When it comes to sex, attitude is everything. And for the cast of characters in this erotic romp, the approach to sex often has one person perceiving the same sexual experience differently.
“It’s Been a Pleasure” starts with the story of Emily, a beautiful thirty-something author whose friends are shocked to learn she’s still a virgin. When she solicits their advice on what to expect, their own personal experiences – detailed in candid detail – lend insight into their views of sex.
The cast of characters in this novel is broad, from the misogynistic solicitor whose prowess may not be as impressive as he thought, to the gardener who tends more the lawns of bored female socialites to the nymphomaniac who parlays her passion into a career in prostitution, the descriptions of pleasure given and taken will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
By my calculation, I have had over four thousand five hundred orgasms in my life. If I live to be seventy-five I reckon I will have another seventeen thousand or so. This is based on the fact that I have been having at least one a day since I was a teenager. I intend to maintain that average as long as I can. I recently asked my best friend’s grandmother if she still has sex with her husband of fifty-one years and she assured me she does. She volunteered the information that she still has orgasms but not as often as she once did, in her youth. She’s down to about three a week now, she told me. I only mention this because it has recently become a subject for discussion amongst some of my friends. It all started a few weeks ago when William turned up at my house one Saturday afternoon. As so often in the past, he set about ruining my whole day. William and I were at the same school as teenagers. When I played with Sarah or any of my other friends he would often come and interfere, asking us what we were doing, demanding to join in when it must have been obvious to a blind man that we wanted to be left alone and certainly didn’t want to be bothered by a boy two years older than us. Sarah and I played together in our own private world, as young girls do at that age, and he would simply, well, interfere is the best word to describe it.
Well, now he’s gone and done it again, ruined everything for me, the stupid man. Well not quite ruined, but spoiled things at least. Tarnished, I suppose I would say if I am really being accurate. I wish he’d never turned up now. I’d just been doing some gardening; the weather was lovely, not very warm, but sunny and no breeze, a typical spring day really. I have a gardener, Tom, who comes in once week to cut the grass and do the bigger jobs, as I can’t manage the whole thing on my own. He’s a dear old soul really, Thomas, he must be about sixty or so but still quite active for a man of his age. I just putter about some afternoons and each weekend for the fun of it really, tidying up and a bit of weeding and so on. I sat with a coffee on the bench by the back door enjoying the weak sunshine. William was the last person I would have expected to turn up on a Saturday at three in the afternoon. Come to think of it he is the last person I expected to see turn up at my house at any time since he had left school about twelve years ago. He sort of invited himself in and before I had opened the heavy wooden front door fully he asked,
“Can I have something to drink?”
When I indicated the percolator bubbling away gently behind me and said,
“The coffee is fresh, would that do?” He replied with, “Have you anything a little stronger?”
Well, the only thing I keep in the house is wine, lots of it and very good wine actually. I opened a bottle of chilled Chablis and poured him a generous glassful, putting it gently on the table in front of him. He grabbed it and drank as if it were the last drink he would ever have. Then he looked briefly, sheepishly in my eyes, the one and only time he did in fact, and said,
“Can I talk to you?”
I said, fool that I am, “Yes, of course,” and he did, for about two-and-a-half hours.
I don’t know how we got on to the subject of his wife Julia and her “problems” but he seemed to think I could help him somehow. Anyway, after a certain amount of beating about the bush he got on to the subject, which had apparently brought him here in the first place. He started on about sex, talking to me as if my expertise on the subject knew no bounds. I think he thought I might be a sort of Doctor Ruth but hopefully without the ethnic and dialectal overtones. He had difficulty fixing his gaze on my eyes, but then again most men I meet tend to speak to my breasts and not my face. I wore a perfectly respectable flannel shirt over my bra but he seemed to look at me as if I were naked. I’m fairly sure that he had been drinking before he arrived judging by the way that he persuaded me to open another bottle of wine to keep him “topped up as he put it. At this point, I had drunk half a glass with him, to be sociable. I don’t drink before nine but I didn’t want to appear anti-social.
So there we were, chatting away, well he did almost all of the talking, when it must have become apparent somewhere in the depths of his Neanderthal brain that I hadn’t got a clue about the subject. He tried to tell me that Julia had gone off sex and that it was all her fault that he had become frustrated with their marriage. He mentioned blowjobs and wanking as if they were everyday subjects for conversation in my house. Considering I’m twenty-seven, nearly twenty-eight, live alone and have never slept with a man, let alone had sex, hardly rates me as an expert on anything that he mentioned.
I wish I’d never asked him that stupid question in the first place now. But it’s done and there’s no taking it back. I’d opened Pandora’s Box when I spoke without really thinking. Some people will say that I’m just an ignorant woman who should have known all about that sort of thing. William has done you a favor by educating you. Others will say they don’t believe that I didn’t know all about it.
“Why, everybody knows all about that, you just have to be telling a little lie, my dear!”
Well, I didn’t know. Honestly, I didn’t. I must have been out of the room or off school or late for the secret meeting in the woods or behind the bike sheds or some other place when it came up for discussion. Until William tried explaining it all to me I really didn’t believe that he was talking about the same thing at all. I know you may find it hard to believe but it’s true. I promise you. I don’t mean that I don’t know the facts of life and so on. I know how babies are made, grow and are born. Of course I know all that. I know that a man has a penis and what he has to do with it. I know he has to put that monstrous piece of flesh inside a woman and pump her full of his seed.
It’s not that I didn’t know. What I didn’t know, nor would I have ever guessed, is that the beautiful, dazzling, soaring, magnificent, stunning, exquisite, earth-shattering, ecstatic, shuddering, and fantastic climactic feelings I give myself on an almost daily basis were in any way associated with the sordid, smelly, disgusting, dirty, sweaty, noisy animal couplings I had seen so often as a child. I still can’t believe that any man, particularly an oaf like William, has the same feelings as I do when he’s grunting and groaning to finish himself off like that. It’s just not possible that they are one and the same thing. It can’t be possible that a woman can enjoy such a brutal thing, being prodded and pulled about that way. When I have an orgasm, it’s the most wonderful, relaxing, serene experience. I smile, even laugh out loud sometimes when I have one. The times I saw a man have what William tried describing as an orgasm was only ever when my father had a look of agony, horror, pain and disgust on his face. There is no way they can be the same thing, simply not possible, sorry.
I know all about it, you see. For years as a child I saw my darling mother suffer agonies and humiliation under the disgusting beast who is my wretched father. I watched them, naked and sweating together, struggling obscenely with one another. He would groan and shout, swearing like an East End dockworker. He used filthy, awful gutter words. He called her the most disgusting, vile things over and over again. Words you will never hear me use. Poor Mummy would be crying out in pain, “Oh my God, God no, you bastard”, using the F word and screaming in raw agony sometimes as he reared over her like a wild animal. I know all about that side of it. I’m not so dumb and innocent as you might think.
They thought I slept but how could I sleep when he almost tore her apart with that enormous pole of flesh stabbing inside her? He even stuck it in her backside sometimes and she would swear at him. Crying out disgusting things like, “You’re, well, killing me; your great prick will kill me.” She used words I can’t write here, begins with C, you know the one. How could she be enjoying that sort of treatment for God’s sake? He even made her take it in her mouth sometimes. She would be choking on it as he stuffed it down her throat. He would make her lick it and suck it clean when he squirted his juice stuff over her beautiful face. I watched the most totally brutal and degrading spectacle you could ever imagine. Utter humiliation; that is the only way to describe it.
I had a circle theatre seat at the top of the stairs looking down in to our big open living room. The scene was always well lit. My father seemed to enjoy watching his performance in the huge mirror above the fireplace. My mother seemed to spend most of the time with her eyes closed and an ugly grimace on her face. I watched my mother scrape the flesh from his back.
Perhaps I should give you a bit of background to try and explain how all this came about. I am an only child. What a ridiculous expression that is, an only child! I had very few friends at school, only Sarah really, and she lived miles away from me so I only saw her actually at school. We both knew Julia as well, but she wasn’t a really very close friend to Sarah and me until later, well, until I got breasts really. Sarah and I used to meet outside school times only when we were older but by then she had a boyfriend and pretty much clamped up about the whole subject. I think they were ‘doing it’. Of course, at that time I didn’t know what “doing it” involved. I suppose she didn’t want me telling any tales. Now I realize she simply kept keeping her guilty secret from me.
Sarah must have known about it but she never said a word. I still wouldn’t have believed what William told me except that I rang Sarah and asked her version of the event. She laughed and said, “Surely you must be joking, you mean you really don’t know? For God’s sake this is the twenty-first century and you never did it. Never, really Oh my God! That’s awful. I don’t believe it, that’s incredible!”
She made it sound like the biggest joke she’d ever heard. I don’t think I like Sarah very much anymore. She never trusted me enough to tell me all about it when we were younger and all she can do now is laugh at me because I’m twenty-nine and never ‘did it’. Well, big deal is all I can say. So what?
If I tell you how it feels for me, difficult though that is likely to be using only the limited medium of words, maybe I can explain why I believe it is a quite different experience for me than the one William described to me in some detail. How can I begin to describe an indescribable feeling? How can you tell a blind person about the wind, or describe a Rembrandt painting using just words? How could a deaf man understand by simply reading the score, the emotion engendered by music by Verdi or Beethoven? Well, all right, apart from Beethoven then.
If I can make a reasonable job of it then you will be able to see that no-one can possibly believe that the grunting, struggling, disgusting noisy exhibition that people call “lovemaking” can be in any way related to the experience that I have. Ever since I can remember, from about the age of twelve or thirteen, I have done what I do, in virtually the same manner, at the same time every day. I can’t really remember the first time as being a specific event, rather it wasn’t there and then one day, a little later it became part of my life. I didn’t know what to call it; I knew I loved it and the way it made me feel. It began out of simple curiosity. I watched my parents doing those awful things that I always associated with a sense of guilt and disgust. One evening after my father had grunted and roared to his gruesome completion, my mother lay exhausted on the rug in front of the fire, her long legs splayed open as my father rolled off her and slept for a while. She put her hand between her legs and began to rub herself. It lasted only for a few minutes until she moaned very quietly and fell back on the rug and slept herself. She had a broad grin on her face for the first time that I could ever remember when they were doing these things together.
So curiosity got the better of me. I discovered that if I did what my mother had done for long enough I could get a very pleasant feeling down there. I didn’t discover for some time that if I continued long enough I could bring myself to orgasm. I even used to stop short because I was frightened of the feeling. I felt sure I was going to wet myself if I carried on. Of course I didn’t know the word orgasm until many years later.
I begin, as I do every day, by showering at around seven o’clock. My bathroom is a thing of beauty. An open shower is attached to the far wall; the surrounding walls are covered in pale yellow Italian tiles. The whole floor is a light biscuit color of finely textured, slip-proof tiles. There is a full-length mirror on the wall opposite the shower. I spend far too much time in my bathroom but it is my morning room. I do a lot of thinking and planning in here so I don’t consider it all a waste of time although some might think I do waste rather a lot of hot water!
Showering takes an age because of the amount of soap I use and the constant repetition of the most pleasurable parts of the whole operation. I repeatedly soap my breasts, squeezing gently, pulling carefully on my nipples until they are slightly distended. These are the first actions in what has become part of the ritual of self-gratification that I now know as masturbating. What an ugly word for such a beautiful experience.
Masturbate – Manual stimulation of the genital organs for sexual pleasure.
To wank, to toss off, beat your meat, pull your plonker, shag the five fingered widow, shake hands with a stranger, choke your chicken. William explained that all these terms and more refer to masturbation. To me they are disgusting expressions of male masturbation. It is obviously a word invented by men. It has a slightly distasteful sound to it. It sounds all slippery and sordid. Master, manly, dominant. Stir – to move rhythmically, back and forth, round and round. Bate – angry, to beat, to pound.
If women were allowed to invent words it would be something entirely different when referring to that which I do for myself. The term would be something soft, feminine, ladylike, clean and wholesome. Perhaps something like sylpha-rhythm. Or maybe carresema; whatever, I don’t know. But certainly never ‘masturbate’. For simplicities sake I suppose I shall have to use it here though. I’ve since learned a few new expressions when it comes to female masturbation which are quite nice though – tipping the velvet, polishing the pearl and flicking the bean come to mind.
Anyway, back to my shower. I can feel a slightly warm sensation, almost a tingle, spread from my breasts, as I soap and fondle them, down over my belly and then between my legs. It’s almost the same feeling you get when you see a really sad or emotional film and you’re just about to cry, but not quite, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, my soapy hands roam free all over my body. Every square inch is soaped and rubbed clean. Then it’s back to my breasts, over and over again until the tingling between my legs takes over as the dominant sensation. I bend my knees slightly and begin to rub the palm of my right hand over the outside of my vagina. Not too hard, just enough to make the tingling sensation rush back up my body, reversing its earlier course, back to my breasts.
Using words like ‘vagina’ and ‘breasts’ seems strange to me in a way. I mean, I never use them in everyday conversation, for goodness sake. I write books for children so they are hardly likely to feature much there, are they? I shall have to use them here though to enable me to better describe exactly what I do. I suppose I shall just have to get used to the idea. There are some words that you find you just never use. I don’t mean just the dirty ones, but others you read in newspapers or books but never hear in conversation.? Words like volatile, diametric, eruption, apposite, mobility, cordial, and hundreds of others that you know the meaning of but never use. Strange isn’t it?
I could go on for several minutes longer and give myself that shuddering sensation I so love but that would be to deny me the elements of anticipation, of restraint, of discipline, which makes the eventual event such an overwhelmingly rewarding experience. Without these elements, my orgasms would just be so many dots on a page. As it is, they are the lines written under my diary entry of each day. That’s why I take the whole day to masturbate, not just a few minutes at the end of the day, but the whole day. That’s why this is going to take some time to describe the whole thing properly. That is why I shall have to keep stopping to explain what I’m doing. You see it’s not just a continuous series of strokes bringing me to an orgasm; it’s so very much more than that. It is almost a way of life. You should try it if you haven’t already!
Drying myself with huge expensive towels is as much a part of the whole process as anything else. Have you ever taken the time to dry yourself properly? I mean slowly from head to foot, pausing to get in every nook and cranny of your body. Standing in front of my full-length mirror, I watch myself being dried by a pair of intimate hands, travelling slowly to and fro, gently absorbing the moisture from my smooth, pale skin. Of course I spend a lot more time on my breasts and between my legs than I do anywhere else.
Bach’s Suite number three, Air, or something equally melancholy is gently wafting through the room from my mini music player as the steam clears from the mirror. The music is as important a component as any other. It invades the senses. Perfume helps too. I know my body is in good shape because I see what other people admire in a woman. I study my body in the full-length mirror. Not just for a moment, but for a long while. Using baby oil, I caress it with my hands and my eyes follow carefully where the fingers travel. I suppose while I’m here I should describe to you what I see in the mirror. This is a cheap literary trick used by writers who have no imagination but I’m not a writer in that sense when it comes to this. This is written for Lizzy, who recently asked me to do it, so you get the cheap version, the unedited musing type version. Real writing I save for my children’s books.
I am tall, just a few inches short of six feet, and slender but well proportioned. My hair is thick and naturally wavy, a very light brown, not quite blonde, and hangs just far enough to caress the top slope of my breasts. My face is oval and fairly ordinary, well, I think so anyway. Sarah told me a few years ago that I am very beautiful but I don’t fully trust Sarah any more. I have brown eyes with thick eyelashes that arch away from my nose. I think I have a look of perpetual surprise on my face but others say this is not so. My nose is straight and I think a little too long. My lips are somewhat too full for my taste.
My shoulders are a bit broad, but square. I hold myself tall and erect so my moderately large, almost globular breasts are a fairly prominent feature, even when I’m dressed. My nipples are fairly wide, almost flat and not so very much darker than the surrounding skin. Only the centers are dark and firm, the nubs like resilient rubber. I don’t feel I need to hide them even though I know they are such a source of constant curiosity and attention to the various men I meet. William told me once at school many years ago that I have ‘magnificent tits’ but then he’s such a boorish, misogynistic prat I wouldn’t necessarily listen to anything he tells you. They don’t droop more than I think is reasonable considering their size; in fact they stand quite firm and proud. I’m very happy with them.
My belly is flat and firm, I don’t eat too much and I’m quite careful with fat and sugar and so on. I cycle everywhere around Henley, to school, to the shops, back to my house in Greys and that keeps me in good shape. Also I travel miles along the river at least twice a week. As the road from Henley to Greys is up a great long hill I get more than my fair share of exercise. Consequently my long legs are my best features. The muscles are only slightly defined but the smooth lines seem to impress those that know about such things. For some inexplicable reason my fairly sparse pubic hair is almost black. I keep it quite short and trim it neatly, all the better to observe, on occasions, what my fingers are up to.
My bicycle is another source of pleasure, another ingredient in the daylong process. The saddle is broad and flat. The sensation when I’m pedaling is completely different to the one I give myself with my hands and fingers. I can ignore the feelings if I have to watch out for the traffic but generally I concentrate my mind’s eye on the delicate spot just in front of my vagina. I know it’s my clitoris, another clinical male word. It’s almost as if I can see myself from the point of view of the saddle, looking closely at the folds of flesh as they rhythmically slide to and fro as my legs circulate on the pedals. I can see the little nub of firm flesh being pushed between the pink skin – gently, softly, and sometimes moistly as I keep up the steady pace of my cycling. I don’t fantasize about anything as William explained to me that he did when he does it. I just concentrate on myself, on my own feelings. I can’t believe he does it and even if he does it can’t be the same as mine, surely. I’ll have to stop saying that. I’m beginning to repeat myself and that’s never a good habit. He insists it’s just the same for him so I suppose I shall have to believe it but really, I can’t!
I think he tried to tell me that he has fantasies at ‘doing it’ and that we should ‘do it’ because he thought it was such a waste to be beautiful and a virgin. He suggested we start by him coming on my fabulous tits. His words, not mine. He got very drunk that afternoon. He suggested I try it, conjure up a picture of Brad Pitt or someone like that. What would I want to do that for? I just concentrate on the sensation, the feeling. It’s not meant to be like anything else so why should I try to imagine a man having anything to do with it for goodness sake. Anyway, Brad Pitt is as good as married to that nice Angelina Jolie, who has a body not unlike mine, lucky her.
William is an idiot. He lives with his lovely wife, Julia not very far from me. He’s a solicitor now; he spends most of his time doing divorces, so he says. He tells me he can’t afford to leave Julia. He told me that their sex life is bloody miserable, particularly since Sophie arrived last year. This is where he began to lose me and I opened up this whole can of worms. He said straight out to me that she doesn’t come any more. I ask you, why would I want to know whether she comes or not for goodness sake?
Come where? He says he tries really hard to make her come but he can only keep it hard for so long. I’m afraid I didn’t really understand what he talked about. He had such a stupid-pleading look in his eyes as he told me all this. He said he came round for a coffee because Julia had gone shopping with a friend and that he hadn’t got his keys to get in. He kept on about this coming event as if it was the second coming of Christ but I eventually realized it must have been something else he referred to. Then I asked that stupid question
“What exactly do you mean by “coming”?”
He gulped another mouthful of my expensive wine and replied,
“Emily, you know very well what I mean.”
Now it becomes difficult to explain but I hope you understand as you learn more.
“No I don’t. I wouldn’t ask if I knew; would I?”
“Emily, do you mean to tell me you’ve never had an orgasm?”
“Well, what a thing to ask. That is entirely my business. I asked you about coming, not orgasms.”
So he went on to explain to me that coming is an orgasm; it is the same thing. He went on to say that you could come having either sex or masturbating although he used words quite different to those. Like an idiot I told him I wouldn’t know about any of this, as I have never had sexual relations with anyone before. He looked genuinely surprised for a moment then went rambling on. He tried to make sense but he had made his way halfway down the second bottle by then. He got confused so I’m sure he didn’t get it quite right.
He wandered about the room swinging his glass to and fro, spilling wine on the floor. Fortunately it’s Norfolk stone so it cleans up easily. When he’d finished jabbering on, I told him that I still did know what he was talking about. I knew exactly what he meant, I understood all that he said but I just never associated the two separate items, sex and orgasms, as being associated the way he explained it. I had to ask him several times to leave before he finally took the hint and went home around four. While I’m here, I suppose I ought to tell you a bit more about my background so that you get a clearer picture of what I’m trying to tell you.
I’ve already told you I write children’s books, so perhaps you can better understand what I mean about innocence. I have produced a series called Adventures with Amelia and Thomas. I’m on number seventeen already and they seem to sell very well. They keep me in bread and water so to speak. Well, considerably more than bread and water, actually. I’ve been writing since I left school and it’s made me more money than I know what to do with. I’ve invested in properties around Henley. I have five now, all rented out and making a good income. My big three-bedroom house is more than enough for me but I love the solitary living. Thank God I don’t have to live with my awful brute of a father any more.
I cycle to school every weekday, although I do have a car in the garage, a Mini Cooper S, naturally enough. The journey is about four miles and I stay there for three hours each day, teaching the young darlings at Meadowview reading, writing and good manners. Although good manners aren’t on the syllabus and I don’t get paid for it. The storybook writing I do every afternoon in my study, which is the second bedroom upstairs. I have a lovely old wooden desk set next to the large, west-facing window, looking off down the garden. My laptop sits in front of a large, plasma monitor. My music collection is on permanent shuffle with all my favorite music, mostly classical but some jazz and even country included. I religiously sit there writing and editing for three hours each day. I now produce a new book around every four months. I’m glad I could afford to leave my parent’s home when I did. I had just reached my twentieth birthday when I bought this house. I bought it just before the prices went really crazy a few years ago. I had only written three books. The first two only sold a few but the third one sold like hotcakes and then people began to buy the first two and I got heaps of money all of a sudden. Believe it or not, I went to see William; the only solicitor I knew back then. William advised me to buy this house. It’s about the only sensible thing he ever told me. I also have a little villa in Corfu where I take my holidays. It’s such a blessing to get away from the rat race. I have a different procedure when I’m in Corfu but that’s another story.
At four, I go down and indulge in my one real luxury, a swim in the indoor pool. I had it built after I bought the house. It is annexed to the side of the house in a copy of the garage on the opposite side of the house. It took some getting through the planners but they eventually relented. My solicitor later told me that I should have turned up in my buttoned white shirt with the top two buttons undone and a tight dark navy blue skirt. A broad smile for the planning officer the very first time we applied and we might have had the permission a whole lot sooner! I swim for forty minutes or so. Steady, rhythmically churning out the lengths using my crawl stroke. I swim around a mile and a half every day. Swimming naked is such a pleasure. I concentrate on the feeling between my legs as they scissor to and fro in the warm water. Then it’s tea and a cake or crumpet time, my one naughty weakness each day. If I have shopping or chores to do then now is the time, otherwise I move into the living room and read for an hour or two. Around six I think about dinner.
In the evenings, two or three nights a week I attend the theatre, concerts or opera. Sometimes in Henley or else I take the train into London. My life is very busy, I rarely have time to socialize and even if I did I wouldn’t care to so very much. I go to the odd party now and then but I always come home alone. Purely my choice I should explain. I have never invited a man into any other room than the kitchen of my house and then they are mainly tradesmen. A man has not even kissed me properly but I can’t say that I mind really. So yes, I am an ignorant innocent, a virgin. A rarity in this day and age of sexual promiscuousness and loose morals, but I am happy with myself.
I do get sidetracked very easily. I’m sorry. I’ll try to stick to the point. I just thought a bit of