My first shock of the evening was to find my darling sister Bea already at Saskia’s getting stuck into the Chardonnay. My second was at the sheer range of, erm, instruments that are on the market. Once we were all seated (apart from Saskia, me, Bea, Lydia, Marjorie and Jane Opposite there were about fifteen assorted friends of Saskia’s crammed into her living room and spilling out into the hallway) Flora produced a garishly coloured box and gave us a bit of spiel about the company she was representing. As my only experience of Ann Summers (and let me say here and now that I have nothing against Ann Summers and all she/it stands for) was a rather giggly tour with Charlie when we were in Bromley last Christmas, I was a bit wary of the contents of the box. As well I might be.
Edible knickers (please, for the love of God!), mini whips, pens in the shape of male members, a set of boobs keyring (imagine whipping your keys out in front of the boss with that on there) love dice (don’t ask), ice cube trays (who would want a couple of frozen willies in their vodka and tonic?) and a bondage teddy. A teddy bear dressed in a red PVC outfit and gimp mask. I did fleetingly think of Mac’s request for a present but, as I didn’t want Social Services battering down the door, I dropped that idea pretty damn quick.
We all sat there in silence (apart from three of Saskia’s colleagues who had, they informed us, been in the pub since half one) in complete awe at what was being passed around. I decided that I was being incredibly uptight and decided to get into the spirit of the occasion by attempting a few cracks with a whip. It was at this point that I caught my big sisters eye and threw it down on the table as if it were contagious. Marjorie of course was having the time of her life and was giggling like a loon. It got worse when the outfits came out.
Now, speaking for myself, I love a man in a uniform and yes, there is an element of fantasy in there. A fireman heroically rescuing me from a burning building or a policeman cautioning me for a wrong doing whilst seducing me makes me sit and stare into space when in reality both scenarios would freak me out completely. If I was in the presence of a fireman and a burning building I’d be more worried about if everyone were safe than appearing seductive and if I was ever cautioned by the police, the sheer shame of it would make me unable to look anyone in the eye ever again.
David has never suggested that he would like it if I paraded around nightly in various outfits and, to be honest, I’ve never asked him if he would. When I revealed this to Flora and the assorted guests there was a mass intake of breath. “You....mean.....you’ve NEVER.....like NEVER.....asked him if he'd like you to dress up? Like....NEVER?” said Flora in disbelief. Half of the room was looking at me agog, the other half (including Bea, Lydia and the mousey blonde from Saskia’s gym who blushes every time a man walks through the door) were looking at the floor. “How many other women have not asked their man if they would like to indulge in some dressing up?” Reassuringly, half the room put their hand up.
The outfits on offer included a policewoman (a black PVC mini dress, whistle and handcuffs - which you had to buy separately), a nurse (a white PVC mini dress with stethoscope and hat), a sex kitten (black body stocking with a set of kitten ears on a head band) and an airline stewardess (a pink PVC mini dress and a jaunty hat a la Steps in the Deeper Shade of Blue video. But in pink). “No French maid outfit?” Bea asked as she trawled through the rails which set off a storm of guffaws.
Outfits done, we moved onto the gadgets (which is a euphemism for all kinds of strange battery operated items let me tell you). I have Delicate Readers to consider so I shall draw a veil over many items on offer. Suffice to say we were all in hysterics as one or two of the, shall we say, larger items were passed round and demonstrated. Flora, who must be well used to having a room full of cackling drunk women, was a little bit mystified at our general restraint and sheer disbelief. “What could you do with that?” Lydia asked, brandishing a twelve inch phallic shaped piece of rubber that could gyrate and pump when the necessary buttons were pushed. Which she did to much amusement and shrieking. Marjorie looked as if she’d found the Holy Grail and put her name down for one.
Flora was having to push a lot of the stock as we just weren’t interested in buying, just taking the mickey. “If I came home with that my husband would ask for a divorce!” said Saskia’s neighbour, pointing at a gadget that promised to reach parts that other gadgets couldn’t reach. “Perhaps if I came home with this, my husband would call off our divorce” said a rather washed out looking lady dressed entirely in navy blue as she shook out the policewoman’s outfit. After an unproductive hour and a half, Flora had taken to buttonholing us individually and managed to catch me as I left the kitchen bearing a sausage roll. “Now, what would you like? Or more importantly, what would your husband like?” she said with a wink as she dragged me into her room of torture.
I ummed and aahed a bit and bought a pair of chocolate boob sweets for David. I couldn’t bring myself to actually order anything but noticed Lydia toying with a set of handcuffs. She caught my eye and, me being her lover’s sort of step-mother, she blushed bright red. Bea was arguing (rather too loudly) that as she already owns and wears stockings, there’s nothing shameful about buying fishnet seamed ones. Jane Opposite had put her name down for the PVC air hostess outfit and was screeching “I’m Jane, Fly Me!” as she rummaged through the box of gadgets looking for the “purple one I saw earlier”. Marjorie had, of course, worn out Flora’s order book - she had to go out to her car to get a new one. “I’m getting one of those, one of those, two of those, one of those, oh and that!” Marjorie beamed as she waved gadget after gadget in front of my face like some sordid Generation Game conveyer belt.
I cracked in the end of course. I won’t tell you what I bought but I can assure you it doesn’t run on batteries. Besides, knowing my luck if I did buy a battery operated item, Amelia would find it as she “helped” me put the ironing away and would ask me “what sort of phone is this?”
Snuggling up to David on the sofa bed late last night I asked him if he would like me to dress up and/or jazz things up in the boudoir in any way. He replied in the negative and assured me that things were jazzy enough (especially, he added, after I’d been on the Baileys). When I told him what I’d bought and that it would arrive “express delivery”, he settled down to sleep with a satisfied smile on his face.