The penis: mightier than the sword

Pride & Preparation

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a single man not in possession of a good fortune must be in want of one.

This being the case, it should be no surprise that our Hero – let us for the sake of this narrative call him “Bill” – set off one bright Summer morning with his mule, piled high with gear; his stoutest walking boots; a few days’ rations; and a faded scrap of parchment, which he tucked inside his waistcoat.

Little by little, Bill made his way up into the hills, stopping now and then to take a few bites of bread and cut himself a corner of cheese from the kerchief-wrapped bundle riding like a proud cherry atop the mule’s canvas-frosted back. Whenever he stopped, Bill would withdraw the increasingly moist palimpsest from his shirt and squint at it intently, checking and double-checking the faint lines scrawled on its surface.

The sun climbed higher. The tweets and twitters of early-morning birds gave way to the buzzes and chirrups of grasshoppers. The cheese began to smell somewhat. So did Bill.

Around mid-afternoon, in a shady gully, beneath a gnarled sycamore, Bill called to the mule to halt. He smoothed out the crumpled parchment once again and turned it this way and that, shielding his eyes from the glare, as he stepped back and forth across the grass. Once he had found precisely the correct spot, Bill marked it with the parchment, weighed down by a rock. On one corner of the stained and messy map were scratched the words, “Heer micht youwe finde it of proffit to digge.”

The pack-cloth fell from the mule’s back with a clatter of tools and a spill of rope. Bill rummaged in the pile of tent poles and cooking pots, until he found the old, sturdy garden spade he had bought years before, just in case he should one day acquire a garden. As Bill strode back to his marker the mule, comfortably bored in the way only a beast of burden can be, ambled off to drink a little from the brook beside the sycamore.

Balancing on one leg, Bill carefully trod the tip of the spade into the ground. The thick leather of his boot warped and flexed as he bore down, and he worked the handle back and forth until the iron blade was buried to its hilt. Then slowly, mightily, Bill leant back with all the weight he could muster. His spade’s handle creaked and bowed; threatened to snap. The iron neck of it bent a little but then – then! – the soil gave way and, with a great up-rushing tear of roots, Bill found himself overbalancing; and had to stumble backwards a few paces to avoid tumbling to the warm, tussocky ground.

Smiling, almost laughing with delight, Bill bent his back and heaved up the shovelful of knotted earth. He tucked the spade-shaft under his arm and splayed his fingers beneath the flat, pitted back of the blade.

Tentatively, reverently, Bill caressed the pile of dirt. This, at last, was it! He had dug at the very spot the map had indicated. Surely, he had more than earned whatever treasure had lain hidden here for so many years?

He eased his fingertips into the heavy soil. Pinching and crumbling, he broke the lumps apart, and ground them to dust; slowly at first, but then faster and more frantically as his torn and bleeding fingernails found . . .


Bill swallowed hard. He blinked. He stared at the pile of dust on the ground. It occurred to him that he smelled somewhat like a cheese rind, and somewhat like a mule.

It occurred to him that neither of these things suited him well.

With a snort, Bill wrapped the map around the rock, and dropped it into the hole. He kicked the dirt over the top of it, and stomped off to catch his mule. That was the last time, Bill thought, that he would head out on a fool’s errand. All that way, and all that effort, and for what? He had tried following the map, reading the instructions; he had even lowered himself to actually digging, for goodness’ sakes!

Tired, dirty, and feeling a little hollow inside, Bill loaded up his mule again and they both set out for home.


It never felt dirty, not at the time. Oh, sure, there were cobwebs and flaking paint; dust, rust and oil. But even in the filthiest old derelict warehouse Sheena’s overwhelming mood was one of excitement, rediscovery.
You couldn’t let a new house get that grubby, not unless you were some kind of reality-TV level slob, but the old buildings – the ancient, forgotten places – they just sort of mulched down into a kind of urban leaf-litter, formed from decaying concrete and smelling like old blood, piss and sour wine.
The smell of dead spaces.
Standing on Tom’s cupped hands, her short, dark hair dangling over one eye, Sheena scrambled up to the broken window-ledge, hoisted one knee until her scuffed Converse found a break in the mortar, then rolled her hips up and over the edge.
She lay there for a moment then reached down to haul up the backpack, stowing it carefully beside her. Finally, she caught Tom’s outstretched hand as he ran into the base of the wall – his trainer soles grinding hard enough into the prefab concrete to let him surge upwards one step, two – and dragged him onto the ledge.
The climb down inside was shorter, and relatively easy. As their eyes adjusted to the dimness, the pair could just make out the dimensions of what Tom had assured her was probably an old factory. What had been made there, he didn’t know; but the empty, cavernous space bore tantalizing traces of whatever vast pieces of equipment it had been built to house – here a repeating pattern of bolt holes, marching across the floor like the prints of football boots; there the silhouette of a bracket, long since removed, marked only by the absence of layer upon layer of paint.
“We’ll never get any decent shots in this light.” Tom’s voice rang hollowly from the bare walls. “I’ll get the flash units sorted out. You set up the tripod.”
Sheena grinned in the dark. In the few years she’d known him, Tom had always struck her as a romantic, the typical flaky artist. Definitely the least bossy of her mates, always easy-going, even a bit scatter-brained sometimes. Then she’d seen him work, and realised he saved his passion and focus for his art. Whatever subject he fixed on became the only thing in his world. Communication was a distraction. When he was working, he ordered; he commanded. Sheena wasn’t sure if he even realised he was doing it, and helping him out was a small price to pay for the chance to follow him into these wonderful, fresh, lost playgrounds.
And the pictures he brought back were stunning. He’d got them into an old cinema a few weeks before it was demolished to make way for the new multi-plex, and they’d immortalised the curving rows of purple velour seats, dust motes spiraling in the still air.
He’d found an abandoned asylum deep in the New Forest, and she’d marveled as he took shot after shot of the chilling, secret detritus of tragic humanity, finding beauty in every one.
For her, the thrill was always in going; being somewhere nobody had been in years, and feeling the echoes of their thoughts tremble in the architecture. But Tom seemed to be immune to the places themselves. He planned meticulously beforehand, and afterwards reveled in the pictures he had created, but during a shoot he seemed to lock out everything except the visual. That intense focus, that drive, seemed to insulate him from whatever vibes a location gave out.
Or maybe, she thought, he just decided to own whatever fell in front of his lens.
They worked through the afternoon, lighting and documenting corner after corner, wall after wall, with Tom snapping directions (“There. Bring it closer. Bounce it off the ceiling.”) and the camera’s mechanism clicking softly.
The last room they went into showed signs of other explorers. A smashed and boarded-over door made Tom frown. He’d told Sheena the very first time she’d tagged along that his art wasn’t about breaking in, that disturbing the spaces like that ruined their purity, or some such artsy bollocks. She hadn’t understood then, but now she waited quietly, watching as he took in the damage, and the decades-old repair.
He sighed a little as he turned and glanced at the massive swathes of spray paint defacing the wall opposite. Tags, graffiti; the spoor of kids marking territory they neither claimed nor had any intention of possessing. Just initials, scrawled as big as a lanky teenager could reach, claiming I AM HERE like a scream in the forest.
Tom shook his head. “Too human.” He drew a deep breath, and began to scout out the corners away from the tags, searching for a useable angle.
Sheena stared at the painted wall. Somebody had come here, just like them. Exploring. Seeking out a space to be themselves, even if no-one would ever know it but them.
She wondered how old the kid was now. Was he middle-aged, with kids of his own? Did he even remember coming here and leaving his mark? Or were she and Tom truly the only people alive who knew this secret?
She walked slowly to the wall. Was she imagining the scuff marks in the dust underneath?
She stood, an arm’s length from the wall, and raised her hand.
He would have had a backpack, too. There were at least four colours of paint here.
She mimed clutching a chunky spray can, and crooked her finger.
psssshhhhh . . .
Sheena started as the camera clicked, closer than she’d thought possible.
“Tom! Umm, I was just-”
“Don’t stop.”
“Stop what?” she asked.
He paused. “Carry on . . . being here. Please.”
Sheena froze, grinned awkwardly. “I can’t. I didn’t mean to-”
“There. Turn a little. Arm up.” The instructions were softly given, but she felt the edge of command. Tom was working. She could help him make something beautiful. She turned to face the wall.
She couldn’t tell, but guessed he was close behind her now. That would frame the wall with her hair, and maybe a shoulder.
Slightly off to one side. He’d crouched, so perhaps her arm would be in this one.
“Move your head. Turn it.”
She did.
“Lift your hair. It’s in the way.”
“Lose the shirt.”
For a second, she didn’t breathe. From anyone else, a line like that would have been met with a vicious sneer and both middle fingers. Tom was waiting, poised, camera up. Not leering, not fearful. Just intently waiting for her to do what he needed.
The thought came to her, loud enough to echo round her mind, that this could change everything between them, that their days of being just friends might end right here.
And the quiet echo came: So what? . . . So what? . . . So what?
Before she had time to talk herself out of it, Sheena popped open her top button and stripped her shirt over her head. She flung it out of the circle of light, and turned back to the wall.
“Arms wider.”
“Touch the wall. Fingertips.”
“Turn round.”
She took a deep breath, then turned, head held high, fists clenched at her sides and small, firm breasts thrust out defiantly. For the first time ever, Sheena stared straight into the lens of Tom’s camera.
Tom didn’t move. He hardly seemed to breathe. After a few pounding heartbeats, Sheena thought she heard him whisper a single word:
She wanted to leap for joy.
“Lean back against the wall.”
“Turn your head again.”
“The trousers. Get rid of them. Shoes too.”
This time there was no hesitation. She stripped, stumbling as the waistband caught round her ankles, whipping off the skimpy little black panties with their skull-and-crossbones print, and throwing them after her shirt.
Tom was backing away, crouching and tilting the camera. She began moving on her own, not waiting for directions. Her arm went up, hips askew, then a little shuffle of her feet on the dusty floor.
Hands on her hips, she slowly turned around, eyeing the camera over one shoulder.
She knelt, knees spread wide, back towards him.
She lay down in the perfectly preserved grime and mulch of this dead, forgotten place, and rolled over, lying right beneath the vibrant scrawls of paint that still looked as lively and as fresh as the day they were spat out by an angry young man.
She looked half-dead, half-alive, and wholly forgotten. Wholly human.
Sheena waited. There was no further sound from Tom’s side of the room. Warily, she lifted her head.
Tom was standing, camera hanging limply round his neck, with both hands pressed lightly to his mouth. His eyes still held that perfect focus, but now a slight frown hinted that he wasn’t certain how to feel about this; that he knew what he wanted, but wasn’t sure that he should.
Sheena raised herself up on one elbow as he walked towards her, and arched an eyebrow. “So. Did you get what you wanted?”
Tom raked his fingers through his hair, and smiled. “I think so, yes.”
Sheena allowed herself a small, proud smile. Well, if nothing else, she had helped. She wondered what the pictures would look like.
“But,” Tom added, “I have very recently decided that there might, um, possibly be other things that I want, now.”
She grinned. “Such as . . . ?”
“Such as should probably – definitely – be discussed over coffee.”
“Sounds good to me. But, Tom?”
“Help me find my shoes? I think one went over there . . . ”

This story was written especially for the Sinful Stories 2 Competition organised by Exhibit A, and inspired (with permission) by this wonderful picture from Molly Moore.

…Just Your Presence

“Put it on.”
“Pleeeeease put it on?”
“It looks silly.”
“But that’s the point! It’s . . .”
She paused, staring into his eyes, reaching for the word that would win him over. “Fun,” she said. “It’ll be more fun that way.”
He took a deep, ceiling-studying breath; huffed it out again.
“OK. All right. Give it here.”
She passed him the shiny, pointed thing, dangling and wobbling obscenely from its too-thin rubber strap.
“Now the ribbon. Please? For me?”
He laughed softly, shaking his head as he helped her to wrap and weave and tighten. The light of three dozen candles shone gently on the satin, and her bright eyes.
“Happy now?”
She leaned back, considering.
“Very happy, thank you.”
“Am I forgiven, then? I know you said this would make up for it, but, truly, I am so sorry I forgot your present-“
“Hush. You agreed, remember? However I wanted. How. Ever. And this is what I want. Fun. Silly. Sex. Party hats, ribbons, candles on a cake. But I haven’t HAD you yet, Replacement-Present, so I’m not sure if you’ll be completely satisfactory . . .” Her eyes lingered on the ribbon, straining and taut across the throbbing flesh. “I think you’ll be fine, though.”
He stifled a moan as she slowly eased her body on top of his, and nestled her cheek against his chest.
“Actually,” she whispered, “I was hoping you’d forget my present again, next year.”

This short was written especially for the competition run by Exhibit Unadorned, on the theme of Birthday Sex.

Sinful Story – “Seven Inches”

I love the look of fuck-me shoes on a woman. Always been my weakness. Have you ever noticed the way a kick-ass pair of heels makes a girl stand just a little taller? I’m not talking about height, or mere inches. They make her stand prouder, force her to absolutely nail her stance with every step, or falter; fall; fail.

Stilettos raise more than her heels. They raise her breasts; her chin; her gaze. They raise her game.

They raise the stakes.

My girl rocks her heels – she’s got dozens. Her tallest pair jack her up a full seven inches; so high that she can nearly stare me straight in the eye. That gives her ideas, though, above her station, which means that I am then obliged to put her back down in her proper place.

When we have enough time, she likes to try all kinds of positions to be put in, until she finds the proper one. Sometimes she asks to go round again.

You can imagine my surprise when I come home one day to find her wearing a new toy –  a soft, smooth, silicone cock and balls, hanging ripe from the straps round her hips, barely covered by a pair of my old boxer briefs.

That cock does things for her figure that no shoes could ever have managed. Weird things; maybe they happen to every guy with a cock, but you’d never know it – not unless you have some way to compare. Like I do now.

It sits, nestled, heavy and dormant in the crease of her groin. That’s the key, I think; the weight and the wield of it. The heft. It has presence, subtle but unmistakeable.

It settles, soft between demurely closed thighs, and gently persuades them to part. Nothing to guard any more, it whispers, why not take it easy for a while? It claims its rightful space there, at her core, and so her body does the same. Her knees spread, her elbows too. She inhabits her space as if by divine right, and for the first time it feels like the claim of ownership, not the challenge of invasion.

She meets my gaze as an equal.

As she stands – firm, straight-backed – I see she has grown in other ways than mere height. Not height, but depth. She stands like she’s rooted to the earth through her bare soles. And now she is not proud. She is strong.

The fleshy mass at her hips tugs at her – my – shorts, and I can almost see her thrust her hips up and forward to carry that imperceptible weight. There is no thought of arching her back, presenting her ass to me, or of sticking out her breasts to tempt and tease. Her shoulders are square. Her stomach, taut. All of her bears that thick, pendulous weight.

She glances up at me from under serious brows, and bites down on a hungry smile.

“Hey, Cupcake,” she says.

I start to smile, too, but the grin gets lost somewhere. “You’re looking very . . . um . . .”

“Very what?”

I swallow, and let my gaze drop again to the bulge in her shorts. “Very . . . hot. Very sexy.”

She smiles. “I thought you only got that turned on once somebody was down on their knees?”

This time, I do chuckle; just a little.

“Better get on your knees, then, Cupcake,” she says.


This was written specifically for the competition hosted by Exhibit Unadorned, and inspired by the wonderful picture by Ruby & Mrs Goodnight, used with permission.

EDIT – I am very pleased to say that this story came second. Thanks to all who took part, and to Exhibit Unadorned for organising  the contest.

Moments That Mattered in 2013

The moment that marked the most recent change in my life was just over a year ago, right back at the beginning of 2013. It was the moment my partner knocked on the door of my cosy little rented maisonette and started to help me move just across town into a house of my own.
It was bitterly cold, and of course I wasn’t organised. The packing I’d done was a rather desultory effort, the cleaning non-existent, and we had, somehow, to cram my pots and pans and books and furniture and clothes into the van, then drag it all out at the other end.
When I’d moved in, the process was simple and slow. A box here, a bag there, then a few carloads of stuff moved in several trips. Now I had furniture, of sorts; a fridge-freezer and washing machine, a bed, a tiny sofa and coffee table – all sought out and bought at bargain-basement prices from crammed Aladdin’s cave charity shops; all except the original ’70s coffee table that had been passed (from new) from my parents to aunt and uncle, down to cousin, back to parents again, and finally to me in some kind of inverted, heirloom-based game of Pass The Parcel. When the music stops, add another layer of mug stains.
The table went into the van. Sofa too, and suddenly we had room to set out boxes. While I ummed and aahed about where to pack every single item, my wonderful, calm, organised girlfriend wrapped and packed and stowed the contents of my kitchen cupboards, then started on the books. When I came downstairs after dismantling the bed, my library was lined up in boxes by the wall and she was opening the package of sausage rolls she’d made that morning for our lunch.
Packing and loading the van took most of the afternoon, each “last few boxes” somehow leaving behind as many more as we had just got rid of, but eventually we were ready to set off.
Unloading was a slog; pure hard graft. We’d had enough. We were aching and tired, and wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed. Somehow, she kept going through to the last of the boxes. We ended the day with an empty van, and one room in my new empty house crammed to the ceiling with brown cardboard and up-ended furniture.
Without her, I’d never have moved. In fact, I’d not be nearly so settled as I am now. The thing that struck me most about that day, from the moment she arrived till the moment she fell asleep, was that she never stopped believing we could do it. She never stopped believing in me. That one simple thing has stayed with me through the whole year, and I don’t think I will ever forget it.

This post was written as an entry to the prize draw competition here, closing date Feb 6th 2014.


After some discussion, then editing heavily to reduce the text to an acceptable length, there is now an e-petition LIVE and READY TO BE SIGNED on the government’s website.


Basically, you should sign this to persuade your elected officials to reconsider criminalising ordinary people for enjoying things that the politicians happen to find distasteful. Yep. That’s it. Behind all the spurious reasoning and flawed logic, it comes down to a question of taste. Because they don’t approve of it, YOU could go to jail for it.

As far as I’ve been able to find out, there is no causal link between explicit portrayals of coercive or non-consensual sex and actual coercion or rape. None. Yet the politicians present the link as so obvious it doesn’t even bear dwelling on, let alone debating. Parliament has been herded towards banning this kind of pornography, and nobody has dared to oppose it for fear of being tainted with the stigma of immorality. Well, I am standing up now,  because whatever my view of this type of pornography it is fundamentally wrong for a government to intrude in this way on the private lives of its citizens.

For a government to dictate to ordinary people what is an acceptable sexuality scares me deeply. For a group of politicians to restrict free speech and artistic expression based on their own predilections is contemptible. If this material could be shown to cause harm to certain people, under certain conditions, there might be a case for discussing its partial restriction, just as all harmful substances and activities are licensed. But it harms no-one, and yet it is banned outright.

The one hope we have is that there are, within the government, enough people with enough common sense to overturn this preposterous law. Of course they won’t risk their political careers and squeaky-clean images by making a stand on their own behalf, but remember, these people are our representatives. They work for us, on the issues we tell them we care about, and perhaps handing them a well-presented argument will give them something to work with, a cause to debate and examine. After all, politicians are only human. Maybe they enjoy watching this stuff too. Maybe their husband or wife does, and puts it on their official expenses. Who can say? But as long as we passively accept this situation, we will keep on having our rights taken from us, non-consensually, coercively, by people who enjoy seeing it happen.

Now why does that sound familiar?

...or so it seems.

Draft e-petition

Do not criminalise recordings of “consensual non-consent” sex.

Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

In January, the Government intends to make the possession of images depicting certain types of legal, consensual sex a criminal act, punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
This is because, although both people who are engaging in sex have consented to do so, they have chosen to pretend that one of them has little or no choice in the matter, for the duration of the scene.

This is known as acting.

We believe that it should remain legal to watch and possess recordings showing scenes which simulate this kind of coercion, just as it will remain legal to watch films depicting simulations of theft, affray, kidnapping, dangerous driving, murder, alien invasion and other criminal activities, whether that be for entertainment or education.

[In addition, scenes depicting coercive sex in mainstream cinema would be treated as pornographic, when removed from the surrounding material. This is frequently done in order to study, comment on or satirise a work which in its entirity would be acceptable under the BBFC guidelines. We therefore further oppose the criminalising and retrospective censorship of similar, existing works, in whole or in part.]

The damage done by criminalising this kind of sexual expression would be difficult to publicly measure, dealing as it does with dark, intimate fantasies, but many people – women and men – enjoy participating in and watching it. To call them criminals for wishing to explore their own sexuality safely, through images, rather than in person, would surely stigmatise and harm them.

(If you do want changes, for goodness’ sake, SUGGEST them! I’m not psychic…)

23.00 – [EDIT to include para on mainstream cinema]
23.30 – [EDIT to remove emphasis capitals]
23.30 – [EDIT to reword para on cinema – thanks, Molly!]

Scumbag Publishers

Short Shrift – A Rant

Picture the scene: 5 a.m., 3000-odd words completed, still vividly experiencing the memories I have been transcribing and somewhat relieved that I can now start the process of forgetting.

Not fiction, though. Instead of writing about people having fun and fucking each other silly, I was documenting what happens when silly people fuck each other over. In other words, I was lodging an official complaint about conditions at my place of work. Telling anyone who’d listen how my voice was ignored; how I was insulted, forced to work beyond my capabilities, made to choose between my health and my job. Telling how I was discriminated against because of my gender. Telling how there is a culture of mistreating and taking advantage of male employees by both male and female managers.

I saved (three times, just to be sure!), logged off and turned out the light. As I lay back in bed to grab a few hours’ sleep, I checked Twitter one last time…

“Women are stronger than men in all the ways that matter.”

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Is this what passes for inspirational “girl power” feminism these days?

Women are strong, yes. I have no problem with that idea. They can be as strong as men, or stronger, in any number of ways. It’s not a rule, of course; just an observation of their capabilities. And by extension, of our own. But “are stronger than men” makes me sigh, and despair once again for the unhelpful nature of generalisations.

My “generalisations” argument generally goes like this:

THEM: X are Y!
ME: That isn’t actually true.
THEM: So you think X are NOT Y? Crazy!
ME: No, I think you can’t make sweeping generalisa. . .
THEM: I’ve seen them myself! Xs being Y! You can’t deny it.
ME: But some X aren’t . . .

Et c., et c., and so on, and so forth. It’s a pretty fair bet that if I come up against a strong opinion from either end of the political or social spectrum I’ll end up arguing against it on the grounds that such simplistic dogma is pretty much always wrong. It has to be. Life, the world, people, are too complex and complicated to pin down so totally. There are always exceptions, and those can tell you more about the issues you’re really facing than all the clear-cut textbook examples you care to name. So I hate generalisations.

But it was that last part that really made me fume, and still does; “in all the ways that matter.”

Any chance the author had to qualify that first statement helpfully, to reflect the complex realities of the situation and make a meaningful statement about the qualities men and women possess and aspire to, was wasted on hate.

That line is a powerful one-two punch. It’s beautifully written, short and very snappy. Easy to remember and easy to quote, with just a slight sneer overlaying what sounds like a broadly positive statement. But it’s hateful and subversive. It begins by asserting female superiority, not equality or objective power; only comparisons with men matter to this writer. The sting in the tail is the concession that men might, in some fields, be stronger than women. How does the author deal with this? By dismissing an entire gender out of hand. If a man is better able to do something than a woman, that thing implicitly has no value. Men’s strengths are worthless and pointless.

I’ve experienced this attitude in real life for too long now to let people get away with blithely passing on messages reinforcing this kind of harmful stereotype.

Men have value as people, and their various strengths have worth.

So do women, and their strengths.

Can we please stop trying to give ourselves a little lift by pushing others down?