The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Ways to counteract the sweeping tide of sex

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AS ONE OF the most respected figures on the Government's Health Education Authority, I was aghast to set my eyes upon its new 'sex' education leaflet. Not content with teaching our youngsters about 'smooching' and 'snogging', the author - a 34-year-old jeans-wearer, married to a 28-year-old woman with b*s*ms - has gone way beyond the holding-hands stage at which, frankly, any new teenage relationship (dread word]) should halt this minute.

At one point, the author - if one can describe him as such] - talks of parties at which 'dim lights, soft music, warm hands, wet tongues and long deep kisses' are in evidence, all leading to 'soul-tugging org*sms that make your toes curl tighter than before'. Well, I'm very sorry indeed, but over the years I have had experience of over two dozen Spectator parties, including 10 of their highly agreeable luncheon gatherings, and nothing of that kind has ever disturbed the convivial cut-and- thrust of the dinner table. Only this week, I had the immense pleasure of sitting between the young-at-heart Mr Simon Heffer and that incorrigible old tease Mr Enoch Powell, and not once did I ever feel the faintest hint of the distinct squelch of Mr Heffer's wet tongue on my warm hands. Even when the doughty editor, Mr Dominic Lawson, dimmed the lights and turned up the soft music, I can assure you that Mr Enoch Powell's toes remained stolidly uncurled.

As we all tucked in, Mr Paul Johnson raised the subject of the wretched Pocket Guide to Sex. He had called his publishers that very morning, he informed us, to tell them that, in the wake of the latest news, he wished to change the name of his next book, Wake Up Britain], to Go to Sleep Britain], for medical research had convinced him that this small but significant alteration was likely to save up to 3,000 unwanted pregnancies a year.

But how, I wished to know, were we to counteract the tide of sex, lust and unadulterated physical contact that is sweeping our country? I proposed that a small group of us - Heffer, Johnson, Mr J Enoch Powell, the Rt Hon John Patten and my own good self - set out to produce an antidote to what one might call 'the sweaty palm syndrome', namely a pamphlet, free to all houses with central heating, called, The Spectator Guide to Sex, subtitled How Not To, Why Not To and Where Not To.

Needless to say, my proposition was taken up with enthusiasm, and the discussion that followed made it clear that we were all agreed on essentials. 'Do you know,' said Patten, his eyebrows quivering at the recollection, 'only last week, I saw a young couple - they couldn't have been more than 30 - standing on a street corner and, oh my giddy aunt, do you know what they were doing? Do you? DO YOU? I can't go on, it's too revolting.'

'We're all consenting adults, John,' whispered Heffer. 'Be brave.'

'Well, the man had his mouth where the woman's mouth was, and the woman had her mouth where the man's mouth was. I think they might have been . . . kossing.'

'Kossing?' said Johnson, 'Kossing? You don't mean 'Kissing' do you, by any chance?'

'Spelt?' I asked, taking out my notebook, for I felt that Patten might have touched on a very important subject for us to warn against.

'C-H-I-S-S-I-N-G,' chipped in Powell, 'from the Greek, meaning, 'to compromise one's dignity by performing a suction action on the mouth of another person or persons, resulting in pregnancy'.'

'And people actually perform this unsightly act?' asked Heffer, adding, 'I mean, I can understand the lure of the plastic bag and the kitchen table, but this 'kissing' really takes the biscuit. Do you have to take the orange out of your mouth before you start it?'

'So we've got the message for our first chapter, then,' exclaimed Johnson. 'If you have to kiss someone make sure it's yourself. Shall we illustrate it with a lovely picture of Heffer demonstrating how? Excellent] Now for Chapter 2 I think we should tackle the question of what to do if you start experiencing peculiar pangs in the upper trouser department, as it were. Any ideas?'

'A six-month subscription to the Spectator,' suggested Lawson, 'or a full year if you get them very badly.'