Dear Durex

Everyone knows about safe sex now. So, isn't it time to put the things back under the counter, asks the parent of an inquisitive son
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Congratulations on marketing yourself so successfully. You pop up wherever I choose to shop, so it's no wonder you manage to sell more than 126 million condoms a year. The tired old expression " ... and something for the weekend, Sir?" is now redun dant.

Well done.

However, your disregard for discretion is making my job as the father of a 10-year-old more difficult than it needs to be. The packets on one of your counter display boxes - only 2ft high - inspired my son to ask me: "Why do condoms come in all differentflavours, Dad?"

He had been in a chemist's shop with his grandmother two days earlier and had seen some attractive packages on the counter. In most cases this would inspire no more than a furtive glance. But because your condoms promised to taste of mint or pina colada,and others on the rack of banana, lemon, orange, coffee, strawberry, peppermint, grape and cherry, his attention was focused long and hard.

He was drawn to the cellophane-wrapped packets until he realised they were condoms. At which point he rejoined his grandmother. After keeping his thoughts to himself for two days, he decided to share them with me.

"You don't need to know the answer to that," I said.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because it's something you'll find out when you grow up."

When you fail to answer questions asked by a 10-year-old his fertile imagination will get to work. You can almost see him imagining, and that can be worse. So I moved swiftly on to the facts to prevent fiction from taking over.

When I explained - in the most caring and careful way - why some condoms were given a flavour, I was relieved to get the response: "How gross."

I suspect you will continue to be successful in marketing your brands of condoms in Britain. Good luck with that. Condoms made by you and others have prevented a great deal of suffering and even deaths. But please could you consider the display and promotion of your product? I suggest the flavouring should be as discreet as the health warning on cigarettes.

And for the sake of other parents, perhaps your marketing department should rethink the way it presents its product to retailers. Now that condoms perform more than just a clinical function you should suggest where to place the racks: close at hand to save embarrassment, but out of sight. With 80 per cent of the market and so much help from a government promoting safe sex, do you need to continue asking retailers to put your condoms in prominent positions?

You may accuse me of wanting children to be ignorant but I prefer to call it innocent. I would rather children found out about oral sex from their contemporaries in the playground than at a premature point determined by you.

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