Strippagrams are a bare-faced cheek: In a restaurant or at a party, the atmosphere is suddenly ruined. Andrea Adams objects

UNLIKE Lucky, the alsatian reported to have wagged his tail in delight when a curvy blonde stripped down to sexy undies for his birthday treat, I am still reeling with a sense of outrage after my first exposure to somebody else's strippagram. What I object to most is being compromised.

It happened at the end of a busy week, in the quiet, relaxed atmosphere of a classy rural restaurant. Half-way through our main course, what I came to regard as a human appetite suppressant sidled into the midst of six men at a nearby table, raising their glasses to 'a happy retirement'. During an otherwise enjoyable dish of hot, sauce-covered salmon, I was confronted by the distinctly distasteful sight of a complete stranger suddenly being stripped to the waist, his flabby paunch rising in anticipation, as the strippagram 'nurse' in attendance urged him to lick his way through the foam liberally masking her mammaries.

I could feel the anger rising in my throat. How dare this restaurant assume that everyone else would want to witness these ridiculous antics without any prior warning? It's not that I'm a prude. When rampant sex scenes tumble into our sitting-room via the small screen, far from diving for the off-button, I often make them a constructive talking point with my two teenagers. Topless sunbathing, given the right place, is a pleasure. Years ago, occasional evenings out with an older friend were interrupted while she stripped to a G-string and gyrated round the audience at a club dance.

The thread linking all these activities is choice. Choice was clearly not regarded as important enough to place on the menu at that rural restaurant. Had the ubiquitous camcorder cut away to the rest of the dining room, it would have captured a look of general discomfort. It would also have revealed the visible pressure the man with the paunch was under to participate in front of his peers.

His retirement video could have zoomed in on the embarrassed glances being exchanged between one young couple, who let go of each other's hands the moment they were faced with expanses of bare flesh over their paillettes d'oignons frits. It could have picked up two women debating whether to leave the room in protest, thereby ruining their own evening. It could have captured our joint astonishment that in a recession, a restaurant of this calibre could afford potential damage to its reputation.

I later wrote to the proprietors, asking them to consider the impact an event like this might have. When there was no reply after two weeks, I telephoned. This was the crux of the conversation:

'I can assure you this sort of thing won't happen again.'

'But why did you allow it to happen at all?

'We didn't know it was going to happen until the day.'

'But why inflict a strippagram on everyone else?'

'We offered them a private room, but they didn't want to be away from the main dining area.'

'So they were given choice and the rest of us weren't?'

'Well, the man retiring is a good customer.'

'So sod the rest of us, it seems.'

'We had no idea it would offend anyone.'

Licensees and restaurateurs, please note. Take Jane, for example, a solicitor's wife who was reduced to tears at an office Christmas party when 'sex was practically rammed down her husband's throat' during the main course. Diners, including 10- and 11- year-olds, had no choice but to witness the 'fat, ugly French maid' advancing towards him with foamy breasts ready to envelop her prey.

Andy, a 21-year-old photographer, 'hated the experience' when a 20- stone topless strippagram revealed herself to him in another crowded restaurant. Still angry, he says: 'The last thing anyone wants when they're paying to eat out is someone dropping their trousers and crawling around on all fours being encouraged to grab at some woman's garters. It's humiliating for a lot of people present, let alone for the recipient. That's why I refused to comply.'

Debbie, a 17-year-old sixth-former, felt 'cheap and humiliated' when a strippagram vicar turned up at her birthday party. She recalls: 'As a regular churchgoer I found the fact that he was dressed like that offensive. He was also short, bald and bearded which really made me cringe. With everyone standing round me outside it was really claustrophobic. I seriously felt like throwing up. He got very stroppy when I told him to go, and grabbed hold of me. He was definitely pressurising me in a sexual sense. In the end I ran indoors and fell up the stairs in tears trying to get away. Then the anger came.' Debbie, who describes herself as 'a jokey sort of person,' had emphatically told schoolfriends: 'No strippagrams.'

Like those on the periphery (my son and others walked away because of Debbie's embarrassment, and their own), when the moment came she had no choice. She, too, was compromised.

Within the protection of the British workplace, unwanted attention of a sexual nature can land offenders on a charge of gross misconduct. Legislation allows redress for sexual harassment. In the public arena, it would appear that we have to tough it out because of others' insensitivity.

To foist such antics on to customers in any environment is entirely unreasonable. Where licences have to be applied for to allow singing and dancing, it seems ludicrous that a complete stranger can simply walk in off the street and remove nearly all their clothes. It is the managers of pubs, social clubs and restaurants who have the choice in this scenario.

They could ban strippagrams, or at least confine them to private rooms. The tee-hee factor has worn thin. After Lucky the alsatian wagged his tail at that blonde, she was quoted as saying: 'It was the strangest job I've ever had, but everyone had a great time.' I wonder . . .

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project