Losers in Love

When things first got going, the first time, it was just Harry and I.

it was the mid 2000s. I had just got through university at the time. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life.

Internet porn was going through the roof, and the explosion of online filth was accessible in ways that no one could possibly have imagined. It was magazines that gave us a taste of what was out there, but the internet laid everything bare in front of us.

What started us off were the thirty second ‘taster clips’ that we could download. If we liked the taster we would search for the entire movie. Illegal hosting sites had sprung up everywhere and contained vast data of pornographic scenes, all arranged according to genre. So you could search for teens, if that was your preference. Or if you preferred older women, the search would be for mature women. There was a special name even for this category. The term milf had been popularised by the film American Pie. But few could have reckoned that this innocent sounding term would saw such a vast genre. The ‘milf’ genre is in fact one of the most popular forms of porn and has been linked to the teen category with mother/daughter combinations.

Harry’s parents had left for the summer leaving the two of us all alone in a big house with nothing but a cupboard full of wine and a widescreen DVD (and the all important high-speed broadband connection).

Did we have parties? Not really. Did we invite girls over? Hell no. You see, we didn’t know how to approach them very well and although sex was what we wanted, we weren’t sure how to get it.

Now back to the issue at hand. I had been buying soft core pornography (or mostly stealing it) for years but started to become aware of the masses of video porn freely available online. Did we masturbate? I’m sure we did. (i would go back home and do it). Masturbation wasn’t something you did in the company of others). Although there was one time in Denmark when I managed to knock one off when Harry was sleeping.

We let the computer run over nioght. Download speeds were faster then for some reason. Harry was a technological mastermind. If you wanted something downloaded, legally or not, Harry knew how to do it.

He would open up a download site (isohunt being the one used most frequently) and we would type in a search word. Typing in porn would yield the most results but Harry preferred a more specific search term  such as ‘teen’, ‘girls’ or ‘lesbians’. Sifting through all the search results took time but we were dedicated in the art of finding filth.

Sometimes my lack of particular genre appreciation made Harry lose his temper. I’ll never forget the time he shouted it me for not knowing exactly what category of porn I was interested in. I HAD JUST ONE GOAL – to see as much naked flesh as possible.

Downloading porn was great. Sometimes Harry wanted to buy the real thing. In that case, we would go to Soho and purchase some explicit DVDs. I was shocked when I first went in one of the sex shops. People were buying porn as casually as if they were going to Morrisons for a pint of milk. They had a TV above the counter showing a hardcore porn DVD. Usually a European film from the PRIVATE range. There was no typical British maker of pornography to match it. But Harry really preferred his Asian porn. Even if most of the porn was not Japanese, and most of the women were from other Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, or the Phillipines), they were still of Asian descent and had that thing that Harry was going for.

Harry looked through the racks and eventually he made his choice. He bought a compilation DVD of Asians, mostly amateurs, as well as a DVD called Sakura Tales. I never watched the first one but the second I remember strongly. It featured some fairly cliched but provocative scenes in which Japanese or Oriental (i.e. non Indian) women would recount some of the favourite fantasies before they were played out. The male performers were all white, American I suppose.

Harry got the DVDs home and although it was late, he still went upstairs with his laptop and the DVD of Sakura Tales 6 to enjoy it in a more intimate setting. This was one of the few times I can remember where Harry specifically made it clear that he was going to masturbate. I waited a few days before watching it myself.

Sometimes we would download ‘regular’ films too. However Harry really loved to rent DVDs from blockbuster video store. It was Tuesday, the day that the newest titles would hit the shelves.

I would head straight to the foreign cinema section. If there was anything strange, transgressive or just in some way ‘out there’ in its content, I would have it. What I was looking for was the shocking, disturbing or bizarre, and that meant films from Asia; Japan and South Korea in particular but also Taiwan. I rented classic film titles too. In the meantime, Harry would be laden with as many new releases as he could possibly borrow at one time. I occasionally rented a film musical such as Easter Parade to balance out the excesses of Ichi The Killer. Those films were excellently marketed and the lurid covers left me in no doubt as to what was in store for me.

The most important films took up an entire wall, and it was from this area that Harry spent most time browsing. Each film Harry rented cost £3.50. That was no small sum to me in those days.  If I was fortunate, Harry would end up renting a title that I myself was interested in viewing, but mostly the films held no appeal for me.

When the selections had been carefully made, Harry would wait in the queue patiently whenever there was a line of more than a couple of people.

I wasn’t totally naive in those days, but I didn’tconsidered working as a rental store cashier to be a dead-end job at all, in fact I would have enjoyed the chance to talk to customers and recommend my favourite films and offer suggestions.

Sometimes, Harry would buy a snack item from one of the baskets near the till. It was the usual fare: large bags of toffee “Butterkist popcorn,” “share” bags of peanut M&M’s and Galaxy Minstrels.

I never indulged in these treats, but there was a Morrisons supermarket only a short distance away.

We had all the time in the world, yet sometimes Harry was not in the mood to make a detour.

“I’m going to Morrison’s. Do you want anything?”

“How long are you going to be?”

“Not long really.

“Come back here then, don’t be long.”

I would make a quick run across the road. I had a few things I would need to buy. A good-ish bottle of wine for later. A bag of popcorn (salted). And to read up on celebrity gossip, a copy of Daily Sport. That paper was guaranteed to cover any nudity that had occurred in recent films, with pictures too. It was where we found most of this information, although the internet helped in many ways too. It provided a most useful guide called Boobs on the box, detailing the precise moment at which an actress would display herself. I caught many films I would not normally have watched in this way.

It was interesting to go on to read The Guardian’s own film guide, and find them recommending the same films but for different reasons. A film I saw because it had featured in this column was called ‘Thief’. The nudity was good but brief, the lighting in one scene was dark but in another the actresses’ breasts were shown in well-lit scenes lasting a minute. It was the first Russian film I had ever watched.

Then I would run back to Blockbusters, where, ideally, Harry would still be waiting for me in the store.

We were walking through New Malden high street when we cam towards a English man, who must have been 25 years old. He had a beige corduroy jacket and scruffy blue jeans. His lank hair was flat against his scalp.  He looked as though he hadnt had a shower to a decent dinner in months.  We were about to dismiss him as just another loser when someone came by his side.

She was wearing a black dress and denim jacket over the top. Her hair was immacualte, glossy, smooth and long. Her make-up was subtle and her cheeks were pronounced.

Harry turned to me and started to speak.

“It just can’t be. It’s not right. What is she doing with him?”

The girl grabbed the guy’s hand and nestled her head against his chest.

Harry’s eyes looked at the couple again.

“High heels? Or for fuck’s sake!”

it’s ok, I said, trying to reassure him.

“No. It’s not. I can’t stand to see a good looking girl waste herself on such a loser.”

We watched in shock as they moved past us.

“I don’t care how much money a man has, or the clothes he wears,. But when it comes  to another man’s woman, I take it really personally.”

Rob says something amusing about mince pies and we all laugh.

It was Christmas and as a result I had bought a pack of mince pies from the supermarket, I think they were from Morrison’s but I can’t be sure. We used to have mince pies when I was younger but they were usually homemade. Nothing could compare to the slightly artificial pastry crush and the attendant endorphin rush that came from biting into the soft candied fruit in viscous sludge.  It was a box of six I had purcashd and when I got them home I laid them out triumphantly on Harry’s kitchen work surface.

“Mince pies?” this was a question, but Harry wasn’t intending to eat any, he simply wanted to know what they were.

“Yeah, mince pies,” I replied proudly.

Nothing more was said about them until later on, bu

we were together to watch some of the latest DVDs. Harry had selected the Ice Harvest, a thriller starring John Cusack, whose career was by that point starting to wane.

Feeling hungry, I remembered the box that was still sitting unopened in the kitchen.

I wondered if Rob or Harry would like one to. I opened the box with a knife and slid the plastic tray out of the box, being careful that none should fall out of their individual compartments. That could sometimes happen, especilally with a full box. It was always the pies that were nearest the opening of the box that would be most likely to slide out on to the table or, worse, the floor.

I offered one to Harry who said that he couldn’t eat one as it was so near to dinner.

Rob enquired, “are those mince pies?”

Then looking at the label he announced, “Deep-filled? I always like my women to be deep-filled. It was then that I remembered the porn we had watched, where one or two men would penetrate a girl in both her vagina and anus and therefore by filling each hole with their penises they were creating an airtight seal around each orifice. This phrase from then on took on sexual connotations and every time I thought of mince pies I was unable to escape the image of vaginas and anuses in extreme close-ups being ‘filled’ by giant penises.

What was it about these pies, I wondered, that made them “deep-filled’, and therefore not like any other normal mince pies? I decided that the manufacturers must have wanted the consumer to believe that they were being given a greater quantity of mince meat filling to pie crust. If this was the case, it was hard to see how much more filling it was possible to add to a mince pie, which were by their nature limited by the size of the individual compartments.

The next day I thought of other foodstuffs that had the word ‘deep’ in them. I could only think of ‘deep pan pizzas.’ Harry bought these because they were full of toppings he liked such as barbecue meat and cheddar cheese.

The cooking methods were different, and these pizzas had thicker base, perhaps the reason why I had known them to be called pizza-pies. There were items of food that were ‘deep-fried,’ as everyone knew. But as I far I was aware, it was only mince pies that were sold as being “deep-filled.”

In which, not for the first time, Harry speaks of his love for Asian women

“Yeah, I love Asian women.”

At this time, I couldn’t relate to what Harry was talking about. Harry had been to a London university, one of the best and it was there that he had studied medicine. in which your chances of meeting an Oriental flame were significantly higher than if you attended a bog-standard university such as the one I attended.

“Could you explain why you prefer them to other women?”

“They’re hotter than white women. And they have better bodies. ”

Is there any other reason?

“You know that they are clean because they don’t sleep around. It’s not that way with white girls. They’ve been sleeping around since they were fifteen. You never know where they’ve been, or who they’ve been with.

“Is that bad? ” I ask him

“I don’t know if it’s bad but it certainly isn’t a good thing.”

Anything else?
“They have better bodies. The shape is amazing and they have incredible angles and curves.  Whereas English girls just look like a big tub of lard.”

“They might have big tits,” I suggest hopefully.

“Or they might not. Many people think that Asian women only have small breasts but it’s not the case at all; I’ve been with some who go up to 34 or 36 D, at least.”

So you are saying that people have the wrong idea about them.

“That’s exactly right.”

Harry didn’t bother to explain what he meant by this but I took it to mean that they weren’t overweight. Indeed, whenever we saw Asian (Oriental) women, it always appeared startling how much better, healhier they looked than other women. of course, I didn’t have any first hand knowledge, it was for Harry to let me know what the deal was with women, sex and relationships. I always thought that I would meet someone from my own country; but the girls at my school never showed any interest in me.


This was the end of the argument, not that I had done much to disprove his point or argue otherwise.

I’m sure that we esteemed women of all nationalities, but I don’t remember Harry ever having been as lavish with his praise towards any other race of woman. It was the days of Grey’s Anatomy ( a series Harry took to for it was filmed in hospital and therefore ideal viewing for a medical student) which featured Asian actress Sandra Oh. It was also not long after we all went crazy for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and then, in very close succession, Hero and The House of Flying Daggers.

As if to prove it, Harry turned to a copy of So Close, a 2001 Hong Kong film starring Shu Qi. Harry had met, and gone on to make her his girlfriend, a young Japanese lady called Miho. Although neither Rob nor myself ever met her, we had seen photos. Indeed, Harry had spoken of her so frequently that it felt as though we had met her in person.

Harry spoke of her strong anti-smoking stance, for example. And her love of musicals such as The Sound of Music. They had also made a plan and I believe gone on successfully to have sex in all of the major London parks. Unfortunately this union did not last. Harry travelled to the Czech Republic to carry out a year abroad as part of his medical training. Although Miho contniued to visit him as he studied there, he soon enough met a Swedish girl who started to play a big part in his life from this moment onwards.

In which Harry and I have a discussion about pizza and fail to reach an agreement on which one is our favourite

“the ideal pizza should only contain 3 toppings,” I tell a visibly bored-looking Harry.

“And of course, one of those had got to be cheese. Now some people like to smother their pizza with all kinds of unecessary toppings such as sausage and bacon, onions etc but if you do that you’ll end up with overloaded dough. Plus it’s important to get the dough right. the ideal pizza dough should be very thin with raised edges and very crisp when done, but never burnt.”

What about a nice stuffed crust, offers Harry?

That should never have happened. Why can’t people be satisfied with cheese on the top of a pizza?”

Harry says something decidedly racist

“What do you do if you see a pit full of dead black people?”

“Laugh and reload.”

Rob gave a snigger and laughed. It was Rob’s delivery that made this more acceptable. We were able to laugh at this joke, however terrible (and we knew it was) because we lived sheltered lives away from the unpleasantness of racism. There were a few students of other nationalities who studied with us, but they were clearly in the minority. They might have been admitted to the school to increase the school’s ethnic quotient. There was Abdul, an Indian student, whose accent gave us much amusement. Leonard was black, and had been at the school as long as the rest of us, but he had remained an underdog, never able to reach the

In which Rob says somehow managed to move the subject from men’s suits to women’s bodies and it makes us amused.

I had bought a suit from a charity shop. I thought that it made me look much older and respectable than I really was. But to everyone else, they thought I looked like a twat.

Rob had seen me in the suit and inquired if I was going for a “debonair” look. I nodded surely, although I didn’t know what he meant by this.

Then someone else mentioned that I shouldn’t  be wearing a double-breasted suit as they were normally favoured by gangsters. I’d never considered this fact. Then Rob announced that although he didn’t know anything about suits, he always liked his women double-breasted. After this, the subject was abandoned and I never again wore a suit, second-hand or otherwise, to school. Nowadays, it is a common sight to see people wear a suit jacket with jeans but at that time it was not something which anyone had thought to do. In fact, my wearing of the suit had caused an unexpected commotion that day I wore it to school.

I enquire about Harry’s sexual experience, and I am met with more than I bargained for.

Did you date many girls when you were at school Harry?

“No. I was not good at asking girls out generally. But when I was 16, my parents set me up on a date with the daughter of a mutual friend. We went out for a whole year.

“And that was your first serious relationship?” I enquired.

“Yes, the very first!”

I marvelled at Harry’s skill in accomplishing this so soon.

“What about the sex,” I asked.

“It was fine, ” he answered.

“We were both sixteen,” so no problems there.

“Right,” I concurred, not even thinking about age.

“Listen, I’m not saying it was anything special. The first time never is. We were doing the best we could. If anything, she was more knowledgeable than I was, which makes me doubt it was her first time.’

“But how did you do it?” I asked

“We got in to bed, started kissing, I took her clothes off and we had sex.”

But how do you get to that point? what did you do?

“We already had an idea that we were going to have sex, and when her parents went out for the evening, we grabbed the opportunity.

So you went from sitting watching a film, to full on having sex. I can’t imagine doing that.

“It’s not so hard. Just put an arm round her, or touch her knee. If she lets you continue, pull her closer to you. Then look deep into her eyes and kiss her.”

“It all sounds so hard.”

“it’s not so difficult, you’d be surprised. In that situation, your instincts take over.”

“You know Harry, I’m not sure people understand how hard it is for guys.”

What do you mean?

“Well, think about it. Every guy starts off as a virgin wanting to have sex. Every woman starts off as a virgin too, of course. but virginity in women is seen as something desirable, even valued. Whereas for men, it’s like a dirty secret, something  you need to be ashamed of.

That’s true I guess.

“Wait, there’s more.. men find young women sexually desirable. But the same simply isn’t true when it comes to young men. What women want from men is experience. Men are expected to go out and find a woman, whereas the girls are expected to do nothing more than wait patiently until someone comes along.

That’s nothing!

If it comes to finding a partner, girls can take their pick. Whereas, a man just has to be grateful for anyone who comes his way.

we take a break from the discussion of sex for a few brief moments.

Did I ever tell you about my friend, the one from school?

No Harry, I don’t believe you ever did. Well we used to call him Polio Billy. He had polio you see. he was never the same after that. But we liked him just the same.

Harry went to a better school than I did. His friends all sounded as though they had travelled from the 1950s, fresh from an Anthony Powell novel. As well as the unfortunate Polio Billy, there was someone called Peter Grimes. It was the early days of the internet, and some of the children had started a website to express their hatred of him. They had done a professional job, apparently.  The perpetrators were all severely punished, but none were expelled. I had expected Harry to show sympathy with Peter but he said he deserved it. It was all his fault for acting so superior to everybody all the time, so Harry said.

Another one of Harry’s close friends had been a twin. His name was Luke and he passed by me occasionally. He was someone far more confident than I was, and I felt sure that he was in many ways much closer to Harry than I was.

But he never joined us at the house for our film and food extravaganzas. Not that we had ever invited him of course. but there was another guy that we were sometimes close to as well, but he made hAARRY so angry sometimes. He was called Micheal lintott. he had an extremely flat looking face, like someone had smashed it in with a brick.

Then there was the black leather diary that we were all issued with on the first day of term, a hard, bound book where we listed all of our academic memoranda. Or we were supposed to. in my case, the diary was a very suitable reminder of the day when a new pornographic magazine would hit the shelves. they were published monthly, but I like to keep track anyhow. So for example, I knew that Club International would be published towards the end of the month, and that Mayfair magazine was issued in the middle of the month. This way, I never had to wait very long until the new magazine came out. It was a great feeling when I was in the middle of a particularly challenging lesson, only to look down at the dirt and see, “oh look, the latest copy of Mensworld is about to hit the shelves. I must go to the shops immediately!”

There were several shops I would visit for these purposes. The newsagent chain Forbuoys carried the main titles I was interested in. They sat in their ferried ranks on the top shelf near the counter. They were sold as they were. There were no plastic sleeves in the old days. SO you could have a flick through the magazines contents before committing to a purchase. I hardly ever worried about it. I had more than enough money from my paper round to cover the 2.65 for the magazine. Then, I would take the magazine to the counter, and present it to the cashier with a copy of the Daily Sport. I bought the newspaper daily, but on those special days when the magazines were published, I wrapped the magazine in the newspaper before looking at it at home.

Those days were extra special when i had the magazine as well. the newsaper was one thing. There were many topless women, but the pages were easily torn and often became loose. the magazines were far better and lasted longer. If I ever ejaculated near the pages, which rarely happened, I would carefully remove the semen. I certainly wouldn’t close the magazine without doing this. The pages would become glued together and it was usually the final pages of the girl’s spread that would be affected by this. Once two pages became stuck together, they were gone from the magazine. To try unsticking them would be a disaster.

Ocasionally we would read the magazines as a group. They would be brought out to the table and placed in the middle in a neat pile. There was no particular order or etiquette to these group reading sessions. It happened that certain magazines were more popular than others. But we always waited for someone to finish leafing through a magazine before asking ‘have you finished with that copy of Mensworld?”

Some times these sessions would be fuelled by alcohol and that spurred us on to be more vocal about our appreciation. If Harry liked a model, he would say something on the lines of ‘she looks like a dirty bitch.’  I never found these comments to be in any way demeaning. Whenever I bought Playboy, Rob would be the first to look at it. It was the one magazine likely to feature famous or recently famous people. For example, when I bought the copy with Stacey Dash, Rob stared at it for several minutes. The rest of the magazine was never looked at in detail and there was no question as to why we bought it. It was handed round carefully between us, and it was certainly a talking point.

When we came to some undesirable people near us, Harry couldn’t keep his disgust hidden. These people, the ugly, fat, stupid people who were in every corner of the town, miserably huddling together or scaring passers by by, were so hated by Harry that one day he cried out, ‘If it were down to me, I would shoot them all. I would! I would shoot them all!’

But as for Rob, he took people in his stride and was known for not choosing his friends carefully. Sometimes, when Harry was away somewhere, or studying, I joined them too. Rob had several such friends that would have appalled Harry. There was Dean, a lumbering ox who worked as a mechanic. There were several girls, but I no longer know their names.

August 2003, the Ian Huntley murders

I was smoking Peter Stuvescent cigarettes, the 100 kind. i liked the adverts i had seen from old magazines showing happy and attractive people engaged in outdoor pursuits.  I had been engaged deeply in the story of the kidnapped schoolgirls and like the rest of the country I was hoping for their safe return. The pub in which we sat in was quiet, the summer sun had sent most people drifting away to the sea, but it was the mahogany lined bar that I most wanted to be in. Harry, with his vigorous and strong complexion, was always a  fine companion who was full of good spirits, and was at this time explaining to me his life in Prague, where he was studying  medicine. Harry enjoyed it very much, but when I asked him about the girls he couldn’t say much, because his girlfriend was from Sweden, as a result he never really had much to do with the local girls.

What i wanted to know, though, was what had happened to the missing schoolgirls. It had been two weeks since they had gone missing.

“What happened? are they ok?”

“Didn’t you hear? They were both murdered. Their bodies were found today at the caretaker’s house….”

The case of English people buying everything cheaply

Well it’s just a pile of shit. everything that people buy. Nobody wants to spend any money these days. It’s a vicious circle and it’s getting worse and worse. People don’t have a clue about quality, they only think about price. Everywhere I look it’s Poundland, Lidl and Primark. You would hope that people would have more decency, and try to improve themselves, but they don’t.

They know that they are stupid, and they are proud to be so, whereas anyone half-way intelligent is treated with disgust.

As if to prove his point, an appalling-woman, totally dreadful in every way – wearing so much cheap polyester that she might spontaneously combust at any moment –  stood outside a bargain shop armed with carrier-bags filled with poor qaulity goods.

“This country is going down hill so fast, it really is.”

I looked around desperately, hoping for a sign that Harry was wrong, that not everyone was the way Harry explained it. But I couldn’t find any. things really had become as bad as Harry had said. It was very hard to stay positive when faced with so much degradation everywhere. I wanted to believe that things would get better but it was not easy with so many reminders everywhere to the contrary.

You could see hideous women, like something barely human, pushing fierce looking, shaven-headed brats in their buggies. Their children were doomed already, doomed to a life of utter failure. These people lived in the outskirts. They bred young, as early as 15. They were no better than rats, as far as we were concerned. They one chance at life was squandered, so they took this out on the rest of us by churning out their spawn.

We take a look inside my sister’s bedroom, exploring unknown territory. 

One Friday night,when we had left the pub early, we were at my house with nothing to do. This was in the days before we had full digital television, and my parents, being the luddites that they were, had not seen fit to install any satellite in the house. We were at a loose end until I remembered that my sister had gone away for the weekend and left her room unopened.

Now, I had been inside my sister’s room many times, to briefly borrow something, or to politely ask the music to be turned down, etc. I knew that it was not really acceptable to go snooping around. But we were bored. Harry was the first to raise the idea, and Rob laughed one of his nervous laughs.

“I don’t know. it might not be the best idea. What do you think?”

He was always careful not to take sides and clearly he didn’t want me to be pressured by Harry.

I looked at Harry. He had that look in his eyes that he always had whenever he was excited about something. Harry took a quick look at his glass, downed it in one and dropped it in the sink. He hurried upstairs. I looked around at the piles of magazines, mostly pornos, that were littering the floor. They were swept up in a minute. Then I emptied the ashtrays, and as a defensive plan, opened the window and held down a deodrant can for five minutes.

I could hear some muffled laughter coming from upstairs. I could scarcely imagine what they were finding so funny. I paced around. Not sure what to do. Finally, I made my way upstairs. I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of what we were doing, but I didn’t imagine that we would find anything too bad.

My sister’s room was  the first room to the right of the stairs. Normally, I was used to standing outside and knocking, before she called out at to me to come in. This time, I simply barged straight in. It was strangely liberating feeling. I looked at the bed. The sheets had been left unmade and the duvet was at an untidy angle, nearly falling off.

Have you found anything yet?

Harry was crouching down on the floor, carefully examining the boxes of old magazine cuttings, receipts and postcards that were stashed away. He looked up.
“Nothing really.”

Rob was standing watching him, looking unsure.

“Come on there must be something. What about the wardrobe?”

Rob looked over at me.

“You sure you’re ok with this?”

“I guess it’s fine. Harry, make sure that you put everything back.

He didn’t look up. He was clearly engaged in rustling through the layers of coats and school uniforms that were lined up carefully inside the wardrobe. I wasn’t sure he would find anything. Maybe some alcohol or cigarettes would be stowed in there. but nothing else really damaging. I’d always considered my sister a fairly known quantity. But there were some things I couldn’t be sure about.

“Is your sister having sex?”

“I don’t know.”

It was a little strange that I couldn’t answer this question. I should have been able to say one way or another. I lived with her. Yet I didn’t know at all.”

Harry had a box of medication in his hand.

He looked closely at the printed label on the front.

“These look like birth control pills.”

No. I don’t think so. Not here. I can’t think of anyone she would be having sex with.

Harry looked at me. “What else could they be?”

“I don’t know, Harry; migraine pills?”

If they were migraine pills, why would they be hidden at the back of a wardrobe? And what’s this?

uh oh. Harry had found something else.

“Water-based petroleum jelly. For internal use only. You know what it’s for, don’t you.”

I looked back at Harry uncomprehendingly.

“Usually it’s to make sex less painful for the woman. In your sister’s case. ”

“I think maybe we’ve seen enough. Let’s put it all back and pretend this never happened.”

Harry shoved the jelly and the box of pills back inside the drawer.

For a few days, I didn’t think about the discovery much. It was not that I diddn’t want to. I had always thought of my sister in other ways and I was realising that their was another side to her that I now had to take into account.  I thought about when she was having sex.

It was strange that I hadn’t been aware of it. The women in porn looked sexual, but my sister simply looked like an ordinary teenage girl.Things were much more complicated than I had realised. Of course, I knew that teenage girls had sex. There were surely several girls I had known at school who had already done it. But my sister, well, I couldn’t believe it.

Harry approached me about it the next day and said that he actually was very attracted to my sister.

What do you mean? I asked. I had never Imagined him looking at her in this way. It made me realise that there was another side to her that I’d never thought about before and it was hard to know what to make of it.

Harry looked back at me sheepishly.

“you’re not angry at me?”

“No not at all”

In fact, I was actually feeling flattered that someone would look at my sister in this light. It was the first time that anyone had pointed out that they found her attractive.

We talk about jobs and the best ones we can imagine doing.

Of course, I had thought a little bit about what I wanted to do in the future. But being in that far-off place known as the future, it was difficult to accurately picture my older self. I had of course a great many things I thought I would like to do when I was an adult. To be an actor was one of them. Then I had the idea that it would be fun to be a newspaper journalist. Where I obtained these ideas, I cannot say. I had known no family members in either of these professions and thus I had no one to emulate. I was actually rather shy, but I had always enjoyed the limelight. In fact, this had been ever since performing in a nativity production in what was a typicallly ‘straight’ retelling of the Christmas story. I had enjoyed treading the boards so much that I continued as an amateur dramatics actor.

Harry’s path was already well planned. He was on the long road to becoming a doctor and was halfway through medical school. for me, meanwhile, my future was far less certain, and I didn’t have any long-term plans.

As for marriage, that seemed especially far away, if not completely illusory. I had not, at age 22, had a single girlfriend, and I knew that I was quite far behind everybody else of my generation. I could only imagine what it would be like to have a relationship, let alone marry anyone.

I held very strong romantic views. For example, it was difficult to picture any of my romantic crushes in sexual situations. Although I had plenty of thoughts that were sexual. I mean, I never debased these romantic attachments to women I knew in this way. I was making the very common mistake of putting these women on a pedestal. I thought that they were so much better than me. I could hardly imagine what it would be like to be alone with on of them. But it was impossible to avoid doing this.I think that the girls who we lusted after realised that they held a certain power over us.

We stood as teenagers in line for the lunches, and would admire the girls we saw walking past, comparing them to each other. The school uniform made it relatively easy. Most girls did, at that time, wear skirts. There were scarcely any who wore trousers. A few did wear strange contraptions which appeared to be skirts but had separate compartments for each leg. Something about this made us feel terribly betrayed. But it was a glorious time for girls. Back then, we had the opportunity to talk to more girls in one place then we would ever have at another stage in our lives. But in some cases, we were not afforded enough opportunity to stretch the basic conversation to a level beyond, ‘did you do the homework for maths?’ Before they were interrupted by someone else. The dinner hall gave us some opportunity for interaction. However, Rob and I were restricted to the area reserved for those who ate their own lunches and sat in that particular area. The others who had food at the canteen were more fortunate in who they could talk with.

It was no easy thing to interrupt someone in the dinner hall. There was the fact that it meant getting up out of your seat to go to where they were sitting, then you had to gain their eye contact and perhaps interrupt them if they were involved in a conversation with somebody else. There were times when I thought I would be able to pull together enough courage to talk to a girl but I would be forced to sit back down half way through when the enormity of what I was doing hit me. I suppose that nothing had prepared me for the task of asking a girl on a romantic date. I wouldn’t have known what to say or learn whether she was interested in me or not. i didn’t have a car or access to alcohol that I felt would be needed to gain a woman’s interest.

The school uniform seemed to have just one skirt. It was grey, and it was pleated with a triangle cut out of it. Yet this basic garment  was worn in myriad variations. In some cases, the girls wore it till right below the knee. Other girls were the band high above the waist so that was a wide area from the mid thigh exposed. Some of the girls seemed to have incredibly long legs. As for the jumper, when girls wore this we were limited to the outline of breast, but in the summer we saw a lot more. the shirt could be unbuttoned a few buttons leaving the bra more or less visible.

It must have been in the first year of my secondary school that I thought about which girls were attractive and which ones weren’t. the slender legs were easy to spot and the girls with breasts who matured early. By age 13, I knew exactly who I liked at school and who I didn’t. Cards were sent and presents were bought. There were adequate occasions to show appreciation for these girls. the Christmas disco being one  occasion. The party I remember was held on the Friday before the Christmas holidays. I was 13 at the time. The year was 1995. It was exciting in those days to be out after dark. the music was loud and there were brightly-lit disco lights. What I remember most is holding on very tightly to Melissa, a girl who I believe was my most potent crush of all.

her face was nearly angelic, as I remember. But not only her face, her hair and eyes too. It was black and long, and silky smooth. I hadn’t been aware of race in my attractions. Melissa was in fact at least half-Korean so was this the start of my interest in girls from South-east Asia. I had waited the whole night to have a dance with her. In my anguish at the thought that this would not happen I crushed an empty can and nearly cut open my hand. But eventually she relented. She let me feel her soft skin and as she leant closer I could taste her warm breath on  me. I was as happy as I had ever been. It was an intense short-lived happiness, the sort that ran out quickly. It was almost too intense. That evening going home I could think of nothing but Melissa. There were two worlds as far as I was concerned. there was my everyday existence, which consisted of quiet family life, the games of monopoly on weekends. School work occupied he same reality. Then there was the world of Melissa. When I thought about her, everything else faded away. It was more exciting and deeper time. I knew instantly which world I wanted to be living in.This world was only available for a short time. I knew that school was the only time I could spend with Melissa. This was only for a short time. We spent only a few classes together.

In those days I felt that there was nothing I wanted more than to be with her.

I could not see anything negative at all about the girls I longed for. They were so far away from me. Although I had on occasion shared some tender moments, they were fleeting, it would be best to say. I could not imagine ever being properly alone with any of them.

In my dreams, my imagination ran wild. I was irresistible to these girls and completely   attractive. I was able to say exactly what was necessary at the right moment. If, as was often the case, there was someone else who was also attracted to them, I pretended that this wasn’t the case. In fact, I liked to think that there was an alternative reality. The real situation would soon reveal itself and the world would revert back to normal.

I was not under the impression that my life was in any way unpleasant but I was, I feel waiting for something that was going to make me realise what life was about.

I had in Harry, a fellow kindred soul. I could tell him everything, truly everything. and this was a fairly new experience. I had a close relationship with Rob as well, but it wasn’t quite the same. There were moments I felt when Rob wasn’t entirely absorbed with what I was saying and would drift off. on the other hand, Harry was always listening and pre-empting me.

When I think back to my early adulthood, it went by in a flash.

I don’t mean literally. I seemed to wait a long long time to reach 18. And when I did so, the supposed independent milestones that I had looked forward to were an inevitable disappointment.

I looked forward to the day I could buy alocohol. And then, a year after I had tried the various liquers. spirits and beers, I began to become used to them.

I still drank of course, and many times there were several bottles gone by the end of an evening. but it was no longer with a sense of discovery that I was drinking. The end goal that I was seeking was well planned out and I know exactly what outcome I should expect.

Sex was harder to come by and I didn’t know where to look. THERE were books and magazines on the subject that gave me some ideas, but theory was different to the practise.

I had reached the age of eighteen with out so much as kissing a girl, but my attractions to various different women were very real. I was very sure here about the girls I liked and the women I didn’t. It was possible to meet women I liked, but it didn’t happen very often

I had spent four years as a school pupil with only a faint awarness of sex, the female body and anything else for that matter. I was the classic innocent, where others seemed to be experts.

I had seen, for several years, the naked female form in magazines and newspapers. The internet was not around in those days but it was possible to see nearly naked women in newspapers (Daily Sport). Full nudity was rarer and i had only a basic idea of female anatomy. The magazines often showed naked women but they were mostly well covered in pubic hair, and there was too much of it for me to see anything. It was distant territory for me.

Coming from a female family. it might have ben thouyght that I would have had some adcantages when it came to women but I doubt that it helped me very much at all/ Harryhad in fact said something similar. He railed against the fact that his sister had been so confident when he had felt himself very awkward and confused socially. The same problem did not befall me, thank god, but I was unsure of the correct way to speak to the women that I didn’t know. I was angry and wanted to blame someone. Th teachers had let me down by doing nothing to smooth my path. There were girls in the school that I went to and my nightly fantasies were what kept me going. Unfortunatly there were few opportunities for us to become close.

Once again, I feel that more could and should have been done to facilitate sexual interaction.

The school organised a couple of field trips and similar things. My interest in sport was non-existent but there were better possibilities at the drama club, where i did not feel such an outsider. But there I was outnumbered by other similarly artistic  types and the behaviour that set me apart at school was here in abundance.

Christmas Eve

It was early on in Christmas eve. I had gone out briefly for a bottle of Cointreau and just at that point heard the news that Joe Strummer had died. I was dimly aware that this event was somewhat important but I couldn’t grasp the wider significance. Meanwhile, Harry was making plans for his own Christmas. He had invited Seokhyun, one of his Korean girlfriends that he was half-committed to in a half-hearted kind of way.

What are your plans Harry?

“We’re meeting at mine in the morning. I’ve got some vol-au vents that i’ve bought from Waitrose. We’ll drink some wine. And later,  we’ll open some presents and then, with any luck, she’ll open her legs.”

“Very classy, Harry.”

‘what did you expect?’

‘What happened?’ I asked Harry the following day.

Very much as I expected. She pretended to be iunnocent and coy but underneath all that she was a nasty little slut.’

It’s what I’ve always suspected: all women want it. But not everyone wants it with you. you need to find the ones who are genuinely interested in you and will let you do what you want.

So when it comes to sex, women give off some subtle signals which you will notice if you are smart. But many men aren’t really clever enough to see when women are giving the, the clues. it’s the reason why they carry on chasing the same woman long after she’s made it clear that she’s not interested.

I’m not talking about tricking women. To don’t have to persuade women to like you or let you do things that they don’t want. When it comes to sex, women want it just as much as men do but they’re told by a moralistic culture that they need to be ashamed of themselves.

In truth I wasn’t really sure.It always seemed as though Harry knew what he was doing when it came to women.

It was one of those days. I had endured a series of events that were not in themselves annoying but that taken together amounted to a very tragic episode.

It was a bit like the moment when you walked towards a stranger approaching you in the street and found that when you moved on way to avoid them, they moved the same way too. I put it down to events outside my control.

Meanwhile, Harry was going through his own unfortunate personal crises. The first setback was when Harry’s application to medical school was declined, sent back to Harry with what they called their ‘sincere apologies.’


Harry’s romantic life was also in the doldrums.

it had been two months since Christmas, and Harry was keen to get out and meet women. The only problem was that he had already decided that h wasn’t going to meet any decent women nearby.

Then someone mentioned the option of a speed-dating event. This would be preferable to a more traditional date where you only met one person the whole evening.

Harry signed up to the evening. It was a fair sum he paid too.

Harry decided he needed to buy some new clothes for the occasion. that meant a whole day was given aside to buying new trousers and then a shirt to match. Harry had also decided that he would need to take some attention to his grooming. His hairy chest, which had never been an issue before, was now considered hopelessly unsuitable for the modern age.

The term metrosexual had recently entered Harry’s vocabulary and he decided to apply its tenets to his own life.

But back to the porn. Harry took us to Soho which was where you could buy the really good, unlicensed material.


the good looking girls also went with the best looking guys who we felt sure, would never apprecitate them in the same way we would do. and consequently. we always felt ourselves at a disadvantage. it felt as though you had to be very good looking, or very rich to be able to fit into that world. Why was it that only good looking people were having sex?