Here we are, Babs, two seats. This reminds me of the days when we used to sneak out of college to the coffee shop in the high street. I don't know about you but I am going to have a cappuccino with lots of froth and lots of chocolate. How about you? Just a latte -- are you sure? What about one of those chocolate eclairs? No? I hope you didn't mind me calling out to you like that. Just spotted you across the street and I thought you had seen me, but then you suddenly turned down that side road. Hello, I thought, Barbara is trying to avoid me, but I knew you weren't. Sorry about the shouting. Just thought you might be going a bit deaf. Well, this is nice, not seen any of the old gang for ages and ages, not for chat. No, wait, I lie, I have seen Betty.
Yes, she is still with James. Seems he hasn't changed. Just as wet as when we were all in college. I had to tell her, I said, look, Betty dear, I'm sure he adores you but don't you think it's a little odd that he should go on about it, I mean, he is not even being furtive; what sort of man rings up from the airport and tells you he doesn't want to go on a stag party to Amsterdam with a bunch of professional people, you know, a nice bunch of people, accountants, barristers, probably a dentist or two, all of them doing well. I bet you half of them have got, oh, I don't know, BMWs, pension plans. I expect they've got platinum credit cards, half of them, I mean, you know me, I just had to tell her.
Doesn't want to go? I said. Look, dear, I said, of course he wants to go, looking forward to it, I expect, probably been waking up with a stiffy in anticipation for weeks. Nobody goes to Amsterdam to view the Rembrandts in the Rijksmuseum, or to collect tulips, what they go for is S.E.X. There are things going on there that would make your eyes bubble. Not that the Dutch partake, heavens no, none of your two in a bed sex romps for the Dutch, not the Dutch, the Dutch are too busy being liberal and doing town planning and stopping the politicians getting above themselves, no, it's for the tourists and the rabid fetishists.
Oh no, I said, no, you've got it completely wrong, Betty dear, it's exactly the respectable devoted husbands who go to brothels, that's who brothels are for, little Englishmen who know the rules, stick with their own sort, the sort who have something subtly but horribly wrong with their Y-Fronts. Fornication? Remember when we did 'Jew of Malta' in college? Christopher Marlowe's excuse- 'twas in another country, and besides the wench was black'.
I know he's not like that, I said, but in truth they're all like that, closet masturbators. The excitement of surfing earnestly, teeth gritted, on the further shores of bizarre sex on the Internet, although that tends to be more for Germans who screw like they bank, with fierce dedication, with ladies in leather, and a lot of bondage and S&M to assuage their national guilt over invading Poland. No, dear, I said, your little stag party will get queasily drunk on lager and then hoof it around the old city walls and the canals burping and looking shiftily at each other until one of them says "Let's go in here, we don't have to do anything." But you can't go to Amsterdam on a stag night without actually, you know, and they excuse themselves by saying old Charlie - or Hugo or Marco or some equally objectionable hot-socks-and-cold-pizza name - won't get another chance after the knot's tied, and that's that.
Anyway a week later I meet her at the hairdresser, and out it comes, just as I said. Well, I said, I told you, didn't I, I told you. Oh, I know how you must feel, yes, but that's men all over, isn't it? So let me save you time, let me give you all the details; look, Betty dear, I might as well have been there myself, I've heard it a million times. He comes home all damp and pasty looking and says there's something he's got to tell you. They're transparent; it's so pathetic really. And he says he didn't want to go inside, not really, but, well, you know, and so he goes off with this one girl, 200 Euros it costs him for a hand job but he didn't do anything, not actually do anything, couldn't, you know; couldn't get a stiffy, probably too much Dutch lager actually. Actually couldn't do a thing, but it's all right anyway because she made him wear a, you know, thingy.
Well, of course, Betty confirms that's precisely what happened according to him. So I said to her, I said, look, never mind the rest of it, how come she made him wear a, you know, thingy, when he couldn't, you know, too much lager and so on? And she says: 'Ah!'
So I said to her, look, that may be exactly what did happen or alternatively he may have been like my Andrew and leapt in joyfully shouting ' Try this one for size. This one's one is from Colonel Fuck for World War Two, you grand-daughter of a bulb-growing Nazi collaborator,' but that doesn't matter, that's not the point, I said. The point is that he's guilty of inhibition, lack of style and a spirit of sexual adventure. I mean, look, I said, believe me, Betty dear, you are younger than me, and still got a great figure, and I know he adores you, everything just as it should be, but this is an age of free spirits, marital mayhem and sex lib and there is nothing like a bit of the bizarre to stimulate a relationship teetering on the edge of repetitive stagnation. I have only to think of that clown Wesley I mistakenly selected for my first husband.
If you don't believe me, Betty dear, I said, come back with me and I will show you bizarre; show you how Andrew got me to tune and liberate my latent sexuality, introduce you to your wilder sexual nature, lace you into the thigh high boots and the mask and the rest of the gear I wear for Andrew to turn him on. I will get out some of my sex toys and show you some of the photos, and I'll show you, dear, how it is done these days, but don't expect to get out in under three hours.
So she cheered up a bit and I said, look, I said, the least he could have done was take you along, never mind the nice young professional men, the two of you could have gone off to one of those clubs in the Hague, latex, leather, S&M, everything you could want. He doesn't know how to appreciate you, I said. That's where I went with Andrew. I mean, Babs, you really must come round one morning and we will share a bottle of wine and I will show you how to dispose of your inhibitions. And we will have a good gossip. I mean, men... the majority fuck like it's some religious ritual. And when they get bored don't you find they start decorating the performance, start investigating kinky, swallowing Viagra like after dinner mints, buying Cialis for your birthday, seeking for ever better orgasms?
What was I wearing at the club in Amsterdam? Well, Babs, this was just after the divorce and Andrew was all new and shiny and very definitely cooking on lust, the way they are when they claim they have found the woman of their dreams. He introduced me to what he describes as my 'wanton psyche', took me straight from the plane to this funny little shop on one of the canals and bought me a leather catsuit and the over the knee patent boots. Not like these calf ones I am wearing today but high heels and laced right up the front. Oh yes, and long leather gloves and a sort of mask thing. Oh, yes, and this funny little whip that I was told to slap against the sides of the boots whenever a man looked at me.
And I confess to you, Babs, that if Andrew had not been there with me in this club I could have returned to the hotel after three days with enough money to buy a villa in Spain. Popular! It was like bees swarming around their queen. Just the money I could have earned from letting rabid males lick my boots would have paid for the swimming pool and the luxury accessories. So, as I said to Betty, I can testify that there isn't a member of what we laughingly call the male sex who could possibly return from Amsterdam with a limp story like that.
And anyway what sort of man claims impotence in order to evade a woman's wrath? Where's his cojones, I said to her, but she said 'I don't know what you're talking about, I think James is sweet; if I listened to you, Penny dear, you'd persuade me to become one those fem-doms or convert to being a lesbian.' And I laughed and I said Betty dear you would never pass the written exams, never mind the physical.
Anyway, enough about Betty, now tell me all about that new man I heard you found. In Italy wasn't it? I want to hear it all. Got to go? Oh no, oh Babs, give me your mobile number; we must lunch or something. I have just got so much to tell you.