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Private life

In which we spare a thought for Mrs Max Mosley


In the news today: the Max Mosley trial continues. Note for readers from the future: he enjoyed a BDSM session with a group of women, who have been described widely as “prostitutes” by the media. He had these regularly, and so wasn’t expecting that one day in spring, one of them would pop a video camera down her cleavage and sell the footage to the News Of The World. Oops. So he’s suing for exemplary damages – in other words, he doesn’t just want recompense, he wants retribution.

I have to say, though, that I don’t think he deserved much sympathy. Not because he’s rich and powerful. Not because of who his father was, or because he has his own murky right-wing past. I don’t think his sex life deserves to be exposed because he has a prominent job: what he gets up to in the bedroom should have no effect on how well he can carry out his job. What does give me a moral twinge, though, is that he’s apparently been hiding his sex life from his wife for almost their entire marriage. According to his statements in court: he’s been involved in the BDSM scene, safely and without exposure, for 45 years – in other words, since his early 20s, when he was a law student active in far-right politics. However, at the same time, he said, his wife had no idea of his kinky inclination until the NotW revealed all. Mosley married in 1960, around the age of 20; from what he’s said, he must have been getting his kicks from the BDSM scene since the early years of his marriage, going behind his wife’s back for decades.

Mrs Mosley is, apparently, devastated by Max’s exposure in the press. I can imagine. It’s a lot to take in. I can’t think to imagine how she feels.

Everyone’s entitled to keep their life private from the general public – but I’m not so sure that they’re entitled to keep it private from their partner quite to that extent. It’s common, though – especially online – for men to approach the BDSM scene with an “I have these urges but I can’t tell my wife” attitude. In the general scene – what you might call the non-professional side – they usually get advised not to go behind their partner’s back; but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the money in the pro-dominatrix market comes from this sort of chap.* Mosley is, on the one hand, a sign that such men can get along happily for years** so long as the press isn’t likely to be interested in them. The BDSM community might frown on you if you want to go behind your wife’s back, but they will generally consider it to be your own business if you do. On the other hand: he’s also a sign that you can’t necessarily keep something quiet forever. When your partner does find out, you only have yourself to blame.

* For one thing: although the pro-dominatrix market is saturated, prices are still rather high, partly because although there are endless swarms of pro-dominatrixes around very few of them are very good at what they do, and partly because being a good pro-dominatrix can be pricy, just to stay stocked up with all the silly PVC clothes that the customers are paying to drool over. It’s only the well-off men who can afford to hire one regularly, and they’re more likely than average to be settled with a partner.

** assuming they can afford it. A Mosley-ish session would probably have cost him somewhere between one and two thousand quid a time, at a rough guess.

Update, July 9th: my rough guess there was somewhat on the low side. According to the report in today’s Guardian, Mosley was paying £500 to each participant. That’s about £100 per hour, or £2500 for the whole session. He also paid the rent on the flat where it took place.

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Dirty Books

In which we consider the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act


The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act gets its Royal Assent today. And it might have banned extreme porn. It might have banned some quite ordinary books, too. Nobody knows. Lord Hunt, who pushed the bill through the Lords and defeated opposition amendments, stated in the form letter he sent out to correspondants that he didn’t know what pictures would or wouldn’t be banned by the bill he was promoting; that would be up to the courts. The government defeated an opposition amendment which would have explicitly said the bill would only cover material also covered by the Obscene Publications Act. However, at the same time, the Ministry of Justice says that it does only cover this material, in any case, even though the government refused to say this in the text of the bill. Campaigners are celebrating their “fight” to criminalise Things They Don’t Approve Of; but at the same time, The Register is reporting that the law hasn’t yet taken effect, and – when they wrote that, at least – nobody had decided when it would. So, in other words, nothing is certain and nobody knows what is happening. The government hastily inserted a clause to state that it does not cover photos of events you participated in,* but nobody knows exactly what counts as “participation”. There may be more debates on what the bill actually should and should not do, or a select committee. There may, indeed, be jam tomorrow – it would certainly fit in with the general tone.

Meanwhile, people are still hard at work campaigning to get the thing dropped, or, at least, to raise enough of a stink that its unworkability becomes obvious. It’s good to see, too, the effect all this has had on kinky people around the country, too. The public face of BDSM in the UK isn’t a very good-looking one; but with this legislation on the way, lots of sane and ordinary people** put their heads out, went to the press, and said: I’m your ordinary man or woman in the street. There’s nothing wrong with being kinky, or with liking the things I like, and I don’t do anything illegal, so why are you making it illegal to own photos of the things I do?

* assuming that everything is consensual and above-board, everyone else taking part was happy and smiling and so on, of course.

** part of the reason the public face of BDSM is so ugly is that the people who stand out aren’t the sane, ordinary people; they are the ones who shout loudly because they’re in it for the money and their ego. For more on how the UK BDSM “scene” is broken, I suggest reading Bitchy Jones, when you’re not at work of course.

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Useful advice

In which we raise an eyebrow


Spotted on a building site in Harrogate, whilst on our abortive condensed milk hunt last weekend:

Useful advice

I’ll remember to tell people that in future.

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I’ve Liked You For A Thousand Years

In which we like Scott Pilgrim


The latest book in Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s Scott Pilgrim series, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, has been out in shops for a month or so, now. And it is, as expected, an excellent book. As it says on the back-cover blurb:

“Now with more kicks, punches, rock & roll, subspace, half-ninjas, experience points, samurai swords, girly action, and laughable attempts to seek gainful employment”

There’s a subtle pun in that blurb, which I’ll come to in a minute. If you’ve never read it before: Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel series, 2/3rds published so far, about a 20something Canadian slacker with a mysterious American girlfriend – who has seven evil exes, who all have to be defeated in top-notch video-game style. In the meantime he has to deal with his own exes, everyday life, and (in the new book) his girlfriend’s own feelings about relationships. She is, incidentally, a rollerskating rapid-response courier, who has learned the trick of shortcutting through other people’s dreams.* Which is how Scott initially meets her.

They intermingle reality and fantasy with a lovely deftness. Defeated villains disappear in a puff of smoke and a shower of coins – although sometimes barely enough money for the bus ride home. The realistic universe is punctuated by save points, extra-lives, and RPG-style bonus items. Alongside the fantasy, though, there’s a subtle take on the character’s feelings, emotions, and motivation, all of them entirely realistic. As I said, a lot of the new book is about the mysterious Ramona’s own emotions. Spoiler time: For the first time, it’s revealed that she’s submissive, in the D/s sense, and I suspect that will become a much more important part of the story in the final book.** It’s shown in a rather subtle way: Scott takes a shortcut through subspace, in the way he’s learned from Ramona, and accidentally gets into her own dreams, which turn out to involve subspace in another sense. She gets understandably angry; and there’s no other explanation.*** If you understand it, you understand it.

You don’t need to understand that, though, to enjoy the book; and even though as I said I think that’s going to turn out to be important later on, it’s something that will deepen your enjoyment without necessarily needing to be understood. I’m sure there are plenty of other subtle references, to other worlds, that I’m not spotting myself. I really hope the rumoured Scott Pilgrim movie makes it into production, because despite the fantastic elements, the books are a wonderful slice of life.

* Other people’s dreams being the “subspace” of the back-cover blurb.

** I’m tempted to go back through the previous books and look for earlier clues; but I’ve leant them to Wee Dave at work. I’ll have to borrow K’s copies.

*** the books are all teen-rated.

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Diplomacy

In which people are caught in compromising situations


Diplomat Of The Week award goes to the Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador, who, as you’ve probably heard by now, was found tied up and ball-gagged* by the local police. Note to the Daily Record: it is arguably in the public interest to report on the sex lives of ambassadors and other top diplomats. Charity shop volunteers: not quite the same.

* The Guardian’s sub-editor on that article seems not to understand how a ball gag** works

** NSFW link, if you hadn’t guessed

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Outing

In which we watch the media trying to whip up a storm in a second-hand teacup


You probably won’t have read this nasty story in yesterday’s Daily Record, exposing the sex life of someone who isn’t famous and wasn’t doing any harm to anyone. Not many people will have read it, because out of the population of the country not many do read the Record.* That’s not the point, really.

As I said, it’s a nasty story, about a normal, average member of the public, who enjoys kinky sex. There is nothing to justify publishing her full details in the way the paper did. Moreover, it throws a lot of light on the social conservatism of tabloid papers in general – the faux-shock that a young wife would behave that way, would want to behave that way. The only consolation is that few people ever pay attention to anything journalists say.**

The Daily Record presumably think, though, that this sort of story sells papers, especially local or regional papers. And in an effort to sell papers, they’ve let themselves be used. I don’t know NR myself, but I know several people who do know her, some people who don’t like her very much, and I know there are a few people who don’t like her very much at all. I can’t imagine that anyone I know personally would have exposed her to the press, but clearly someone, who knows her well, has done. And in all probability that person, whoever they are, does exactly the same kind of things that she does, and would be treated in exactly the same way if Cara Page Of The Daily Record had come across them first. I don’t know anything about the sex lives of the Daily Record staff, but whoever initially sent them this “story” is very likely a very nasty hypocrite.

* It seems to be widely available in England now, a lot more than, say, ten years ago.

** and they’re mostly other journalists, at that.

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A stick of rings

In which we show off something we made


Back in the mists of time – well, June – I posted some in-progress photos of my mysterious Secret DIY Project. I suddenly realised, the other day, that although most of the Secret DIY Project was finished a while back,* I’ve never shown you what it looks like completed. So, yesterday, I took them out into the garden with the camera.

Secret DIY Project Secret DIY Project

As before, if you don’t know what they are, feel free to guess in the comments box. If you do know what they are, feel free to make silly and misleading suggestions instead.

* Two of the three items I was making were 90% finished in June and 100% finished by December, when I first got to play with them. The other remains at a pitiful state of incompletion, because it’s too big and awkward to paint easily.

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Memories of the year (part three)

In which we remember a social event


This one is from back in April. I’m sat in the back of a car, with some people I don’t really know that well, travelling off to somewhere I’ve never been before. I didn’t really know where we were going, either. I mean, I knew what it was – a Social Club – what it was called, and vaguely where it was, but not exactly where. I’ve always been closely attached to maps, and not knowing where I was going made me feel a little disconnected and wary.

I was very nervous, and the other people in the back of the car could tell: knuckles clenched, quietly staring out of the window. We galloped along the motorway, and I tried to enjoy the scenery, trying to overlook my nervousness. It only got worse when I spotted the signs for the exit I guessed we’d be taking: “Netherthong, Wooldale A648″.

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Memories of the year (part one)

In which we remember someone special


Time to do some looking back. Some of these memories will be good, some bad, and none are in any particular order.

We walked onto the dark beach together, me leading, me holding your hand. It was around midnight, nobody was about, and the moonlight was bright on your face.

I led you onto the beach, and looked around to make sure we were alone. I held you tight with your arms behind your back, and felt you start to go fuzzy around the edges. I chained your wrists together behind you, looked into your eyes, and watched your moonlit smile.

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The truth

In which we are worried about the New Puritans


I’ve spoken several times before about the proposed Extreme Pornography Bill. Which will, it’s planned, criminalise possession of pornographic pictures which appear to show people at risk of serious harm.

There are a few keywords in the proposals which suggest that some of its drafters do care, at least, about trying to make sure the bill only applies to very extreme stuff. Any videos with certificates, for example, would be exempt, because the bill is only intended to apply to things which would be too extreme to pass the censors to start with. The wording is still very vague, though, and leaves convictions down to the whims of judge and jury. Nevertheless, there is plenty of reason to be worried. The bill’s drafters are not those who will use it. Whether people get convicted under it may well end up depending entirely on where they live.

A short digression: Edinburgh has two big seasonal tourist attractions you’ve probably heard of: the Festival season, and the Hogmanay celebrations. You might not have heard, though, of its third big seasonal event: Beltane. Revellers climb Calton Hill to watch a grand fire-juggling performance. Some do treat it as a religious festival, but most are just there to have a good time;* and, like the other two events, people come to watch from all over the world.

You’d think Edinburgh City Council would support Beltane, it being one of the main tourist-attracting events outside the main season. They’re generally not very supportive at all, though – their support has always been lukewarm, if visible at all. And the reason for this, it is rumoured,** is the strong evangelical Christian faction on the city council. They see the Beltane celebration as Satanic and Evil, and definitely not something to be encouraged. They may be completely wrong, but they have positions of power.

BDSM isn’t evil, but there are certainly people who think that it is. If a high-ranking police officer was of that opinion, he could easily try to use this bill to push forward his own personal opinion on it. He may think that pornography itself is evil – certainly, there are people out there who say they want to ban “all pornography”*** There’s a high chance that such a hypothetical policeman would waste an awful lot of time and money aiming this bill at harmless Sensible Pervs, just because he doesn’t like what they do in the bedroom.

A lot of people on the BDSM scene are worried that this bill isn’t just a move against pornography, it’s a move against them personally; a move by a puritan government towards directly attacking people who don’t fit their own straitlaced morality. Maybe some of the bill’s supporters do indeed think that. You might not care about that, yourself, either because you’ve never had a kinky thought in your head, or you’ve never admitted that you do. The Sensible Pervs, though, are ordinary people just like you and me, ordinary people whose acceptance of their own psychological makeup has led some of them into wonderfully deep and supportive relationships. The bus driver who drives you to work, the signalman signalling your train, the IT guy fixing your computer or the shopkeeper of your neighbourhood shop – they could all, for all you know, have sex lives far kinkier than anything you can imagine. But, moreover, at the same time they’re all ordinary people just like you. And an attack on any of the ordinary people in our communities, is an attack on everybody.

(this post was inspired by Blogging For Backlash)

* like all the men who hang around Calton Hill on all the other nights of the year, it being Edinburgh’s closest equivalent to Hampstead Heath

** but it’s likely to be pretty close to the truth, because I heard it from a senior Beltane Fire Society official a few years ago

*** and they tend to think that the definition of pornography, too, is self-evident.

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