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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Tell me if I'm close

The subject has popped into just about every conversation I've been having this week, so there's no getting away from it, I'm afraid. Much as I'd rather talk to you about music, physics or Al's bulging broccoli, I'm going to have to touch briefly on the subject of sex.

Please don't be alarmed. We are all scientists here. There's no way we're going to toss off any cheap double entendres. We know that's not why you come here. 

So I'm sat in the Drake in Woodlands Road, having a friendly half pint and sharing haloumi and asparagus fritters, for god's sake, with my friend Lucas, who's been doing some fancy software development for us, when he makes a remark that baffles me for a moment, before I realise that he's jumped to a conclusion that I guess is pretty widespread.

I've been telling him about the time I officially became a Buddhist, more or less accidentally, when I attended a seminar in Strasbourg, a couple of years ago, conducted by the Dalai Lama. At the end of the two-day event, spoken in Tibetan, but translated into earphone English, the audience were invited to take five Buddhist vows. 

Essentially the same in all branches of Buddhism, these precepts are to abstain from harming living things, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. They're pretty much how I live my life and number one, in particular, is what first drew me to Buddhism. So I went ahead and vowed. 

But it isn't the first precept that has caught Lucas's attention. "The sex part must be easy for you nowadays," he comments and I'm puzzled for a moment before the penny drops.

"Ah, you mean at my age?" 

"Well, you are a lot older than me. And even I am starting to find it tiresome. All that thrusting is hard work, don't you think?"

At this point he tries to match the action to the words, as far as can be done from a seated position with a forkful of fancy cheese on its way to your face, and I think I see the problem.

"Don't stab yourself in the eye," I say. "But show me that again please." 

He does so, confirming my suspicions. "You're doing it wrong," I tell him. "That looks like you're trying to shake cake crumbs out of your lap. What you should be doing is this."

I demonstrate, he continues with his version and Rachel returns from the toilet and raises a manicured eyebrow. "Would you guys like to be alone?" she says and I think quickly.

"Lucas was showing me how to dance the Watusi," I say and she shakes her head.

"That's not the Watusi," she says. "That's the Bugaloo. The Watusi goes like this."

Right about now the boss man at the Drake, a hipster with gelled hair and a ginger beard, decides we've crossed a line and comes out from behind the bar. "I have no idea what you three are doing," he says. "But take it outside. You're frightening my dog."

"On the subject of sex," Lucas says, when we're out on the pavement with wisps of water vapour rising from the road in bright afternoon sunshine. "Did you see the latest news? Fifty percent of men don't know where the vagina is."

I ponder this for a moment. "That's tabloid nonsense," I tell him. "Humans would have gone extinct long since, if it was true. The name isn't the object. What's clearly happened is a bunch of guys have failed to match labels and body parts on a diagram of the female reproductive system. Which isn't surprising because it's more complicated than the London underground."

"You're right of course," Lucas says. "Amazes me how babies find their way out, when I get lost going from Waterloo to King's Cross. There's no way 50% of men can't find a vagina in real life. Assuming they can find a woman, of course."

"I'm not so sure," Rachel says. "At least 50% of men can't find the toilet bowl when they're having a pee." 

She wanders off along Woodlands Road towards her flat, but can't resist a parting shot over her shoulder. "And I don't think either of you could find your bum with both hands," she says.

Lucas looks at me. I look at Lucas.

"She's right," he says. 

"She always is," I tell him.

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