpoint is not at all happy about it. Why this rise in masochism? Beats me.


  1. Well Nige, I discovered one possible answer to the question you pose a couple of decades ago in a street off Trafalgar Square - OK, if you insist, Craven Street. At the time I was a purveyor and maker of curtains and blinds to the landed gentry, the man in the street and, as it turned out in this instance, a tart with a heart - for I had stumbled, by invitation, into what the Americans call a 'cat house'.
    Having led the relatively sheltered life that I had done, it was a while before I 'copped on' to where I was, and what was going on around me; sitting in the 'reception' of a splendid Regency interior, an enormous number of very well dressed 'business men' were arriving and leaving, as would be the case if this had been the waiting-room of a doctor, or a dentist.
    Anyway, to cut to the chase, I measured the windows and discussed what was required with 'the lady of the house' but before leaving I felt I would chance my arm and ask her to show me around - and amazingly she took me down to the basement (dungeon?), and a small room that housed what looked like a enlarged dog-kennel. And in something of a reversal of the 50 Shades story line, the lady explained that 'they' are often highly successful professional men who carry a certain amount of guilt concerning that success, and that they come here for 'half an hour' to try and expunge some of that guilt - they pop into the 'kennel', and one of the girls treated them like a dog for 30 minutes.
    And that was 20 years ago. Most of us, in London anyway, have become a lot more affluent since then, and it is not too much of a stretch to imagine a link between that affluence, and the desire, nay the need, to ameliorate the guilt of it.

  2. We are but a nation of innocents compared with our continental colleagues, Nige. At the intersection of Köln's Hansaring and Hamburger Straße there has recently opened a rather large, brightly lit retail establishment. 200 meters from a school, anyone interested in it's merchandise, line 13 from the Hauptbahnhof, the Hansaring station is the first stop, directly opposite the establishment. You can't miss it, it's windows are full of it's produce and people are purposefully and, unashamedly, striding away with large plastic bags marked 'Orion Fetish-Shop'

  3. Good Lord! Thank you gentlemen both for your eye-opening dispatches.