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Real shopping: Is it worth it... Handcuffs

WHAT WITH the Women's Institute publishing nude calendars, and celebrities caught in compromising positions in LA being interviewed on Parky, it's clear that in Britain we have become far more comfortable with the kinkier side of sex. But are we really ready to purchase bondage gear outside the confines of a Soho back street?

The fashion crowd seems to think so, as Agent Provocateur has brought out its own designer handcuffs, priced at a naughty pounds 320. These cuffs are for real attention seekers, encrusted in diamante and accessorised with a whip (pounds 175).

Asking whether these pricey sex toys are worth it is a bit like reviewing a top-of-the-range tennis racket - it's all down to the individual player's skill and imagination (and dogged persistence, probably).

The cuffs can be unchained so they double as sparkly bracelets - so long as you don't mind the tell-tale padlocks. But don't assume these cuffs will live up to expectations if you are planning to use them for restraining purposes. Too small to fit around anything but a slender wrist the clasps are fiddly and by the time you have got them done up any passion will have waned. And because they are not locked they tend to come apart when pressure is applied.

Good news for nervous experimenters then, but likely to disappoint a pro. After all, having handcuffs which don't cuff rather smacks of depositing a fine wine into the spittoon.

Mail order: 01483 204469. Enquiries: 0171 235 0229.