Talk about sex? Please, don't tempt me

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The Independent Online
So far it hasn't been easy for me to follow the Family Planning Association's weekend injunction to talk about sex at least once a day. My partner is at her mother's (no, things are fine, thank you), and I don't really like to go up to complete strangers, to neighbours, or to people at work and begin to tell them about my sexual fantasies. I suppose some might regard it as an interesting form of revenge upon over-garrulous taxi drivers, to return their thoughts on the new government with an alarming disquisition on the quality of the male orgasm. One might certainly get to one's destination more quickly.

The other problem - which is less practical but more important - is that I'm not at all sure it's a good idea anyway. Not for the reasons that Ann Widdecombe gave on radio the other day; Ms Widdecombe feels that there is too much sex around, and I on the whole believe the opposite. But the orthodoxy that couples should - as far as possible - be honest with one another and discuss their sexual feelings openly, that strikes me as being completely wrong-headed.

Couples, on the whole, know what they want to know. Most women, for instance, cannot cope with the idea that a man has a sexual past. They do not want to be told about past girlfriends, or first masturbation, or how a bloke lost his virginity. The image of the loved one that they have constructed in their own heads is the one that they wish to persist with; they do not want it hurled out by a series of invading, contrary pictures. Men, on the other hand, often want at first to colonise their lovers' pasts - with the objective of turning them into versions of the Whig Version of History - a clear progression from barbarism and dissatisfaction, to enlightenment and incredible pleasure. Women often co-operate with this process, airbrushing past lovers out of the picture with almost Stalinist alacrity.

But if history is dangerous, it is nothing compared with the present. Men are simply much badder than women realise. Does a wife really want to be told that - though her husband loves her dearly - he is in a state of hormonal agitation all summer because of pert young breasts pushed against flimsy blouses, or nipples outlined in tank-tops, or bare midriffs - the line of the navel leading the eye steadily down ... Oh dear. Sorry about that. The fact that it gets worse as the man gets older simply makes it all the more pathetic.

So, his fantasies, she can do without. And if she has any it is - as an old friend of mine used to say - Lombard Street to a china orange that he doesn't want to hear about them. Generally the two of them can rub along together - literally - doing what pleases and minding their own businesses. They have discovered what works and what doesn't, and that is the great and glorious characteristic of long-term partnerships.

The desirability of this ambiguity was brought home to me this week when reading a story in one of the less cerebral of our newspapers, concerning a 27-year-old woman who has Sliders Phenomenon. Debbie Wolf gives off large quantities of static electricity. Ever since she was 12, people who shake her hand or cuddle her have got minor shocks. TV channels sometimes change when she enters a room, car indicators and street lamps flash on and off at her approach. But, according to Debbie, the most remarkable aspect of her condition is that, when she is sexually excited, her effect on electrical appliances around her becomes almost dangerous. Fridges turn on and off and light bulbs explode.

Now, you can fake orgasm, whether you're male or female, but you cannot fake an exploding fridge. Debbie Wolf is unable to dissemble - placing a voltmeter by the bed will give a precise measurement of her response to practically anything sexual. Sliders means that when she passes men she fancies, or her lover does something that she doesn't like so much, her feelings become instantly apparent.

Consider for a moment how disastrous it would be if this happened to you, right now. It would be like establishing a running commentary on your sexual feelings. Every pertness you passed would be registered, as though you were continually telling your partner, "Look at her!" or even, "Look at the buns on him!" Your temporary lack of interest while you did something that your partner really liked, but that wasn't such a turn- on for you, would be instantly revealed. The gateway between the absolutely private, and the admitted, would stand always ajar. I cannot think of any surer recipe for divorce.

Miles Kington is on holiday

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