Tabloid Tracey, every schoolboy's heroine

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The Independent Online
It hasn't been a good week for Tracies. Or Traceys. The murderous one (Tracie Andrews) was not only sentenced to life for pen-knifing her fiance to death and blaming it on a fat man, but was also revealed in the press as being the sort of woman who dyed her hair so blonde that her scalp turned yellow. I for one will be taking a close look at the scalps of women before I accept lifts from them.

The other Tracey (Whalin), a 33-year-old married woman, was brought back yesterday from Florida, where she had been clapped in irons following her elopement with a 14-year-old boy, Sean Kinsella. Bizarrely, her crime is not to have left her three kids (including one autistic son) and husband, nor to have raided the family's bank balances, nor to have done a runner with the family car. She will not be held to account for bringing the name Tracey into yet more disrepute. No, she stands accused of bonking someone whose greatest ambition - almost certainly - was to be bonked by just such a one as her.

It is hard to understand this case in anything other than the argot of the tabloids. Ms Whalin, who used to take her son Ross and his friend Sean ("the new David Beckham") to soccer practice has - said a friend - "long curly hair and a great figure; you'd never guess she was a mum of three".

Now, I have heard of many side effects of childbirth and involuntary hair-straightening is not one of them, but in Sunny Traceyland this is how people speak. So the boy, according to friends, had "lots of muscles, and all the girls loved him". I doubt whether - were he dissected - young Sean would in fact be found to possess numerically more muscles than other human beings, but maybe the ones he has are better developed, for he is also described as being "precociously built". One wonders if this is not just shower gossip.

The unnaturally curly-haired, precociously well-built couple took off to Key West, where - as Ms Whalin later confessed to the Florida fuzz - they indulged in "six or seven sex sessions, including oral sex". Now, sessions is a peculiar word to use about sex. Musicians have "jamming" sessions, courts have sessions when they sit, and doctors have surgery sessions. All these denote pre-planned, diary-led, professional encounters of definite length.

Yet in Traceyland sex too is divided into "sessions", involving "performances" and "acts", like a stage play. There is nothing to imagine here - we know it all. The act is always the same; only the words and names are different (except that one of them is usually Tracey). They do not kiss tenderly, collapse on each other's chests exhausted, or weep for love - they have "sessions, including oral sex".

When I was 14 I wanted "sessions", and if I had known what oral sex was, I'd have wanted that too. Readers of Portnoy's Complaint will recall that sexual madness so afflicted its eponymous adolescent hero that he was driven to ravish a piece of liver that he was taking home from the butcher's.

Portnoy longed for a real woman to show him the way, but had to make do with the Sunday lunch. Sean Kinsella may consider that he has fared significantly better - Tracey Whalin, surely, has done him something of a mitzvah.

I do not for one moment condone child abuse of any kind; I would like to see reoffending paedophiles offered the choice of life imprisonment or castration. But there is hardly a 14-year-old boy since the beginning of time who would not have jumped at the chance of serious sex with a serious woman, if it were on offer. The agonising business of working out which bit goes where is made 20 times worse by the reluctance of your female contemporaries to assist you. Instead you face a confusion of folds and elastic, all the time courting slaps and ignominious, premature failure. Finally they complain about your cack-handedness and get off with older men.

This is a bad way to educate our boys. You would never consider teaching maths by hiding the text books under three layers of clothing, and only allowing half a page to be read at a time (and even that, only after an hour's pathetic wheedling). Youngsters wishing to see a Shakespeare play are not forced to spend five months hanging around discos before someone reads them a few words from one of the soliloquies.

I am not advocating a network of Traceys, supplied free to schools by BT. But I am suggesting that - sometimes - circumstances alter cases. And to the teenage boys of Britain, Ms Whalin does not look like a villain.