Monday, 21 May 2012

Sex Shop Etiquette.

WARNING! The following contains material of an adult nature so any kids, people of an immature mindset or the easily offended had better stop reading right now.

Have they gone? Okay, let's get started.  Shopping is easy to understand, I am either shopping for something I really want and therefore thoroughly engaged or I am shopping for basics like food and cleaning products and will bimble along on autopilot.
Shopping in adult stores present a problem as people are never quite sure how to behave. We point at vibrators and giggle like school kids or affect a disapproving attitude while looking at handcuffs and tell our partners that we would never be interested in such filth, even as we are imagining them cuffed naked and spread eagled on the bed.

A few years ago myself and my girlfriend were in the Soho area of London and went into a sex shop. It was one of the old fashioned, sleazy ones full of furtive men trying to look nonchalant while trying to decide whether to buy Anal Outrage 2 or Big Tit Swingers. We had a look at some of the video covers but British porn is frankly fucking awful and everybody in them looks ill so we decided to buy a bottle of strawberry flavoured lubricant.

After buying this we went to a nearby pub and had a look at our purchase. I squeezed a bit onto my finger and had a taste. It was absolutely vile and so we decided that we were going to get out money back as it had clearly gone off.  There was no sell by date on it but it had probably been brewed up in a Chinese sweatshop by someone trying to earn a pittance while under the yoke of Communism, so the last thing they would be worried about was a Capitalist running dog like myself getting bad guts.

We went back into the shop and I strode confidently up to the bored looking guy behind the counter
and asked if we could have out money back as the lubricant appeared to have gone bad.
"What do you mean, gone bad"? he asked so I explained what had happened.
"You tried to eat it"? he said looking incredulous.
I didn't feel on such solid ground now and could sense the furtive customer's ears pricking up behind the bongo mags they were reading.

"When you say 'tried to eat it', I didn't put it in a sandwich or anything like that. I just tried a bit on my finger", I said.
By now a big, Maltese-looking bloke had come out of a back room and was standing behind the counter.
He explained that it was a water-based lubricant and was not to be ingested orally.  I tried to counter with the fact that if it was not to be ingested orally then why was it strawberry flavoured?

At this point he told me that I couldn't have my money back and to fuck off. So we did.

These days sex shops are on our high streets and are far more professional and respectable with pleasant and helpful staff. My last encounter was in an Anne Summers shop when I went on my own to buy a blindfold.  The girl behind the counter showed me a black leather blindfold but I said it looked a bit sinister, I was trying to arouse my wife and not scare the shit out of her. She then showed me a quilted, floral pattern one with frilly edges and I commented this was more like something an old lady would wear, if you can imagine such a thing. I finally settled on a plain black fabric one and said that I was like the Goldilocks of blindfolds.

The assistant and I both had a laugh and I realised that at no point had I felt uncomfortable or embarrassed and had discussed my purchase with a helpful member of staff as though I was buying a shirt.
I was an adult in an adult store and I was treated like an adult and not like some sort of sexual deviant.

So if you want to go into a sex shop, go in with your partner and have fun while you are doing it. I don't mean that awkward, self concious sort of behaviour that usually involves putting a dildo to your forehead and  waggling it about. Trust me, this just annoys the staff.  I mean discuss what you both want from each other and what excites you then have a look at what's on offer.

And always remember that sex between consenting adults, no matter what gender, is their own business and NOBODY else has a right to interfere, no matter how offended they claim to be.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ben Nevis Part 2.

At the foot of Ben Nevis mountain stands the Ben Nevis Inn. It's a simple stone-built structure with wooden floors and a high ceiling with wooden beams. Long trestle tables with benches and deer antlers on the walls make it look like a Viking long hall. On the far wall is a large picture window that gives a view right up the length of Glen Nevis and the mountains that surround it. A plaque underneath the window shows the names of the mountains in view and it was our intention to climb all the ones we could see from this window.

Every evening we stepped out of the croft we were staying in right next to the inn and would have a couple of pints while we spread out an Ordnance Survey map on the wooden table and mapped out the next days walk.

On one such evening I was waiting to get served at the bar amongst the crowd of climbers and hikers that came from all of the world to test themselves on the mountains when I heard someone with a London accent say my name "Fraser"! I turned around and found myself looking into the bearded face of Rory McGrath. This bloke has been on British television for years as a comedian, panel show guest and presenter and now here he was addressing me.

(Flashback time, the picture goes all wobbly).

The first time I met somebody famous I was 15 years old and hanging about near the stage door of St. Georges Hall in Bradford waiting to see Twisted Sister. Myself and some other metal heads were hoping to get the band's autographs. Just then a tiny Austin Metro that appeared to be full of hair pulled up and out stepped Dee Snyder and Jay Jay French.

Now as I had not met anybody famous before I adopted a Beatlemania attitude and ran screaming towards the two American rock dudes, who viewed my reaction with some alarm. As I reached them I realised that all the other autograph hunters were casually strolling over and politely asking for autograph instead of screaming and running about like a bloody idiot.
I consequently felt like a twat and ever since that day I have affected an air of studied nonchalance whenever I meet anyone famous.

(Flash forward to Scotland. Wibbly wobbly).

So there I am face to face with TV star Rory McGrath who for some reason knows who I am. I was just about to speak when a Scottish guy next to me at the bar said "What do you want Rory"? Then I remembered I was in the heart of Clan Cameron country in the Scottish highlands and about 30% of the male population around here are called Fraser.

I went back to our table and gave them the news. "What's he doing here"? asked my wife. "I don't know. I'm going to pretend to go to the toilet and see if I can eavesdrop as I go past", I said.
I sauntered past the group at the bar as casually as I could and reached the door of the gents. I was too busy looking at the crowd and not the toilet door when I reached out my hand and hadn't realised that someone inside the toilet had already opened it and I stumbled into this person.
"Whoa, sorry mate", I said and looked at who I had bumped into.

It was Paddy McGuiness, yet another comedian and popular TV presenter. What the fuck?
"Alright mate, no harm done", he said patting me on the shoulder.
"......." I said, once again blind sided by a celebrity and left speechless.

It turned out they were taking part in the Glen Nevis River Race the next day and were filming it for a documentary where they took part in bizarre and ancient sporting events in the UK. No-one made any great fuss about their presence, in fact the atmosphere and the banter in the pub was so good they filmed some stuff inside of them having a few pints and a laugh.
We were sitting close by but not in shot so I occasionally did a stupid laugh to see if this would end up in the show but they never aired the pub bit.

So the moral of the story is that in the last bit of civilization before the Scottish wilderness you can still find TV stars, and they were really decent blokes.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ben Nevis Part One.

OK, so Ben Nevis isn't the highest mountain in the world but it's the highest we've got in the UK so it will have to do.  A mile and a half outside the town of Fort William there is a single track road that ends by the Ben Nevis Inn at the foot of the mountain.  There is a small hostel and a croft directly opposite the pub and I have stayed in this croft a few times while hiking in the Scottish mountains.

The first time I climbed Ben Nevis I was surprised to see snow near the summit even though it was the middle of July. I was even more surprised by the clothing that some people were wearing as they climbed the mountain.  Sandals, crocs, flip-flops and wellies were just some of the blister inducing footwear on show.

Now I've been hiking for several years now and whenever I walk I have proper boots, maps, compass, headlight and glow sticks in case I get stranded in the dark. First Aid kit, spare bootlaces and socks, enough water and food to last me, waterproof clothing, woolly hat and gloves and a 65 litre capacity rucksack with a maximum size dry bag to carry all this shit in.  In short, I have become a walking snob and look down my nose at people less well prepared than myself.  Forgetting that only a few years ago I was the one trying to climb a mountain in trainers and jeans with only a flask of tomato soup and a ham sandwich in a carrier bag.

The first time I went up Ben Nevis it was sunny at the foot of the mountain but I could see rain on the peaks to the west and knew the wind would blow it my way and started putting my waterproofs on before it arrived.  I was getting  funny looks from other people walking past and tried to warn them of the oncoming rain, a bit like that bloke in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers warning of the coming invasion but nobody listens.  They just thought I was mad and carried on climbing in their shorts and t-shirts to their soggy fate.
 Sure enough by the time I was at the summit I was surrounded by thick cloud and it was raining so heavily we may as well have been underwater.

When I eventually sloshed my way back down and got to the croft we got the log fire going and sat there drinking tea while clouds of steam rolled off us. Bliss.

Tune in next week to find out what happened when I went to the pub that night.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Fields of Metal.

There's blossoms in the trees and the land is waking up from it's winter slumber.  Which means the rock festivals will soon be here.  I don't go to as many as I did when I was younger, I prefer smaller venues and the festivals in mainland Europe have a much better vibe than ones in the UK.  Not as many beer monsters, I suppose.

However, when myself and my mates were younger the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington was one of the highlights of the year. These days it is called the Download festival. It didn't really matter who was on, we would hire a Transit van and pile as many people and as much beer as we could and usually be lathered before we even got there.

Here are some of the things I remember from my festival days:

Standing waiting to get into the arena and passing an empty plastic cider bottle around to piss in. When a bottle fight started in the crowd my mate pulling his arm back to throw and showering us all in our own urine.

Dressing as vicars and havng a custard pie fight in the car park using shaving foam and paper plates.

Cadging a bin liner off a bloke in a burger van during a downpour, punching head and armholes in it and using it as a coat then watching Iron Maiden.

Nine of us trying to sleep on the floor in the back of a van.

Trying to put an unconcious drunk bloke in the recovery position and not remembering how to do it. He ended up looking ike the Isle of Man coat of arms.

Pouring a load of beer into a binliner so we could take our own booze into the arena to beat the bottle embargo and drinking it by shoving our heads into the bag.

Arguing with the security outside the arena because they wouldn't let us take our own food inside. We had to eat as much as we could then give the rest away. One bloke thought we were a Christian aid charity.

Going to a pub outside the Reading arena that would let festival goers buy beer as long as they stood outside in the road to drink it. Then realising that we were standing next to Faith No More.

Not washing and being covered in mud for days.

Having some of the biggest laughs of my life with some of the best mates I could have wished for.

Oh yeah, we saw loads of great bands as well, too many to list here.
So get yourselves off to at least one festival if you can and enjoy it.