My London Bridge

My train from the suburbs arrives into London Bridge. At the time he was working just over the river. It’s a hot July day and I’m not really concentrating. My phone pings.

Fancy sucking my cock?”

“I’ll get the next train.”

“I’ll see you in The Vintry”

An hour later I’m walking back across the bridge to get the train home. A man double takes as I dip my fingers into my cleavage and lick the spunk from them.

I giggle and text him.

“That’s a really hot message! That was really hot.”

Forty minutes later I’m back at my desk.

I’ve thought about that every single time I’ve crossed London Bridge since. That’s my London Bridge memory. It’ll always be my London Bridge memory.

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First Date 

We’d planned to meet on Monday but he messed his diary up.

‘Tuesday?’, he suggested.

‘That’s Valentine’s Day. Would it be weird?‘, I asked.

‘Doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you’, he replied.

Saturday: The Wicked Wednesday Valentine’s Day story prompt is out. An idea takes hold. A simple shot, no need for words. First Date.

‘I might need you to take a photo of me next week’, I type.

Sunday: ‘My work thing’s been cancelled so Monday’s fine if you prefer?

‘No, my photo story won’t work if we don’t meet on Valentine’s Day’.

Well, they may as well know upfront what they’re letting themselves in for with me, right?

Me by Sean

Febraury Photofest

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Undressing for Dinner

‘Are you hungry?’

‘Um…I don’t know, I don’t think so. Maybe. I think the fizz has filled me up. But yes, probably.’

Eloquent!

I’m not sure if it was a teasing question, or just comic timing but I’d blatantly been staring at his cock, visible as he sat on the bar stool in the too-short white robes we’d just changed into. Hungry? Yes.

I like to buy experiences as birthday presents. Presents that create memories. My Mum gets trips to gardens and lunches with views. My best friends and I have saved £20 month for years and go on weekends to New York and spas, and dance at concerts. Exhibit A got dinner at The Bunyadi, London’s first naked restaurant. I’m not sure if the 40,000+ waiting list is fact or clever PR built around the number of people that signed up for more information when news of London’s latest pop up restaurant was released earlier this year, but I only booked a week or two in advance so I’m suspicious about that spin!

A few minutes later we were shown to our table through the black out curtains to the side of the bar. The restaurant, a ‘complex’ of private booths created with winding bamboo walls is in near darkness, lit only by candles. Once in your booth you disrobe. Seats are tree stumps, the tables made of wider slices of tree trunks. Terracotta plates and wine goblets and edible cutlery removed all the clatter of a normal restaurant. The website isn’t wrong when it describes it as having the feel of a spa. The waiters and waitresses are also naked, bar some strategically arranged ivy underwear: ‘It’s a very A Midsummer Night’s Dream outfit,’ observed Exhibit A. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the food, assuming it would be okay at best and that the experience would be the main attraction, but actually it was delicious. And no hot food or liquids that could create a painful accident if you spilt it in your lap! Salmon sashimi, steak tartare and a coconut mousse. There’s a choice of vegan or non vegan too.

Directing us back to the bar after dinner the waitress told us robes were no longer compulsory in the bar. Back on the bar stools you soak up the experience of collective nakedness. It was at that stage that the ‘rules’ come into focus. No photography (the ones here were snapped quickly in the changing rooms) and ‘no sexual activity’. A quick affectionate slap to my arse or me unthinkingly running my hand up and down his leg as we chat suddenly comes into sharp focus and something you wouldn’t think twice about when clothed suddenly has a frisson about it. But a good teasing one! ‘The best and worst bit of last night was the constant tease of just wanting to take your cock in my mouth and feel it get hard and not being able to,’ I messaged the next day.

I’m sure some people keep their eyes firmly on themselves and their drinks, but we’re not those types of people and happily (but discreetly!) drunk in the nakedness around us. ‘If you could fuck anyone in this bar who would it be?’ he asked. ‘Her,’ I said, nodding to a woman stood at the bar to our left, chatting to her friend. Of course he immediately struck up conversation. What followed was two hours of conversation covering everything from careers in law to non monogamous partnerships to our blogs to sex positive and sex negative parents to body piercing and Doxy wands. I’m not sure if I vocalised it or just thought it, but at one point it crossed my mind that I hadn’t for one moment felt self-conscious or tried to tuck in my belly or worried about my flat nipples.

At the end of the evening, wobbly from the wine and atmosphere, we all get dressed. I remember looking at the two women we’d spend the last couple of hours talking to and being surprised at what they were both wearing. I’ve no idea why, really. I don’t know what I would have put them in, but I remember thinking if I’d been asked how they’d dress based on the conversations we’d been having and their different confidence levels I’d have probably swapped their outfits over. A reminder that so often our clothes are our armour and part of the story we tell the outside world about ourselves.

We all go our separate ways. Him to have an unfortunate end to the evening involving a bike and a pavement, one of them South and me and the hot woman to share a taxi to South East London where we both live. I could say my evening ended there, but it would be a lie. Three hours later in bed she says, ‘This is so bizarre. I’ve spent all evening saying “don’t look at her tits, don’t look at her tits!”‘ ‘Really?!’ ‘Yes! I clocked you as soon as you two walked into the bar.’

That was a surprise! I’m not self-depreciating; of course I know people fancy me but I always assumed I am more of a package! Not someone you’d notice as they walked into the room but someone you fancy more as the layers of their personality and experiences are revealed. I rely on good dresses and skinny jeans that show off my legs, shoes and jewellery that catches the eye. Things that distract from the middle bit, basically! I didn’t imagine for one minute that naked me walking into a room would catch an eye or that being perched on a stool with my belly rolled up and odd-shaped breasts on full display would be in any way hot to a stranger.

‘Ha! He asked who’d I’d most want to fuck minutes after we sat down and I said you.’

‘Oh my God. I assume nobody ever fancies me. I think they always fancy my hot friend.’

So there you have it. Great atmosphere, delicious food and assumption-busting encounters. 

A Brush with Spirited Bodies

Lucy & E40 (L-R) by Patsy Hans

Lucy & E40 by Patsy Hans

Trigger: violence against women

I stood naked on stage, back-to-back with another woman, arms raised as if protecting ourselves. The eyes of 40 other women were on us. I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked back the tears. Feelings of vulnerability surged through me.

“In the UK, prosecutions for violence against women include domestic abuse, rape, forced marriage, stalking, honour-based violence, trafficking, female genital mutilation, child abuse, and offences related to prostitutions and pornography.”

“Around the world a woman is killed in an honour crime every 90 minutes. If a woman is seen to have bought shame on the family by refusing to enter an arranged marriage, looking too long at a boy, or even being raped, a man is free to kill her as long as another family member forgives him.”

The tears I blinked back were not for me. I personally did not feel vulnerable. Quite the opposite. I was enveloped in warmth and good will. I was mentally stilled by the concentration of staying physically still, absorbing the meditative silence of those concentrating on their drawing. The surge of emotion as we held positions that spoke of violence and trauma were for the women whose lives I was imagining as the words above were read out. Somehow, the experience of feeling so strong through being completely naked enabled me to feel more acutely the vulnerability of the women whose stories we were hearing.

I hadn’t really expected the experience of modelling for life drawing to be particularly emotional, but then I am not sure what I had expected. Participating was a spur of the moment decision. Reading the programme for the WOW Festival the night before, I had spotted that Spirited Bodies was running a life drawing session and audience members were free to model. I tweeted them in the morning and then turned up really early. I planted myself on the front row, a complete fraud amongst the people who wanted a prime position because they could actually draw. I didn’t want to draw, I wanted to take all my clothes off!

I didn’t want to take my clothes off quite as much as Nat who walked to the back of the room and stripped naked before realising the only other people who were so far naked were the Spirited Bodies cast! When audience participation actually started, unencumbered by clothes as she was, she was first on stage. Waiting for the rest of us to peel off the layers, she described seeing “a line of naked amazingness proudly walking on stage.”

And it was a proud feeling. A slightly out of body feeling, but also proud. Looking into the audience there was a sea of smiling faces and a ripple of applause. Looking around the other volunteers I noted that we were all wearing the same slightly dappy grins as we looked to the more experienced models for direction. It struck me that everyone’s face was open and warm and full of anticipation. I didn’t know any of these women but it felt safe.

We settled self-consciously into our first pose. “We’re going for a drink after this,” I muttered not very quietly. A collective chuckle and quick agreement. Later, in the bar, three of us who posed chatted to Patsy, one of the artists. She commented on how nice it was seeing the camaraderie that existed amongst those of us on stage. I am glad the audience could see that because up there it felt really tangible. While the segment on trauma and violence was an incredibly powerful and emotional experience, at times it was also really bloody funny.

“I have cramp in my thumb.” “What?!”

“My thighs are really sweaty.”  

“I was paranoid my period was going to arrive.” “So was I!” 

“Farting would have been the worst thing to happen!” 

But most of all it was humbling and uplifting. On stage were a group of amazing women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities, trusting the women in the audience. And in the audience were women using the trust we put in them to find their own meditative space as they sketched. There was no judgement in the room, just a heady mixture of solitude and solidarity.

Thank you to Spirited Bodies for an amazing experience – I hope our paths cross again. Thank you to the artists for your work – I have credited those of you whose names I know, but please do get in touch if I haven’t and you want a link back to your site or Twitter.

https://spiritedbodies.com/

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Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Grey pubes, YAY!

“Oh, I don’t know, but as long as I meet my husband before I get grey pubes, that’s OK.”

2015-07-25 09.49.09About eight or nine years ago this was one of my stock comedy retorts to people’s questions about my intention or desire to settle down. Depending on how well I knew the person it either made them laugh or made them feel awkward. If they felt awkward they probably didn’t know me well enough to have asked the question in the first place, so I felt no remorse!

Then, I was 32/33. Wedding season was pretty much behind us; the matches had happened and the hatching was starting. I, meanwhile, was not necessarily floundering, but was certainly wondering. Wondering if the urge to settle down would hit me. And wondering if there was something wrong with me for feeling vaguely appalled at the prospect when so many wanted it so desperately.

I’d like to say the fading of my pubes was chosen as the deadline for getting my head round my desired relationship status because it was such a way-off-in-the-distance landmark it gave me sufficient time for meaningful thought and reflection. But that would be a lie. I chose it because at 32 the prospect of grey pubes seemed, well, a bit ick and unattractive. Shorthand for ‘getting old and everything’s going a bit downhill now’. I somehow thought I should be sorted before the physical signs of age really started to creep in. As Chelsea Summers wrote in The Guardian last year: “the stray grey short and curly feels like a harbinger of mortality.”

Fast forward to April 2015 and *avert your eyes* – I FIND A GREY PUBE!

I was sat on the loo at the time. I gasped. I did a double-take. I peered closer, then sat bolt upright, eyes widening.  I looked back down, gave it a sharp tug and it was liberated. Then I sat there, holding it between thumb and forefinger – staring, fascinated. I held it up to the light. I pulled it straight. Yes, definitely brown at one end and white at the other.

‘Gosh,’ I thought, ‘today’s the day!’

This was the day when the emotional walls would come crashing in on me and being single would suddenly be AWFUL because of GREY PUBES and OH MY GOD, IT’S ALL OVER, I’M OLD. But of course, that’s not what happened at all because, unlike 32-year-old me who really wasn’t at peace with herself, 41-year-old me is. Plus, more importantly, I remembered where I was; I wasn’t sat on the loo at home, I was sat on the loo in an orphanage in Brazil and I had a job to do. Seriously! This really wasn’t the time or the place to be self-indulgently contemplating a grey pube with a wry grin on my face!

Aside from the fact there really are a million more significant things to worry about in the world than the colour of pubes, I also no longer need a false deadline to find a husband because I am comfortable saying I don’t want one at the moment. And this symbol of aging and unattractiveness is nonsense because I feel significantly better about myself than I ever have at any age. And I have men who add value to my life, physically, intellectually and creatively and I don’t need them to be more than they are. I don’t feel like I am settling for second best with anyone, I feel like I have carved out a life that works for me.

I tell you what though, the self-belief may be rock solid but that doesn’t stop me keeping a close eye on that little strip of hair. There’s only been one so far but if any more of the little grey fuckers come through they’ll be plucked out just as quickly!

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Shoe Power

 “I bet you’re allowed to wear red shoes now, aren’t you?”

Shoe FlowerI looked blankly at the sales assistant and then to my Mum, who was chuckling. I was about 15 and visiting her during the school holidays (I grew up with my Dad). It turns out the sales assistant remembered a three-year-old me having a tantrum in the shop because Mum made me have sensible brown shoes and not the shiny red ones.

It seems shoes were a thing for me from a young age.

You wouldn’t necessarily look at me and think they were a thing these days; my default position when it comes to footwear is Converse, biker boots or flip flops/thongs, depending on what the weather is doing. But they so are a ‘thing’! For me the right footwear can provide that subtle boost in the way some women draw on the power of a good dress, statement jewellery or the right lipstick.

I was chatting to a friend once about why I love shoes so much. I talked about how if you’re bigger and can’t guarantee walking into any shop and finding clothes that will fit then shoes are a failsafe option for looking and feeling good. That’s a plausible reason for sure, but I can’t work out now whether I still believe it. Certainly anything that draws attention away from my middle bit and to my legs is a win, but I do have a tendency to imbue things with unnecessary meaning. I think maybe I just love shoes!

Shoes help orchestrate the mood. 40th birthday party? Damn right I am going to wear silver glittery heels. Nobody has better shoes than the birthday girl. Off on a work trip to Africa? Slipping on Birkenstocks as I leave for my flight will instantly get me in the zone. Serious and dull work meeting? Fuck that – pink shoes! A shoot with a youth charity? No chance of holding my own fashion-wise but the silver loafers will at least help me pretend.

And I get stupidly sentimental about footwear. My first marathon runners will probably be in my coffin! I still have the lilac heels I wore to my best friend’s wedding 15 years ago, but it was the first time I’d spent proper money on a shoe and handbag set. A few years ago my Dad convinced me to throw out the walking boots that went round the world with me in my twenties. I regret that bitterly. They walked the Inca trail with me. They gave me grip to clamber onto the roof of a train for an awe-inspiring journey through the Andes. They were on my feet when I skydived out of a plane (with two broken arms!) above Queenstown. They were my spirit shoes for a year!

But I don’t have shoes for everything.

“You don’t have shoes just for sex?” asked my friend, incredulously.

 “Er…”

Shoes just for sex? That just seems the most bonkers idea to me. Of course certain shoes make me feel sexy. I’ve had sex wearing shoes. Against walls, in pub toilets, on a ferry to Ireland. Quickies. Outside. Snatched moments. But the idea of having shoes that never leave the bedroom, that you put on for sex? Well, I think that would just make me giggle self-consciously! I may have found the part of my life where shoes just can’t boost my mood…

Red ShoesBut I do have red shoes now. They have 4 inch heels. When I wear them I’m 6′ 2″. They make me feel fierce!

 

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Seven Swans a Swimming…

Trigger: rape

Rubens Leda and the SwanNot quite within 72 hours but I am working on the assumption I’ll get away with it, not least because Exhibit A likes a geeky list! I must confess, this is random even by my standards, but I do *love* researching random things and I had a couple of swan facts bubbling round my head, so I thought I would see if I could make it to 7…

  1. All swans were ugly ducklings once. C’mon, I couldn’t not mention this favourite childhood fairy-tale about self-image when this is a body positivity blog, could I? There are all sorts of moral tales in Hans Christian Anderson’s story of personal transformation, not least the negative impact of bullying others about and judging ourselves on appearance.
  2. Derrick SantiniHelen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was conceived when Zeus, disguised as a swan, rapes her mother Leda. Artists have been depicting this story for centuries. From Rubens (above) to more recently Derrick Santini’s photograph which was removed from a London gallery on the grounds it condoned bestiality.
  3. Swans are not as monogamous as we once thought. Famous for mating for life and being symbols of fidelity atop many a wedding cake, it turns out the myth isn’t quite true. In 2006 the Australia Research Council found 1 in 6 black swan cygnets were the result of copulation away from the permanent partnership. Less scientifically, the Western Daily Press reported a swan threesome earlier this year!
  4. Based in Budapest, SWAN (the Sex Workers Research Advocacy Network) is a network of sex worker-led groups and organisations campaigning for the human rights of the sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Network lobbies to destigmatize sex work, improve the working conditions and health rights of sex workers and to end violence against sex workers.
  5. hannah-woolley-recipe-bookAside from a little salt and pepper, apparently the only seasoning this beautiful bird needs is a little ginger! Or so The Queen-like Closet, a recipe book published in 1673 claims. The author, Hannah Wolley, is the second known English woman to earn an income from writing. The first, published three years earlier, was ‘bawdy’ Aphra Ben who Virginia Woolf remembers in A Room of One’s Own as “she who earned them a right to speak their mind.”
  6. According to those well-known social analysists, vouchercodespro.com, a ‘study’ of 2,124 British adults found that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ sex scene in Black Swan is the UK’s favourite sex scene.
  7. I bang on about India quite a lot on Twitter, and occasionally here, but I do love it! In Hindu culture the swan (hamsa) is the animal symbol of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. The Paramahamsa (Supreme Swan) is a title granted to Hindu masters who have achieved ultimate enlightenment.

So there you have it, some random enlightenment about majestic swans. Oh, and if you didn’t know, ‘seven swans a swimming’ represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

For more #awesomechristmaserotica hop over to Exhibit A‘s place!