17 October 2002
One of the strange things about Gillian Freeman's classic The Leather Boys, is that in most of the reprint editions I have encountered, nothing on the cover or the back suggests that this is a touching tale of two lost boys finding each other. And each other's cocks. Instead, the tendency seems to be for illustrations and blurbs highlighting the amorality of an abandoned generation, accompanied by pictures of, to be strictly accurate, absurdly camp bikers. This reached its apotheosis in a printing daubed with a photograph of a man dressed in what were presumably meant to be biker's leathers, but looked good for protection against little more than a spilled G&T at Torture Garden. The fact that the man looks like the bastard lovechild of Rick Wakeman and Thor, god of thunder, did little to dispel the impression that somebody, somewhere had MISSED THE FUCKING POINT.
But anyway, to the purpose. Dot, the bovine wife of one of our disenchanted petty criminal heroes, and an early role for Rita Tushingham, has little to recommend her as a provider of uxorious succour, even before we take into account the fact that her husband is just waiting for the right biker boy. One night, her reluctant husband notes with relief that the box containing her diaphragm is empty. This is a source of some relief for him, as it means she has already entertained a gentleman caller while he was out at the dance hall, and is keeping it in for the requisite six to eight hours, and he can therefore in good conscience decline any forthcoming requests for pleasuring.
Hold on a second.
Six to eight hours? This is the kind of thing they just don't teach you on civil engineering courses. Six to eight? So, the entirety of the post-coital doze, or twice as long as the bitter weeping in the living room as your partner sleeps on uncaring. Do we have to do that with condoms, too, just to make sure the little fuckers are dead, dead, dead? We should be told.
It all seems terribly old-fashioned. Like refrigerated Valpolicella and pet rocks, it feels like a hangover from another age. What people used to use. What your mum used. When she had sex. Casual sex. With many different partners. She loved it. Your mum's a bit dirty, really.
Every fellow with a feeling for the feminine has their first diaphragm moment. When the finger comes into contact with a strange creature, suckling at the cervix. How this offspring of Harawayan cyborg and Hellenic cuisine is dealt with is a decision that will echo down the ages. Abject fear is not acceptable. This is the 21st Century. People have their eyeballs pierced with their own steel-shod scrotums, for God's sake. A mild curiosity is entirely permissible, however. As if you had found a Cream album in their CD collection. Both will have the same origin.
Mild curiosity will inevitably reveal that their previous boyfriend (who was older) was a spontaneous kind of guy. Spontaneous and sensitive. He didn't want the cold impersonality of the application of the condom to get in the way of a beautiful, shared moment. It is considered unwise to comment on his bravery on having manfully crammed or attempted to cram this very sensitive member up half the fifth form. Especially if you are at an all boys school. Better by far to let pass without comment that Mr. Sensitive preferred to keep the beauty of the moment immanent by demanding a preemptive solo session steering a furled flag of convenience into harbour. No points will be scored by this. Be understanding if slightly incredulous.
You will have dislodged it by now anyway. She will retreat. You will hunt for a condom. Trust me, it's better this way.
And, six months down the line, when the whole thing is a distant memory or humorous anecdote for an online journal, you may drop in on her, and surprise her. If the questing fingers that have shed so many cells as to be whole new fingers happen to striate a shield of galvanised rubber, if you should ask why she has the long-forgotten diaphragm in place, and should she respond with wide dark eyes:
What are you talking about? I haven't.
Say nothing. Kiss her, remember an appointment. Return in five to seven hours.
These are the rules. This is what is right.
I'm afraid I can't help with your mother, though.