Sunday 16 December 2007

I don't like the look of yours much

There was a programme late tonight on Channel 4 (where else?) called Addicted to Porn. In it, a mixed race young man called Eldon explained how sex with real women somehow never matched up to the experience offered by pornography. I know how he feels. In fact, I think the programme would have been even more credible if it had centred on some broken-down old 50-something rather than what I (admittedly not an expert) would have classed as a good looking young man. They showed him trying to wean himself off his addiction by burning his collection of video tapes (who uses those any more? DVD has a much sharper freeze-frame capability … I’ve been told) and going out on a date with a woman who would definitely have passed my personal “Would you?” test. But apparently he wasn’t cured.

When I was a lad, real pornography was virtually unobtainable. There was stuff on the top shelves of newsagents, but it reached standards of titillation which would now be considered commonplace in a mainstream tabloid newspaper. Stronger meat was allegedly on sale in the “sex shops” of Soho, or their equivalents in other major cities. The classic magazine format was of a size that could slip easily into a coat pocket, and it was always sold shrink-wrapped, so that the luckless punter would get it home before realizing that the contents weren’t actually pornographic at all.

One of my favourite scams was a magazine called something like Women and Animals. This featured a thoroughly lurid picture on the cover, but when the pervert who had bought it ripped the plastic covering off in the privacy of his bedroom, he would find himself flicking through an entirely respectable collection of photographs: the Queen walking her corgis, Princess Anne show-jumping and so forth. And if he was a thinking type, he would admire the brilliance with which the publisher had avoided offending in any way against the Trades Description Act.

I hasten to add that I never fell for this scam myself, but was told about it by a colleague. Obviously, he in turn claimed that it had happened to “a friend”.

However, just supposing that one could actually track down some hardcore pornography 20 years ago, who would have featured in it? Horrible old slappers, that’s who. The denizens of the sort of massage parlours once allegedly favoured by Wayne Rooney. In those days I was able to go out with beautiful young women. Why on earth would I be interested in looking at that sort of filth?

Scroll forward a couple of decades and things have turned absolutely full circle. My local garage has a shelf full of hardcore pornographic magazines in which outstandingly beautiful young women are shown performing sexual acts that are more physically demanding than anything I have ever attempted. On the other hand, in real life a man of my age and wealth can only aspire to go out with the sort of woman who might have attracted the attention of a talent scout from a porno film-maker in about 1985. Every time I go out on a date, I’m haunted by the image of a spud-faced nipper saying, in a Scouse accent, “Blimey, I don’t like the look of yours much.”

In those circumstances, it’s not hard to see why some prefer the printed or moving image to reality.

True, at least I still have some memories. It’s just unfortunate that my brain seems to have recorded them, not just on video rather than in high definition DVD, but in glorious Betamax.

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