Michael Bywater column; They're driving me into business

UNIQUE special oriental beauty. Jane, petite blonde, stunning, fit, versatile and athletic; Genuine Photo. It's not what I do - it's the way that I do it; genuine photograph. All Services; A-Levels; genuine photo. French lessons from ravishing redhead; genuine photo.

I love it, and so do you, except you won't admit it to yourself. I love the way that what used to be filthy urinous pits, broken-glassed oubliettes which stole your money ("Sorry, caller, we have no record of a fault") and squirted cold draughts up your flapping trouser-leg, have now become enchanted grottoes, papered with multicoloured incitements to venery, anterooms to a universe of inconceivable hospitality where bliss and fulfilment are available to anyone with a modest wad of fivers and an A-Z ("The young lady is at 491A Thwacknagle Alley, that's the basement flat. Do you know Thwacknagle Alley, sir?").

Just like life itself, the promise held forth is invariably false. The photo is indeed genuine; it's just not genuinely a photo of the woman at the other end of the telephone. The woman at the other end of the telephone is nobody's dream-kitten, withered by time, her variety staled by custom into a parrot-recitation of grudging manipulations.

Like all false promises, though, much happiness is to be found in the willing suspension of disbelief. Secure in the miniature proleptic seraglio of the phone box, the deprived, incompetent or simply transgressive man can let his mind wander, frolicking in the steamy lubricity of an erotic never-never land.

But such harmless pleasures will not do. The hookers' cards Blu-Tacked to our increasingly redundant phone boxes are now, officially, a "menace" which must be "stamped out" and "cracked down on" and generally subjected to the sort of treatment which one popular subset of working girls ("Yes, sir, the young lady does specialise") offers for sale at premium rates. You might wonder about the moral position of a government which is so ready to use the word "menace" for such a phenomenon; you might wonder, if a phone box full of whores' cards is a "menace", what slinging everyone off invalidity benefit (in the cynical hope that the majority of them are too sick or scared or agoraphobic or helpless to appeal) could be called, or bombing civilians, or underfunding schools, or curtailing the right to trial by jury.

My own theory, though, is that it's simply a matter of unenlightened self-interest. Every hooker knows that phone-box cards are rather low- rent. If you want the multi-national businessmen, you advertise in the International Herald Tribune and charge the buggers a thousand quid an evening, making sure they pay for your dinner in the Dorchester first. If you want the freebooting voluptuaries, you advertise on the Internet (ban it! ban it!). But if you want politicians, you advertise in What's On In London or rely on word of mouth. Once again, the plan to Rid London's Call Boxes Of This Offensive Menace is a case of the Government attacking the economically vulnerable. Are we surprised? We are not.

The answer is to legalise prostitution - or, specifically, to legalise brothels. Having once worked as a ponce (I was sacked after producing my first client, who turned up in a deerstalker hat, clutching a pineapple, and demanded a discount for cash), I feel that I am uniquely qualified to advise on this matter. Indeed, for a small subvention - a National Lottery grant, perhaps - I am prepared to establish and operate what will undoubtedly prove to be the Platonic bordello of which all others are mere imperfect copies. Staffed primarily by cultured, enthusiastic amateurs drawn from the Independent on Sunday-reading classes, my prices will be fair, the services of the highest, the premises elegant, spacious and decorated in the most elevated taste. All perversions will be catered for, and complicity, rather than coercion, will be my founding economic principle. At last, London will be able to compete with other major European cities; no longer will there be that embarrassing silence when your international contacts say, "Well, old chap, where can one go to round off the evening?" followed by your shamefacedly muttering, "We could have a look in a phone box." There will, however, even in this splendid saturnalia, be one thing my happy and fulfilled women will not even contemplate doing. Politicians.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there