Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

After a party one night, my sometime boyfriend Richard and I found ourselves in a bit of a bind: he had locked himself out of his flat, and the paper-thin walls separating me from my flatmate, coupled with my creaking bed, meant that inviting him upstairs was out of the question. So I led him to an alley behind my building to continue our make-out session.

"This is crazy," he whispered, "We're going to get caught." Yet within five minutes, he went from a guy who thought that alfresco was a character from GoodFellas to tearing my clothes off in the lobby of my building. There was something thrilling about being so turned on that we literally couldn't wait to get through the door. The next morning, after waking up with one shoe and no pants on, I couldn't believe that we had been so brazen.

At least I'm not the only one. While sipping my coffee, I read how John Prescott apparently slept with his mistress in his office with the door open and public servants outside, and in a hotel room with his wife downstairs. Amorous adrenaline junkies are everywhere. I have even heard rumours that the management at one City nightclub has become so fed up with copulating couples causing long queues at the toilets that they've opened up a secret "sex room".

My friend Amy plans every social outing with military precision, scoping out locations in advance, and wearing pencil skirts with stockings and no pants on for easy access. "My boyfriend and I had fallen into a routine with our sex life, so one night we had a quickie in the cloakroom at a friend's party," she said. "We've been at it ever since."

I have tried to follow her advice, but fear of getting caught in a crosswind quickly cancelled out any aphrodisiac effect. Besides, I've found that for me, most public places are overrated: the ocean is uncomfortable, funny business in an airplane bathroom with a long queue can provoke mutiny at 30,000ft, and the only spectators in dark alleys are liable to be rats and homeless people. Sex in the loo just leaves me feeling dirty. And not in a good way.

Still, I can relate to Amy's thrill-seeking behaviour, because one of my ex-boyfriends became addicted to the rush of sex in risky places. It all began when I went down on him in a bar one night, but we soon escalated to his office's conference table and the local park. I finally had to draw the line after one margarita-fuelled late-night tryst in his neighbour's garden almost got us arrested.

That's the problem with reckless behaviour, as John Prescott has doubtless discovered. Once you get caught, the five-minute thrill seems hardly worth the fall-out. I'm still dealing with the consequences of my most recent escapade, because the next evening I was horrified to discover that one of my own neighbours had stuffed my pants into my letterbox. Now I can't look any of them in the eye - and I still haven't found my other shoe.