Sexual congress for sweet-talking sociologists

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Beware chatting up spare talent in Preston this week. Whisper 'By gum pet, you smell gorgeous' within earshot of Chris Hart and the unsuspecting sweet-talker could be presented next morning as a locus classicus in academic examination of 'Representations of sexuality in perfume advertising', writes Jonathan Foster.

Suggesting a smoochy dance with Jo Van Every may not be the best move. She is to deliver a paper entitled 'Sinking into his arms . . . arms in his sink. Heterosexuality and feminism revisited'. The theme of the British Sociological Association's annual conference - Sexualities in Social Context - will be considered by more than 500 sociologists and explored in over 250 papers.

Why the association chose to meet in a town marking the 140th anniversary of a nasty cotton workers' strike is unclear. Perhaps it thought there was something deviant about Preston North End. Even better, Group H3 will be able to travel the few miles to mystical Pendle Hill to hear Amy Simes on

'Pagan approaches to sexuality inside and outside of ritual'.

Preston, unlike Manchester or Bolton, was never a centre of religious dissent, and its contribution to sexual adventure has been a comparatively cautious 'get-wed-and-live- in't-next-street-to-her-mother' attitude.

Pausing briefly to deplore puerile coverage of sex in media contributions such as this, the programme will leave few stones unturned.

Albert Mills will pronounce on 'Desexualisation versus eroticism in the corporate framing of female sexuality; Images of British Airways 1945-60.' The dates could be crucial. It may be about air hostesses.

Elina Haavio-Mannila has flown in to take the lid off 'Changes in numbers of partners, masturbation and sexual satisfaction in Finland, 1971-92.' What they were up to in the forests before 1971, we may never know. Someone named Pink Dandelion will presumably arrive by moonbeam to contribute 'Sexuality, tolerance and privacy within British Quakerism'.