While Britain was at war in the Forties, an atmosphere pervaded in which people were brought together, moral codes were broken down, and attitudes to sex were not what they had been a few years previously. The women in this documentary recalled the secret sexual revolution that took place. With wit and candour they told of the lifestyle they pursued at a time when new brides were virgins, and mothers never told daughters how babies were conceived. "My mother always said the physical side of marriage was degrading," said Miriam Hopgood, a seventysomething woman with a smoky voice and vanilla hair. She had two marriages behind her, and a current boyfriend of 36. War was a time of goodbyes, when no one knew if they would be here from one day to the next, and so, each dangerous liaison and brief encounter with a man was, in the words of one interviewee, a gesture towards life rather than death.
In complete contrast, a former debutante in Seeking Pleasure: Clubs (BBC2), recalled a moment from the same era when being seen in Piccadilly Circus without a hat almost had her ostracised by her family. She was one of the ladies who lunch at the exclusive Parrot Club in Knightsbridge. Here, women speak in shrill yaps that could break glass and beckon dogs.
The brief of the programme was to take us through various private clubs where members are joined together by the common bonds of status and income. The approach? That of give 'em enough rope. The gushing Belindas and Victorias at London's Soho House somehow didn't need to tell us they "work in the mee-jah"; we could hazard a guess. It was as though media was a kind of Freemasonry, with outsiders not privy to its rituals and practices, and this club its temple. This particular establishment came across as more pompous and complacent than the gentlemen's clubs of Pall Mall that its owner purported to find stuffy. The chinless wonders and clipped debs in the other clubs featured in the programme paled beside the image of actor Neil Morrissey, a Soho House committee member, on the lawns of the club's countryside branch. He was repeating into a mobile phone that he was waiting for a chopper to take him back to Battersea. Had a doodlebug arrived instead, the moment would have united a nation of viewers.
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