Portion Control

In which The Author exercises some self-restraint

When I first started going out with Sam H., I’d already made a lifetime commitment to celibacy. It took her well over two years before she took my virginity, towards the climax of the O. J. Simpson murder trial. We did it the first time in her parents’ bed when they were on holiday. The second time we did it was shortly afterwards, but this time it was different. She raided her mother’s wardrobe for silk scarves, spreadeagled me face-up, and blindfolded and gagged me. Then she buckled a belt tightly around my neck, said ‘This is how you really want it, isn’t it?’, and rode me senseless.
Sam’s latent interest in BDSM was truly awakened that night. For my part, the things I’d been fantasising about for years were actually happening. It wasn’t as though she didn’t know what I was into. Quite some time before, she’d taken me into the Carpenters one Saturday night on a collar and lead. At the time she and her friends were still doing their A levels, so ‘Miss Whiplash’ became the talk of the school on Monday.
In 1996, during the visit to London I mentioned in Elton Dean – Sorely Missed, I decided to stock up for the trip. Before I got on the coach in Cardiff, I visited Rebel Rebel in Cardiff. Run by a couple of gay guys named Tim and Rick, it sells t-shirts, smoking paraphernalia, jewellery, punk/Goth clothing, magazines, and other interesting odds and ends. For example, if you want a speculum (for whatever reason), or a leather parachute enabling you to hang weights from your scrotum, Tim and Rick can probably get one out of the window.
It’s the only place in the city centre that you can have your genitals pierced and/or buy body jewellery, and it used to have a secret room full of bondage gear. Anyway, I used to call in now and again to top up my phone and have a chat, so I knew that they had a pair of ankle-cuffs for sale. They look just like handcuffs, only a bit bigger, linked by a fairly long chain enabling you to walk with difficulty, and they double-lock so that they can’t be accidentally overtightened. I bought them that morning and tucked them in my overnight bag. I already had at least two pairs of handcuffs and a number of collars, so I’d packed some of them as well. Sam had booked three nights at the B&B on Crouch Hill. We hadn’t seen each other for ages. Party on!
When I got to London, I headed straight to Soho. In a little alleyway off Berwick Street, I found a really great sex shop. It was the one I bought my leather mask from, some years later  (see Behind the Mask). I spent some more money there. I picked up a pair of spring-loaded nipple clamps at either end of a piece of chain. When I got to the counter, something else caught my eye. Under the glass desktop was a cock harness. I’d seen them advertised in porn mags over the years, but I’d never seen one in the flesh, so to speak. I’d often wondered what it would be like to wear one.
I’d always been fascinated by what’s known in the scene as CBT (no, not Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy – Cock-and-Ball Torture.) Even when I was in school, walking home, I used to tie the strings of my parka around my penis (inside my trousers, of course.) Now I was confronted by the very thing. It was unusual and rather beautiful, to be honest. It consisted of a T-shaped leather skeleton with four circular steel ribs at intervals. Unlike all the others I’d seen in the adverts, this one had a special feature. The crosspiece, which would be fastened around the base of the scrotum, closed with a padlock. It didn’t just buckle or snap shut. Once the wearer’s manhood was confined in it, it was up to the keyholder to determine the duration of the sentence. After a minute of humming and hah-ing, I decided to buy it as well. I didn’t know what Sam would think of our new toys, but they looked fun.
And they were fun! I won’t go into the sordid details, but we made the most of our time in the B&B. I kept the ankle cuffs (they’re still hanging on the wall in my bedroom), but for some reason Sam hung onto the other things. I once asked her if she still had the harness, and she was rather evasive.
So that was something else I had a taste for. I paid another visit to Rebel Rebel some time later and bought a cock ring. The girl at the counter must have read my mind when I told her what I wanted.
‘I think you’re after something kinky and chunky – studded leather?’ She offered me exactly what she’d suggested – it was about two cm wide, with a row of heavy studs, and two press-fasteners which would allow me to slip it on and off easily. As the ad used to say, that’ll do nicely!
I wore it on and off for the next few years, to work, pubs, gigs, wherever I was. I loved the sensation of having my genitals confined (even in a fairly non-aggressive way). Australian Emma (See From a Land Down Under) thought it was a bracelet when she found it on my bedside cupboard, and wore it for a couple of days. Whenever I put it on, it still brings back memories of her.
I acquired two more harnesses subsequently. I really can’t remember where I bought them. It might have been in London. Maybe on a trip to Bristol. It could conceivably have been Rick and Tim’s place. Anyway, they both follow the same basic design plan as the first one. One has a large metal ring which slips down over the scrotum, and two smaller rings which fit over the shaft. It’s a bit of a bugger to put on, because you have to be unaroused at the time. It can be a bit confusing as well, while you’re trying to figure out how to orientate it.
Ideally I’d need a woman to put it on me. Then I’d be in the Catch-22 situation of having to stay unaroused. Tricky one! I haven’t worn it for ages, because the metal has rusted and needs a good polish. The other one is almost entirely leather, except for the buckles. It has five straps at right angles to the main ‘spine’, one to fasten below the scrotum and the rest enclosing the shaft itself. And that’s why I’m writing this particular entry tonight.
I’m not going to blow my own horn (mainly because I’m not double-jointed!), but some of my friends have told me that by their standards I’m rather well-endowed. They might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment. My cousin Richard M. was responsible, several years ago, for nicknaming me ‘Vlad’ – the Impaler. He’d walked into the Gents’ of the Cambrian when I was communing with Nature and carried tales back to our table.
As always in Aberdare, word gets around. Sam and Gema have also contributed to this general viewpoint. Helen R. mentioned it on Facebook the other day. She reckons Gema came out of our brief relationship ‘mentally scarred’. I replied, ‘I promised to stretch her to the limits. She thought I was only going to teach her how to do cryptic crosswords.’
Anyway, the leather harness made me wonder what I’d done to earn this reputation. There’s enough free play in the straps for me to wear it as an armband if I so wished. I feel the same way when I look at the Ann Summers catalogue and wonder how the hell any guy can be expected to measure up to the plastic specimens on offer. Even so, it’s a very intense experience. I keeps me slightly turned on, and creates an eye-catching bulge in the jeans.
I was wearing it in the Conway one Sunday afternoon when Helen, Linda and Beverly came in. Helen was wearing a rather lovely beaded choker, and kept fiddling with it as we were talking. I find anything to do with women’s necks highly erotic, and she really wasn’t helping the situation. Eventually, I had to say something.
‘Will you please stop playing with your fucking choker, woman?’ I whispered in her ear.
Helen looked upset and asked me why I’d said it.
‘Because you’re turning me on, and I’m wearing a cock harness!’ I didn’t whisper that time.
That brought the conversation to a standstill. Linda and Bev wanted to know more. I had my digital camera with me, so I went to the Gents’ and photographed myself. I don’t think any of them could believe what they were seeing when I returned. I was all trussed up and nowhere to go. I wore it to a gig with Gema and Helen one afternoon a little while later, but they were both so cute and flirtatious that I took it off during a toilet break. I know my own limitations.
About two months ago a blast from the past walked into the Prince of Wales in Aberdare – Sue P. She was a couple of years below me in primary school, the same age as Phil and Gaz. I didn’t know her in school, but I knew her by reputation. Her family were among the original models on which Shameless was based, I think. She’d literally vanished off the radar. I hadn’t even thought about her for years.
Phil had met her previously (of course!) in one pub or another. We were having a pint together when she and the rest of her gang walked in. She made a beeline for us. I was wearing a skirt, and she thought I was the most amazing man she’d ever met. She’s not unattractive – petite and slim, with long dark hair – and intelligent, in a whacked-out kind of way. At first I thought it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
However, after a few minutes of ‘conversation’ (i.e. listening to her alcohol and/or drug-fuelled monologue) I realised that she was yet another victim of self-induced mental illness. I was hatching an escape plan when she gave me a load of New Age crap about how ‘I could never be a Pisces!’ (I was born on 18 March. Go figure!) When I correctly guessed her birth sign on the second attempt (probability 1/12), I told her that she was talking a crock of shit, made my excuses, and left.
She’s turned up like a bad penny a few times a week since. At least once she’s asked me for my number. I keep telling her my phone’s broken. One day I’ll have to bite the bullet and make something up, just to placate her. I’m not really in the mood for yet another insane woman in my life.
Anyway, last Sunday I was in the White Lion when Sue walked in. She’s had her hair cut short, and it’s black and spiky. She looks pretty great, in fact. But she was already pissed, and had brought her own drink in. I knew that something was going to kick off. I was wearing my skinny jeans, and she commented on them a couple of times. When she was passing the bar she grabbed my crotch and said, ‘Fair play, you’ve got a massive cock!’
I just smiled and said, ‘You should see it when I’m turned on.’
It all got very messy after that, and she ended up being thrown out (literally!) But we crossed paths again on Tuesday, when I was in the Prince with Rhian and Kim L. With no regard for the rest of the customers, she shouted across to me.
‘I liked what I felt the other night. Any chance of another go?’
Er … no. I’m celibate, after all, not fucking desperate!
So, since yesterday lunchtime (not taking any chances on meeting her again) I’ve been wearing the leather harness. I thought that, if she did try to cop another feel, it might scare her off. It felt a bit odd this morning, when my normal waking-up erection was straining at the leash. I have to use the cubicle in the toilet, mainly in case anyone else sees it. Other than that, it’s business as usual. (Oddly, talking of crazy women, Lynne is here for the first time since we fell out before my birthday. We haven’t even made eye contact. I’m in no position to get turned on by her tonight.)
Even so, I must say that the strapped-up tool creates quite an impression when I’m wearing skinny jeans. I wonder if I can persuade Sam to return the first one we had, and then give the key to someone to look after. Apart from a brief period during Jon’s funeral, I’ve been wearing a collar non-stop since 8 July 2011. The harness would be a real endurance test.

It’s That Parallel Universe Again …

In which The Author writes an open letter to his student friends

This should have been my last day of University (barring a couple of exams in May). You’re all on Facebook, boasting that you’ve submitted your last assignments, dissertations, portfolios and everything else. In a Parallel Universe, I’m desperately trying to get Turnitin to work (which it never does) and get my hard copies stamped at the Admin Office before 4 p.m. After that, I’m going to the Students’ Union with you to raise a well-deserved glass or five in celebration of a job well done.
Instead, I’m sitting in a town centre pub in Aberdare, having been unemployed since the summer. I explained the reason for this in Everything Changes, so there’s no point in reiterating it here.
Being unemployed is a two-edged sword. I’m in the pub because I couldn’t afford to pay my phone bill. Consequently, I’m no longer online at home. I have to pick up free WiFi where it’s available. Fortunately, the two pubs in which I’m a regular have given me the access codes, so I can use their systems. The free time has enabled me to extend my knowledge of Linux and other open-source software, which I wouldn’t have had time to do while I was working. I probably wouldn’t have had time to do it while I was studying either. I’m still the go-to guy when it comes to IT. I even earn the odd pint now and again.
But being stuck in Aberdare, a town with a very large number of ill-informed, poorly educated, narrow-minded individuals, means that I’m not getting the intellectual stimulation I need. After all, most people I meet seem perfectly happy to talk about sport, or TV, or reminisce about the good old days, or discuss trivia.
When serious issues do raise their heads, it doesn’t take long before ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) is blamed on foreigners, immigrants, Muslims, or some other intangible generalised group. In exactly the same way, the Nazis demonised ‘the Jews’ as though they all formed one homogeneous body with a single agenda. The Welsh working-class must be amongst the most right-wing people imaginable, as I discussed in <a title="No Future" href="https://cosmictigger.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/no-future/&quot; target="_blank"No Future.
The biggest back-handed compliment that someone can give you around here is to call you ‘College boy! (or girl!)’ Because it somehow implies that you’ve turned away from your roots and become one of ‘them’ – whoever ‘they’ are.
I remember the first time that someone called me that. I was in the lift of Hirwaun Flats, going to visit Mams. I’d come straight from school – an absolute nightmare journey for me, because it meant that I had to travel two miles on the bus, through Penywaun and Trenant, amongst some of the dregs of the school. I know I’m going to sound like Peter Hitchens on a grumpy day, but looking back, I certainly didn’t associate with them. We lived in a nice semi-detached house in Trecynon, my parents were both working, we were generally law abiding (apart from the odd bit of railway line trespass), we didn’t watch video nasties or porn films, we didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Our parents made sure we were home by 9 p.m., and when we went into town it was to shop on a Saturday, not to hang around the streets in the evenings.
In 1977, when we were the last intake into the Grammar School (see School Reunion), the politicians and educationalists were claiming that putting pupils of all backgrounds and abilities under one roof would allow the standard of achievement to rise overall. The competitive nature of the new system would, the argument ran, enable the stronger pupils to thrive and encourage the weaker ones to push themselves harder. It would be a real-life version of Waterloo Road, where a few dedicated and inspirational teachers would empower their charges to turn their lives around.
The educationalists and politicians were wrong, of course, as it didn’t take people long to realise. What really happened was that our classes became filled with aggressive, amoral, anti-social, disruptive, dysfunctional, disinterested individuals who were only there under duress. Vandalism, loutish behaviour, bullying, fights, truancy, and abuse of teachers and pupils (both verbal and physical) increased sharply. It seemed as though teachers were dividing their time between teaching and peace-keeping.
My friend Julie F. (Veiled Vicki’s older sister) teaches in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. She started wearing a pale blue beret to work a few years ago. Most of her colleagues and pupils thought it was just a cool fashion statement. (Julie teaches art, and always dresses strikingly.) Only a few of them realised that it was a sly reference to the headgear worn by UN forces in war zones across the globe.
Anyway, on this particular Friday afternoon, the bus was chock-a-block with foul-mouthed, unruly, shaven-headed younger teenagers. I shouldn’t be at all surprised to find that some of them are still around, waiting on the benches outside Sheppard’s Chemist for their methadone. I was glad to get off the bus at the Prince in Hirwaun and walk the short distance to the Beacons.
And, while standing in the lift, with my chosen reading matter sticking out of my blazer pocket, I met a complete stranger. I had no idea of his age, but he was a grown-up. That’s all that mattered. He pulled the book from my pocket and eyed it suspiciously. It was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
‘Oh,’ he said, handing me back the book with a strange look in his eyes. ‘College boy, eh?’
I can only assume in retrospect that, as it wasn’t a thriller, a western, a book about the war, or something to do with coal-mining or railways, it was outside his sphere of interest. Just reading the title had obviously told him that it was way above his (self-defined) intellectual level. I wasn’t ‘the same’ as him.
And it’s this same inverted snobbery that has led to the Welsh working-class being even more politically downtrodden, impoverished (both financially and culturally), and spiritually deprived, than they were a century ago. After all, that was the time when the great Workingmen’s Institutes were key features throughout the valley communities.
With their free libraries, meeting rooms, dramatic and operatic societies, these imposing buildings acted as bases and catalysts for self-education. They were the incubators for a new generation, the illegitimate children of the 1870 Education Act and the socialist drive towards self-empowerment. Some of these valleys autodidacts rose to political high office. Others achieved fame as writers or performers. A fair number stayed closer to home and became teachers, inspiring the next generation to transcend their roots and reach their full potential.
I wonder when everything changed, to the extent where education became something to treat with disdain, or to mock, or to vilify, or to reject entirely. It certainly happened somewhere in that period between my leaving primary school in 1977, and 2012 when I should be finishing university. I really don’t envy anyone who wants to teach in the current climate. I suspect that things are going to get worse, in spite of successive governments pledging to improve standards. They haven’t managed it in the last thirty-five years.
We’ve gone too far down the the American route of gang warfare and drug-related crime to turn back now. The lowest common denominator looks set to inherit the Earth, just as it inherited my school in 1978. Reading a quality newspaper, or finishing a book, or even holding a reasoned conversation without resorting to violence, is way beyond many of today’s youngsters.
Trapped in a media maelstrom of vacuous and transient ‘celebrity’, unable to distinguish fiction from reality, their minds blown on drugs and cheap alcohol, worshipping American ‘culture’, their attention spans restricted to the three seconds it takes to change channels on their Sky boxes, their weekends consisting entirely of the three Fs (Football, Fighting and Fucking), their sole concern is to get rich or famous (or both) by whatever means necessary.
They conveniently ignore the fact that most people don’t reach those dizzy heights. Without a skill, or some qualifications, or some accidental discovery of a latent talent, they’re going to be on the scrapheap by the age of twenty. Again, without wanting to sound like a Daily Mail columnist, a large proportion of the working class are a disgrace to their forebears who struggled to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
Today, the students I met at Glamorgan have reached the end of their three- (or four-) year journey. What will become of them, I wonder? I know that some of my friends have already applied for PGCE courses. Are they going into teaching because they want to, or because the economic situation makes the job market too fiercely competitive? Is it just a way of putting off the inevitable?
My cousin Adam has an MA in Archaeology and ended up working in a Wetherspoon pub in London before he embarked on his teacher training. He’s only recently been able to secure a full-time position – in a profession which (we’re constantly told) is currently experiencing a skills shortage.
Have a look back over my blogs since September 2009. Read my rather jaundiced comments about the piss-poor standards of literacy, numeracy, and ‘General Knowledge’ among some of my fellow students, and then you’ll see why I’m not especially upset about not finishing University. It’s arguable that many of them lack these basic skills because their own teachers had failed to grasp them.
There’s little doubt in my mind that this Compound Disinterest will increase in the next generation. My old schoolfriend Mark W. graduated from the same institution last summer, with a First in Politics and Sociology. He was the only one of his group to achieve that grade. He’s signing on as well.
In today’s environment, when everyone gets a dozen A* grades at GCSE, and everyone pisses (no typo!) their A levels, a well-typed CV and grammatically-correct covering letter automatically flags up the overqualified. Maybe there’s some truth in the old saying about the Valleys – ‘If you want to get on, you have to get out.’
Perhaps twenty years from now, Aberdare will be little more than a dormitory for Cardiff and Newport. Of the original inhabitants, stubborn, embittered old souls like Mark and I will be left here. We’ll be drawing our pitiful state pensions and reminiscing about the good times, when the coalmines were open and the town was thriving.
Of course, in yet another Parallel Universe, I didn’t fuck up my Chemistry A level and went to Bradford University. I graduated with a BPharm and went to work for Sheppard’s. In that particular scenario, I’m there now on a Friday afternoon, dispensing methadone to Aberdare’s smackheads. There’s always someone worse off than yourself, after all. Even if it’s you!
So, to my friends down at the University for whom this particular stage of your various journeys are ending, I wish you God Speed on the next stage. Wherever you choose to go and whatever you choose to do, I’m glad and immensely privileged to have known you all. At least, unlike the last time I didn’t finish University, we’ll be able to keep in touch virtually. And I sincerely hope we do. It’d be nice if you’d give a stubborn, embittered old soul some cause to smile now and again …