One for the Ladies: The Vibrator

Women are complex. Or are they?

‘A few laughs and a stiff prick – that’s all a girl wants. I read it in a magazine,’ said Rupert Everett in the film Hysteria. Well, let’s look into that for a minute.

Can you believe that, until 1952, “female hysteria” was a common medical diagnosis? The prominent Greek physician, Galen, claimed this chronic disease – a disorder of the uterus, making women “difficult” – stemmed from sexual inactivity. Rather lends credence to Everett’s lines, no?

Eight hundred years later a Persian doctor suggested a rubbing treatment, to bring peace to “sick” women. And then in the nineteenth century, at the height of Victorian prudishness, a “cure” was offered. Let me set the scene for you, Ladies.

Sexually Frustrated

2014-02-26 09.37.35There you are in the drawing room, wearing a sexy crinoline and hoop skirt. Yeah, sure, by all means don an uncorseted tea gown if you’re a raunchier maiden.

The point is that the afternoon entails crocheting a bedspread while scones burn in the oven. And I daresay a Chopin sonata is playing in the background. Got the picture?

With no prospect of a good seeing-to later in the evening, are you feeling unfulfilled and hysterical? Well, lie on your back behind a curtain; the unrelenting scientific rollercoaster is coming to the rescue.

Diligent doctors forsook their wrists, selflessly daubed their fingers in musk oil and got to work. The treatment: apply gentle index finger pressure and circular rotation to the vulva. Reapply oil as needed.

Ah, yes, the symptoms are abating; your breathing is gaspier, your cheeks are reddening. Good steady pressure, that’s the key. My dear Watson, she seems to be “better”.

Wiggly-Jiggly Squealer

bex carringtonWrists aching, Gents? Luckily, Joseph Mortimer Granville enters the fray. An experiment with a spinning feather duster and, voila, the portable electric massager – or the Jolly Molly – was born.

Also known colloquially as Granville’s hammer – dreadful, I know – the vibrator was regarded solely as a medical tool. More doctor-delivered hysterical paroxysm than orgasm.

Well, a tweak here, a groove there, add batteries, and we have the modern day electric vibrator. Now a billion dollar industry, with names such as the Trojan Vibrating Twister, it remains the single most popular sex toy in the world today.

So why are women still so “difficult”? Maybe ask a woman living in Alabama or India, where vibrator sales are illegal. Coo, the doctors must be working overtime down there..

Beyonce Tour Europe 2014

P1010206For those who don’t know Namibian, I’ve included a picture. Here he is, twerking in Glasgow, as we begin the second European leg of the Beyonce Tour. Notice anything different about him?

‘I’ve lost nine kilos and can see my dick now,’ he brags. But that’s not what I meant. No, this frothy soul – cerebral, yet light-hearted and loving – seems to have a blemish upon his upper lip. (Click here to see why a moustache was no longer in vogue at least as far back as 2010.)

Moustache?

A soup strainer? Worn by a man with congenital sex appeal? I’m not sure I like the bungling cut of his jib. Ah, but he has an excuse. ‘It’s to keep the women away,’ he explains slowly, as though giving dictation to a five-year-old stenographer. Eh?

P1010208‘Yeah, well I’m not getting married again,’ he sighs. Wow, the lengths he has to descend to to avoid wife number four, eh? In contrast to the rest of us, this unprepossessing bedroom ninja has to make an effort to look less attractive. Agile – and comprising a mind with no horizon – he snaps his fingers and girls appear, much like kittens relish catnip. Move over George Clooney.

Or no moustache?

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know that I’ve talked him out of this foolishness. The electric razor whirs; the stain is deleted. Phew! As Andrew Davidson once wrote, ‘Abstinence is a bridle that gives the spirit a chance in the eternal quarrel with the body.’

P1010207Well, tsk to the spirit. Crudely paraphrased, the 1940s are over and moustaches oughtn’t to be worn unless it’s Movember. Welcome back, Namibian. Here’s to a great 2014 tour.

In other news, the Beyonce show is still fantastic. We’ve now reached Birmingham – thank you, your sympathy is appreciated – and the rest of the tour dates can be found here. Don’t hesitate not to drop in for tea if you’re passing. More soon..

Slovenia is a Country..

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As sure as day follows night, mistakes are made. But to some – namely Slovenians, when they’re being lumped in with Slovakians – this can be a matter of intense vexation. Slovenia, believe it or not, is an actual country. And given that she’s winning medals at Sochi’s Winter Olympics, let’s put her, together with her peculiar-sounding capital, Ljubljana, firmly on the map.

‘Where do you reckon Ljubljana is?’ I asked a well-read fellow the other day. Now I say well-read because he owns a bookshop. But I have a sneaking suspicion that he spends most of the day drinking wine, never in fact dusting a tome, let alone opening one.

Slovenia has a Capital!

P1000933‘Ooh, don’t tell me,’ he agonised, face creased in concentration. He swept a silver strand from his furrowed forehead, narrowed his eyes and gave what is a fairly standard answer in the UK. ‘Poland. No, Ukraine? Agh! Lithuania, maybe?’ Now if you were from a capital city, would you be a little put out by this? The Slovenian girl standing next to me, however, “took it on the chin”, as we say in proper countries.

The ensuing question often arises: ‘Is Slovenia different to Slovakia then?’  Well, yes, these two countries don’t even share a border. But you may be interested to know that staff of Slovak and Slovenian embassies meet once a month to exchange wrongly addressed mail. Rest assured that plenty of others are getting it wrong, too.

Slovenia or Slovakia?

What does it matter? Good point. Actually, there’s a super line addressed to a Slovenian model in the film Wolf of Wall Street. The guy says, ‘Slovenian. Slovakian. You’re blonde.’ Classy, if bordering on sexist. But here are three reasons to visit Yugoslavia. P1000954Whoops, I mean Slovenia.

  1. Women. They’re pretty, but about the same as in Slovakia.
  2. Food. Sausage and sauerkraut is also served in Slovakia, though.
  3. Castles. Slovenia, Slovakia – they’ve both got them.

OK, three serious reasons to visit Slovenia.

  1. Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful fairytale lakes in the world.
  2. Postonja Caves, 2 million years old and stretching 21km, is the only cave in the world with a double track railway.
  3. Predjama Castle, a 700-year-old fortress, perches precariously in the middle of a 123-metre cliff.

Anyway, let’s have a round of applause for Slovenia’s Ice Hockey team, beating Czechoslovakia in Sochi only this morning. Hooray! Oh, I do wish they’d stop inventing countries during our tea breaks..

Airport Craziness..

jessops 126‘Moving sidewalk ends. Prepare to step off,’ read the sign in Nashville airport the other day. Well, I wondered who that sign would benefit.

Somebody forgetting that he was on a travellator? Possibly. A blind woman? Certainly not. A cretin? Ah, we’re approaching the nub. Surely this is another example of global malaise.

I went to the toilet to escape the lunacy. Oops, I mean the restroom. But was I going in there for a rest? Or to use the toilet? Perhaps a bit of both. Mouthwash and complimentary mints were on offer; a fellow said “Good morning, sir”; and my wee wee was billed, according to the wall sign, as a “superior customer experience”. Superior to what? Maybe it was safer out of the lavatory stalls after all.

Airport Security

P1010081Nope. The next stop was TSA: Transportation Security Administration. (To those of us outside the USA, that’s the pre-flight luggage x-ray and metal detector.)

Twenty yards before two short queues a lady stood, her chestnut hair drawn back from a high forehead,  with her finger poised over a button. ‘It’s a Randomizer,’ she intoned without the slightest trace of irony. ‘It’ll tell you whether to go left or right.’

nashville09‘Let’s go crazy,’ I teased, with a faintly heady sense of adventure. ‘Press it twice and see where the arrows point.’ (I don’t get out much, you see.) Surprisingly, unaware that I was taking the piss, she complied. And do you know what? It randomly pointed left twice in a row. Ooh!

My point, however, is that anybody able to see twenty yards ahead of his own feet could pick which queue to join. But, no, the airport employs somebody to stand there and press a Randomizer. And I daresay this lady had to go on a full-day training course to learn how to safely operate the machine.

100ml Fluids

nashville06But let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a second and make fun of the English. Here’s an airport story you won’t believe – it’s just about as daft as putting speed bumps on the runway. But it’s true. Remember the time when you could still take liquids on planes?

Well, my dad once took a pint of milk from London to San Francisco in his hand luggage. What for? ‘So I could have a nice cup of tea when I got there,’ he says, deadpan. ‘I wasn’t sure whether the hotel would have any.’ Erm, they do have cows in the US, Dad.

The sniffer dogs were his undoing, though. And attached to one of the dogs’ leads was a stormtrooper, who enforced the ‘surrendering’ of the milk. Poor old dad was astonished. ‘Bastard wouldn’t even let me drink it,’ he recalls bitterly. Ha ha. Airport travel, eh? What a crazy world..

Britain’s Metric Imperial System..

P1010172‘Sherry?’ asked my mother at Christmas. ‘Just an eighth of an inch,’ replied my grandmother, wrestling with this blatant abuse of alcohol. An eighth of an inch? I thought we’d gone metric in the UK. Maybe this is a generational thing.

So in a bar the other evening, I asked a woman in her mid-twenties how tall she is. ‘Five foot six,’ she answered. ‘What’s that in centimetres?’ I continued. ‘No idea,’ she said curtly, cottoning on that there wasn’t a pint of gin and tonic to be had out of me, that it was indeed a genuine question rather than a prelude to a one-night stand.

Metric vs Imperial

P1010170Let’s get this straight, then. We teach metric in schools, but the second a pupil is released into the real world, he or she has to learn the imperial system of units and measures. Yes, carpenters are now starting to talk in centimetres, rather than saying two inches by one, but how far away is the job? Let’s say eighteen miles each way. Miles? Ah, that conveniently simple measurement of 1760 yards..

Well, let’s price the job; diesel, as you probably know, isn’t cheap. We’ll say, for argument’s sake, that the van does thirty-eight miles to the gallon. So how much is a gallon of fuel? Ah, therein lies the difficulty: both petrol and diesel are sold in litres. Stop grimacing, it’s perfectly simple. Go and get a scrap of paper and a pencil.

P1010169Now, eighteen miles return is thirty-six miles. Times that by five for the working week. Now bear in mind that a UK gallon constitutes 4.5461 litres…and, yes, you may just as well factor in that the van driver’s name is Dave. Need a drink yet? You’ve got a choice of a Queen Anne gallon of wine (231 cubic inches), or one eighth of a Winchester bushel of beer.

Units of alcohol

As you can see, we do like to make things as awkward as possible in the UK, selling fuel in litres, but beer in pints. Wine comes in millilitres, I’m told – it comes from one of those foreign places called France – but we prefer to ask simply how many bottles you’ll be needing. And then when you want to weigh yourself? Yes, we use that widely accepted measurement of sixteen ounces equalling a pound. Times that by fourteen and you’ve got a stone. I mean, how much simpler could it be?P1010168

To wit, ‘Working in base 10 hasn’t made children any cleverer,’ avers my father, that insightful font to which I am occasionally drawn for inspiration. ‘The only noticeable shift is faster thumbs from texting.’ Well, there, in  0.7 of a fluid ounce, I think you have it.

Rather extraordinary that London is still in charge of the world clock, I think..