Eleven people in total with me as the Pied Piper, all great fun as the end of the long walk is now in sight. Today was a mix of fields and woods and then for lunch the ancient town of Faringdon. We only got lost a couple of times with “Fred” the little guide on our hand held satnav. Occasionally he goes demob happy: he cocks a snook, points us in the wrong direction, then finally vanishes off our screen.
One of our host houses had a number of stuffed heads of shot animals on the wall, ten point antlers, majestic stags, elk, you know sort of thing.
The worst example of parading these heads – which I dislike – was many years ago when I was taking groups of Americans around Scotland. Major Gregor Grant of Inversneky (not his real name) lived in Sutherland. It was long enough ago for him to be a WW1 veteran and I remember that he was hugely pleased with himself, the sort of man who thinks he farts honey . His house was gothic Victorian and vast. The back wall of the hall was smothered in gruesome heads and he proudly pointed them out to us. There were serried ranks of gnu, stags, bison and and on it went. And then he pointed out, ”There is the head of a German soldier I shot near Ypres!”
And, dammit, there was the skull and German helmet of a soldier mounted on a plinth. Underneath was an inscription:
Shot, Ypres 1917”
I was too young to express my revulsion
This ghastly man had returned to the battleground after the war and simply dug up a head, brought it back and there it is. Perhaps it is hanging there still?
Probably the worst case of bad taste I have ever seen.
Boys and girls don’t always do what they are told by their parents
Our elder son was a teacher at St Paul’s boys school in London and occasionally he would be asked to dinner by parents.
On one memorable occasion the mother asked him tentatively:
“Does Henry do what he is told?”
“Yes”, replied Thomas, “he’s a very obedient boy.”
“Oh really” came the reply, “then please will you ask him to go to bed.”
Thomas went to the stairs and called up,
“Henry, it’s Mr Benyon here.”
“Please go to bed!”
I tremble at the idea that any of our grandchildren might fall into the sweaty clutches of the likes of Harvey Weinstein or his sleazy chums. Many women faced with the ghastly choice of furthering a career – but at the cost of a greasy fumble with the spotty Weinstein – might dumbly have consented because of fear: unless they let him have his disgusting way, their career might have come to a grinding (no pun intended) halt. What a vicious choice.
The trouble is that for each acting job, there are dozens of good-looking girls in contest, so unscrupulous career gatekeepers have always found themselves prowling around an Aladdin’s Cave of sexual variety. Actor Emma Thompson tells us she spent much of her early career with someone’s tongue stuck down her throat: so it seems Weinstein and chums have always been an occupational hazard for actresses. Although Weinstein may be an extreme case, ever since Bathsheba, young women have faced exploitation from randy, powerful men like King David.
As a pre-emptive strike, some years ago I alerted our then teenage daughters to the specious arguments con men might use to get them laid. Although our girls roared with laughter at the time, I hope they found my warnings useful. Of course, nowadays it would appear that everyone is banging away the entire time. But until quite recently, girls – not boys – were a tad reluctant to leap into bed for all sorts of reasons. Some actually thought – old fashioned as it may sound now – that the sexual act was special, and should be kept for the man who would be faithful and true. And they might have pondered on the fact that if you have sexual intercourse with men you don’t really love, what are you going to give the man you do?
Are today’s permissive young happier today than we were in our youth, despite our alleged hang-ups? I doubt it. Wily men have always had persuasive arguments, perhaps first practised on Noah’s Ark. Here are a few – but allow me first to set the scene:
The lights are low, the wine is flowing, the flat is warm, the fancy man is reasonably attractive, and you are alone and vulnerable. However, something is holding you back – perhaps vague memories of biblical teaching – and you are thinking hard. Then he turns down the music and arm snaking, begins to persuade:
“You know I am in love with you… and have been for some time? Perhaps now is the right time to ‘get together’? Aren’t you just a little bit in love with me?
Don’t tell me that this would be your first time? How bizarre.
Your parents will never know: no one will!
Are you afraid of something? There is a rumour you’re frigid.
Come to bed and let me baptise each of your breasts!
I am so lonely. You are the only girl I know who really loves me.
Why do you need to be married to have intercourse? It’s only a piece of paper. That religious nonsense is ancient claptrap.
Virginity is so yesterday!
Religion is boring, irrelevant and untrue. It just leads to guilt. Anyway, I am a Buddhist/Rastafarian/Yogi (Bear?), and these religions are every bit as valid as Christianity. Buddhism – and the rest – allows me to have sex at any time with anyone. So celebrate and change your faith, just for the night!
All the girls are giggling about you and your ludicrous virginity. For goodness sake, give us a break.
If you don’t agree, I’m sorry but there are other girls who want to have a relationship with me: so this is the last time of asking…”
Bucking the Trend
Of course, whether you have a sexual relationship before marriage or not is not the most important issue in the world, but sex is too important to allow your wits to be addled by sexual con men. I hope that the young don’t allow themselves to be bantered into something they may subsequently regret just because, as the old song goes, “Everybody’s doing it”.
Perhaps to say “thanks, but no” in today’s sex-crazed climate is a revolutionary act.
Now there’s a thought.