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A Brief Return to Craigslist


1 Minute Read

I have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist, the American noticeboard with sections devoted to job, property, services and dating. I love, well, its randomness, the way it always manages to turn up someone somewhere who can quash a bug on my website or make my PowerPoint presentations shine. I hate how finding those people often means having to wade through the dozens of imposters, con artists and fantasists who use the site. Still I am loyal; at least from time to time.

Recently I did use it for something mutually beneficial. While searching for an interior designer who wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I discovered one who refused to charge me on the understanding she could showcase the work as a way of achieving her British Institute of Interior Design qualification.

And then there’s the sex stuff – mutually beneficial but for different reasons altogether.

Eight years ago, before Tinder arrived on the scene and stole some of Craigslist’s thunder, Craigslist was an easy way to find local travel guides with special ‘perks’. I was in my mid-forties at the time, visiting Rome. I encountered one very nice young man who travelled all the way from Naples to Rome to meet me and show me around the city. He arrived, took me for a walk around the Coliseum and then, in my 5-star hotel room, he performed his final generoso—making me squirt all over the 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Craigslist had its purpose back then, it made business trips more fun.

Given my happy history with Craigslist, on the first day of spring, when the sun was shining brightly, the daffodils were in bloom and even complete strangers smiled at me while shopping on Kilburn High Road, I decided to throw the dice and post a personal on Craigslist. I was horny and was hoping to find, if not a partner, at the very least a shag.

Having just attended a workshop at the UK Dating Fair the weekend previously, entitled “Who Am I Compatible With?” a class that encouraged us to seek partners with shared values (apparently, it’s a myth that opposites attract), I was inspired to make my desire clear from the start:

Dominant, tall, slim man (45+) sought by confident, attractive woman.

 I listed the attributes I was seeking: someone older, wiser, perhaps semi-retired, a lover of good food and wine and travel. I mentioned that I generally identified as submissive but leaned towards being a take-charge person in my day-to-day life. I specified no toy boys or married men, knowing from past experience, on Craigslist at least, that many men tended to skip the ad’s text and go straight to the image. I’d posted “no one under 40” and within five minutes received dozens of messages from Millennials telling me I was the perfect vehicle for their MILF fantasy.

In my ad, I requested that the man have all his own teeth and was able to write in full sentences, and I made a point of noting that I preferred men who looked after their bodies. “Most importantly,” I added, “you do not take yourself too seriously, are naturally curious about the world and interested in what others have to say.”

I pressed submit and, as has been my experience in the past on this site, within a few minutes the replies came flooding in.

There were the usual rejectees: men who couldn’t spell or who used text speak, recent college grads my own sons’ ages, and guys who provided a cock shot, a phone number, and nothing else. However, there were also half a dozen that stood out. They included a 45-year-old firefighter who claimed to be in ‘good shape.’ I was suspicious, given my CL experience with men and knowing that “good shape” was a subjective term. Another was a 39-year-old banker based in Canary Wharf with a penchant for poker and a ‘mature city professional,’ who apparently thought that information alone was enough to entice me. And there was a man named Bryan, a 47-year-old Canadian based in London, who sent me lots of pictures of his erect penis. It was of a pleasing size and shape, although I’ve always preferred a man who keeps it in his pants until after a face-to-face meeting, after which making a penile appearance is the logical next step.

After skimming through another ten or twenty messages, one arrived that contained the four magic words guaranteed to make me wet. Semi-Retired. Investment. Banker. That is – a man with money and time on his hands. I’m not a gold digger but I’ve funded most of my relationships and no longer have an interest in doing so.

The banker’s name was John and he had a double-barrelled surname which indicated Eastern European origins. A quick Google search revealed a slightly dodgy past. He’d had some kind of run-in with the FCA over an investment scheme that hadn’t gone well, and been suspended by his employer, one of the larger banks. But then, is that really unusual in that business? Over the years, I’d read numerous stories in the broadsheets about bankers cooking the books or setting up dubious trust funds or Ponzi schemes. At least John hadn’t gone to prison. He seemed interesting, at least, and probably had a story to tell. I got in touch.

John told me he spent most of his time managing a block of studio apartments he owned in West London and one he had just purchased in Leipzig, his hometown. He had a nice voice, sounded friendly and relatively interesting.

We met on a Sunday afternoon, at a Hilton Hotel bar, at John’s suggestion.

I got there early and took a seat at the back of the room, away from the handful of other customers scattered around the cavernous space. Dissonant jazz music was playing through the speakers. The décor looked like it had been lifted from a Bond movie —dark brown wallpaper, long mirrors, large high-backed 60s-style chairs. The bar was twenty feet long and its stools were deserted. I ordered a glass of Malbec, handed my card to the waitress, and hoped I wouldn’t be drinking alone. Having been stood up on dates with Craigslist prospects before, I’ve learned that one man’s “I’ll be there” is another’s “Sure, unless a better opportunity arises.”

John arrived 10 minutes later, in a mix of brown tweed jacket, purple flowery shirt, a pair of jeans and a grey flat cap—country gentlemen, by way of Bayswater. His skin was almost transparent and so white it made him appear otherworldly. Slim and about six feet tall, he took off his hat to reveal a shiny, bald pate. He had small blue eyes and slightly lopsided lips that I felt drawn to because their asymmetry was surprisingly fetching.

I was in no position to judge him, as I was wearing jeans, tan suede cowboy boots and a multicoloured trilby, which covered my long hair, recently tinted fuchsia, my nod to difference.

I stood up to kiss him on both cheeks. “You made it,” I said, the surprise barely hidden in my voice.

“Well, of course,” he replied, sincerely.

John called the waitress over and asked her whether she had any non-alcoholic cocktails. Red Flag number #1. It was late afternoon and I knew John had taken public transport. A drink or two usually takes the edge off first meetings. It looked like I’d be drinking alone. By the time, his non-alcoholic mojito appeared, I had almost finished with my wine and ordered another, not caring whether that might bother a non-drinker.

We discovered a shared interest in property, as I’d recently renovated my home. He told me about his property portfolio and a renovation project he had been working on in a remote Eastern European city, now almost complete. After an hour we were still talking about it. He took out his phone and we went through the slide show of images on it: the newly tiled bathroom, the dining table shipped from Italy, the balcony and roof terrace. Like so many other men I’d met online, the focus of the conversation was him. What he was doing, his own achievements, what he enjoyed. And I put up with it because I was ambivalent. And horny. And he was sufficiently intriguing.

“Maybe you can help me christen the bed,” he said, confidently. I laughed nervously, despite myself and despite my experience with Craigslist men. I hadn’t even had a sip of my second drink and he was already steering the conversation towards sex. “And you can give me some decorating advice too,” he added.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to fuck him or be his interior designer. Still, he ticked many of the qualities I was looking for in a potential partner. He was a semi-retired. As a former investment banker, he was solvent. We shared many interests. While he wasn’t traditionally good looking, he could hold a conversation, although laughter was in short supply. He confessed to voting for Nigel Farage and I wondered if I could overlook that. I wasn’t sure I could. That would be hard to explain to my friends, who were rooting for Jeremy Corbyn at the time. I was horny, so I tried to remain open-minded. We had met on Craigslist, after all, not Guardian Soulmates or one of the staid sites targeting those seeking long-term relationships.

We ended up taking the Jubilee Line together. As we entered London Bridge station, John turned around on the escalator, pulled me towards him and pressed his lips against mine. His tongue probed my mouth. I was a little merry with the drink so I let him for a few seconds. Then I pulled away.

“Come back with me,” he said. I told him I had to work the next day and get up early, which was half true. By this point, I just wanted him to go.

We got into the carriage, while I counted the stops until he got off at Baker Street. I didn’t want to go home with him. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see him again. I was desperate for him to say something funny, to break the awkward silences, the uncomfortable conversations about sex and the misplaced intimacy.

When I got home, I went to my computer and saw another 40 emails in my inbox, all of them responses to my original Craigslist post. I deleted them all. And then I pulled up the ad and pressed delete. Craigslist had once been a reliable site for connecting with men, back when I thought of men as items on a takeaway menu: to be selected, delivered, nibbled on, then tossed aside. Craigslist still worked that way: it brought me a wide selection of prospects and then face-to-face with John, a man who found me attractive and wanted a shag. Just hours earlier, I’d thought I’d wanted the same, and when given the opportunity, I’d opted out.

Special thanks to Mark Rathmell for creating the illustrations.

The Erotic Guide to London: Torture Garden


1 Minute Read

I’m standing in a queue at least 100 yards long leading to the doorway of a club opposite Victoria Station. In front of me is a man, 6’7” or thereabouts, dressed in a latex black catsuit and matching thigh length high heel boots. The woman next to him is Japanese and sporting an itsy bitsy white rubber bikini that barely covers her breasts and bum.  As for me, I’ve gone all out and am wearing a knee length A-Line skirt of my own creation crafted from a clear vinyl, gold sparkle shower curtain, a bronze lace embossed rubber bra, black vintage waist cincher, fishnet stockings and 6” high heels.  I’m about to enter Torture Garden, the most famous fetish club in the world, where the torture for the majority of attendees comes in the form of the fashion police on the door.

Just in case you think I’m joking, here’s what was written on the ticket to the event, the TG London Fetish Weekend Ball, leaving me in no doubt as to what I could expect on the night:

“TG is an extreme event with an extreme dress code, General no’s include: camo, suits (yes, even with a hat), denim (even black), cotton shirts, and regular trousers or normal party dresses or cotton underwear. Our dress code is FULL FETISH FANTASY, outfits must be head to toe effort, not just a gesture towards the dress code. You can email info@torturegarden.com before the night to check your outfit is ok.”

My two friends, visiting from NYC, are accompanying me. “Do you think they’ll let me in?” says Selina. She’s braless, except for some rope arranged ‘Shibari’ style over and under her humongous breasts. A black sheer long skirt covers her lower half incorporating a corset around her midriff. Black knee length biker boots complete her ensemble. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” I reply, not entirely sarcastic.

We enter the club where, once again, we join another queue, this one for the cloakroom. The line is winding its way up the staircase, where men and women are in various stages of undress while waiting to check in their duffel bags and coats. Off comes the daywear to be replaced by skimpy latex shorts or trousers, rubber dresses, uniforms or, occasionally nothing except some strategically placed electrical tape or a bit of cling film. Twenty minutes later, we’re finally inside the club where two separate sound systems are competing for their own dominance across the venue’s two floors.

Torture Garden is a rotating club, meaning they don’t have a permanent venue. Tonight we’re at the former home of Pasha in Victoria but we could have just as easily been at the Coronet in Elephant and Castle where the club often resides. There the former cinema’s space, featuring half a dozen rooms of various sizes along with a seated balcony overlooking a stage, lend themselves to the performances and BDSM play for which the club has become known – that and dancing, drinking and general debauchery. At Pasha one of the dungeon areas nearly backs onto the bar. The ‘couples’ area is not so much an area as a walkway along which some sofas have been positioned, perfect for the exhibitionists, not so great for those who prefer somewhere a little more discreet to shag. To top it all off, we’re packed like rubber clad sardines into the place. This is not my idea of fun.

The club is full to overflowing with over a thousand people of various ages and sexes. Despite the endless queuing and the club’s name, the vibe is friendly and fun. In my ten years on the scene, I’ve yet to see a drunken fight at TG. Spotting a spare sofa on the periphery of one of the ‘dungeon areas,’ we take a seat. I’m relieved. My feet feel as if I’ve been walking over hot coals. Lori, my femme Domme companion, with a penchant for flogging subservient men, has brought her club bag, a mock leather tripod roll filled with her favourite instruments of pain. My own Dom, who is absent on this occasion, has requested that I abstain from any activity unless it’s with his permission. So it’s up to Selina and whoever else volunteers to take up a position on one of the spanking benches to satisfy Lori’s desire. There is no shortage of willing subs. Lori is in her element.

Between the rubber and leather-clad audience gathering around the dungeon area and those on the various pieces of equipment within the space, it’s hard to know where to look. If you’re into people watching, Torture Garden is an orgy of visual treats. For those who think their clubbing days are well behind them, it’s comforting to see so many who are well past their clubbing heyday enjoying themselves.

For the next two hours, Lori has a ball trying out her new lilac vinyl flogger on Selina along with a sixty-something man dressed in an ankle length tutu and, yes, me. It turns out my Dom doesn’t mind me being flogged as long as the person holding the flogger doesn’t have a dick.

The only genuine torture of the night turns out to be when we leave and encounter yet another long queue leading to the cloakroom. The attendants are unused to so many customers with quite so much baggage. Well, that’s Torture Garden. My advice: if you go, leave your baggage behind.

I Went Back to Rio’s


6 Minute Read

I went back to Rio’s this week, the naturist sauna club, in Northwest London. I’d spent half a decade there, hanging out, getting laid, getting warm and then suddenly stopped five years ago when I met a guy who didn’t like me going there. I’d said, “OK, I won’t go back,” because I loved him and figured I’d had enough of being a swinger; it was time to settle down.

I’d thought about it often over the years, especially on the days when the weather was so cold and miserable, that it felt like my bones were freezing over. On those days, I missed Rio’s steam room and of being able to lie in there, often alone, for hours, until I was so warm, I could walk outside with my jacket half undone on a 5-degree day.

Other times, I thought about going back for the sex and the camaraderie. I wanted to be with other like-minded people, naked and free. Rio’s was a place I could always count on for a chat with a stranger and a fuck on the side… if I wanted it. I could have a steam, a sauna and go home. I always thought of it not so much as a swinging club but an erotic leisure centre. Even standing next to a naked man with a semi-hard on, showering, was a turn-on. How many other places could provide so much for the £8 entrance fee?

From time to time, I’d find myself in Kentish Town and I’d pass the place and I’d wonder whether it had changed. Would there still be a tin of McVities digestive biscuits at the bar? Could I still order a tuna sweet corn sandwich? I’d wonder they’d tarted it up, got a new steam room, whether there was still fake grass in the garden to lie upon. I’d reminisce in my head about the fun times I’d had, the laughs, the horny sex, and all the people I’d met.

For some long, it was my refuge. I’d pop my clothes and mobile phone in the yellow locker by the entrance and then forget about everything. It was like being dropped onto an alien planet where I could be and do just what I wanted and everyone was accepting. OK, maybe not the woman behind the bar, that always seemed to be wearing Marigolds, but all the rest didn’t seem to mind what did. For the few hours that I was there, I wasn’t anyone’s mother, or boss, or friend; I was just a naked middle-aged woman, usually amongst a sea of men.

Admittedly, the place was not for everyone. I tried to bring a girlfriend once and she wasn’t having any of it. “I get why you like it here,” she said, sitting in the steam room in a bikini while a guy opposite us leered at her. “But it’s not for me.”

In any case, now I’m single again, I figured, why not? I’d know soon enough, once I got inside, whether I really had moved on. I checked the weather report and it looked like being a glorious, hot day. I wanted to lie naked in a garden, soaking up the sun, and I couldn’t think of anywhere else in London where that was possible… besides Rios. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to go back too.

I checked Citymapper and it said I could be there in 40 minutes. A bus was leaving in 5 minutes. That was all the reason I needed. A small part of me was scared so I grabbed a bikini bottom before I left. In the past, I’d always gone completely naked because, after all, it was a naturist club but this time I didn’t feel so bold; I wanted some protection. And I’d taken one further precaution by enlisting someone to come with me, a local guy who was on a swinging site and seemed nice and attractive enough. I knew, if worse came to worse, we could ditch each other.

I went up to the door and paid the entrance fee, grateful that the woman taking my money was not the same one I remembered from my past. That woman always used to give me the up and down with her eyes as if to say, “I know what you get up to here.” Despite being five years since I’d last passed over that threshold, I half expected everything to be just as I’d left it.

I grabbed my towel, was buzzed through the door, noticing the new shiny, black mirrors in the changing area. Then I saw the familiar lockers with their key on a wide elastic strap. There was the same bin in the corner for our wet towels and the one, lone chair in the other. The rest was familiar too, although now in the garden there were rows of green plastic chairs where none had been years earlier, many of them broken. Some building supplies were tucked in a corner too like they always had been. Funny how some things never change.

I met my new friend and it turned out we had a lot in common, both being media folk and from North London. We were grateful when it turned out that our children, around the same ago, did not know each other. Conversation flowed easily. I went out and brought back a couple of beers from the shop across the street. A Hungarian guy came and sat down next to us and told us about the swinging club he used to run near Budapest. A guy opposite heard my American accent and asked my views on Trump, of course. Later, a man came round with some ice cream he had bought nearby and offered us each one. ‘What’s a hot day without ice cream?’ he said. My companion was smiling from ear to ear. “I can’t believe I’ve passed this place every day and never been inside.”

We struck up a conversation with a nice couple and, before too long, we were all playing together in one of the small side rooms. Sweat pouring off our bodies (the room was very small), we kissed and licked and fucked until the heat became unbearable. They were cute and fun. I hadn’t kissed a woman in a while; I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. How soft and small a woman’s mouth always felt compared to a man’s. Her boyfriend was well hung, horny and hard.

“I guess you’re back on the horse,” said my new friend. “Yes, I guess I am,” I said.

Something tells me I’ll be going back again soon.

The Erotic Guide to London: From the Flames – BDSM in Camberwell


1 Minute Read

‘What do you think?’ says Anne, 50, slim with shoulder length dirty blonde hair cut into a chic, rakish bob. She’s my favourite partner for naughty nights out, always up for a bit of fun. She’s holding up a micro, Brazilian bikini that stretches the meaning of the word. It’s made of two, tiny black triangles held together with thin strands of green string.

‘No,’ I say. ‘I prefer the gold 70s dress you just showed me. Or maybe the gold knickers and the star nipple pasties?’

‘Or maybe both?’ she says, smiling, a twinkle in her eye. ‘I can start with the dress and then take it off if I get too warm.’ We all agree this seems a very sensible idea.

Kat, meanwhile, is changing into a fishnet, long sleeved leotard with a pair of flowery knickers underneath, her nod to the ‘tropical theme’ of the evening. She’s German, late 30’s, attractive with brown, spiky hair and a handsome face.

My legs and armpits have been shaved. My toe and fingernails have been painted baby blue. Hair washed and tonged into soft curls, it only remains for me to put on my costume, in this case a tribal printed string bikini, black fishnet dress and high, gold wedged sandals topped off with a turquoise blue straw cowboy hat. The plan is to catch an Uber to Camberwell around 10.45pm, arriving at Totally Tropical Taste around 11.30pm, when the fetish club should be in full flow.

I’m not exactly a newbie when it comes to BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadomasochism) but unlike many on the scene, I don’t like pain. I’m scared of needles and I’m only comfortable with being spanked or flogged by an experienced ‘master’. I learnt that after a couple of trips to Torture Garden where, after having my BDSM cherry popped at the hands of an experienced Dom skilled with a flogger, I came to understand the fine line between pain and pleasure. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since then about anything that involves even the remote possibility of getting hurt, it’s best to bring in the BDSM geeks, the guys who know the merits of one implement over another and are experts at using them.

Silver is such a guy. We met at a Kinky Salon party and, since then, have continued our relationship via Facebook. He’s in his 50s, tall, slim, with grey, spiky hair and a small, silver earring in one ear and looks like a cross between a beatnik poet and a rock star. He also happens to be a Dom. ‘Get off the Internet and come meet some people in the real world,’ he’d suggested when I told him about my failed attempts to meet anyone interesting on OKCupid. ‘There’s a club night going on in Camberwell called Totally Tropical Taste and they’ll be some really cool people there. I’ll put you and a plus one on the guest list.’

So here we are, three chicks at the door of a converted pub turned nightclub tucked away on a back street in Camberwell. It’s nearly midnight and there’s a small but very colourful, mixed crowd already there. A DJ is playing techno music in the bar area and there’s a woman, who was/is a man, at the bar wearing a white pencil skirt with flowers on it. I scan my eyes across the room and spot a woman in a tiny, rubber yellow bikini with a blow-up parrot tied to her shoulder. A black guy in a 70s floral dress wearing a hat composed of palm leaves is dancing with his 6’5” stick thin boyfriend, his face covered with a ‘batoola’, the black eye mask typically worn by older Bedouin women. A peach coloured handbag is slung over his shoulder matching his high-heeled ankle boots. A few guys have tried to spoil the costume party by wearing their street clothes but, thankfully, are in the minority. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.

Around one, the fun and games kick off. Helen, the club’s hostess, is urging people onto the dance floor for the start of the Flame Games, the club’s own alternative Olympics. Anne is delighted to win the pin-the-banana on the monkey competition. Next there’s a game of let’s-see-who-can-hold-a-coconut-between-your-legs-the-longest-while-dancing. The prize is an expensive vibrator. A tall guy in striped shorts and a tight t-shirt is going head to head against a woman in heels and a rubber dress. I sit on a stool watching from the sidelines. I’m more interested in what’s going on in the dungeon, hidden in the club’s basement down a steep flight of steps.

I make my way carefully down each step in my high heels, careful not to trip, until I reach a large dance floor. I spot Silver at the door of another room. I walk over to him and, standing at the entrance, peek in. I can see a king size gothic style bed covered with a red vinyl sheet, a spanking bench and steel St. Andrew’s cross. The room is also completely empty. My disappointment is palpable.

‘Where’s the people? Where’s the flogger?’ I ask Silver, who reveals himself to be the dungeon’s gatekeeper. ‘They’re coming, they’re coming,’ he promises, somewhat unconvincibly. ‘But, in the meantime, there’s always this,’ he says raising his right hand, palm facing outward. Faced with the prospect of not being flogged or being spanked, the choice has already been made for me.

‘OK,’ I say, moving over to the St. Andrew’s cross. ‘But don’t be too hard on me.’

‘Not there,’ he says. ‘It’s too wobbly. Bend over that.’ He points to the bench.

I take up my position on the bench, leaning over it bending until my hands touch the floor, my bum covered by the string bikini and fishnet dress. He stands behind me and gently pats my bum, gradually getting harder, my bum getting warmer and warmer until I feel the sharp sting of his slap and the pleasure that follows. He bends over and whispers in my ear, ‘Good girl.’ It’s an incredible turn-on. Then he slows down, moving his hands gently across my bottom and down my back, tenderly. He varies the pressure from spanking to stroking until my bum cheeks are on fire and I’m experiencing a mini flood of endorphins. After ten minutes I stand up. I’ve had enough. ‘Don’t I get a kiss?’ says Silver. Our tongues meet, the fuzziness in my brain switched up a notch or two. At that point, I would have done anything he asked me to.

I stand up and a little crowd has gathered at the entrance to the dungeon room. It turns out they’d been watching all along. I’m fine with that. Being watched comes with the territory at a club where everyone is an exhibitionist of one sort or another. Arriving home at 4am, I jump in the shower, grabbing a bottle of Aloe Vera on the way to soothe the red blotches and streaks that have formed on my behind. It’s an altogether pleasing end to a fabulous party.

From the Flames is taking a break until next year.

At 55, I’ve Given Up Bad Sex


1 Minute Read

I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about orgasms and penetrative sex.

When I was in my twenties, orgasms were easy to come by. I started messing around with myself as an adolescent so I knew how to make myself come. I had my first one, while having penetrative sex, with an old school friend at the same time as he lost his virginity. Yes, you read that right. A guy who had never had sex before made me come. Can you imagine?

I remember the moment as if it happened last week. I was in his university dorm room, on his single bed. I remember getting on top of him and grinding for a bit, maybe not more than 5 minutes, and I just came. It was eventful and yet not eventful, in that it did not require much effort. OK, I might have said, “Wow, that was amazing.” It just happened and after that being on top became my failsafe position. Over time I learned I could orgasm a few other ways provided that my clit made contact with my partner’s public bone or belly. No clit contact, no orgasm. Simple.

I’m down with sex writer Jenny Block on vaginal orgasms who says, “The vaginal orgasm — which for all intents and purposes does not even exist — is not a mature orgasm, while a clitoral one is not immature. Orgasms can emanate from a number of parts of a woman’s body. But the clit is orgasm central.” True say.

I also learned that if I really wanted an orgasm, I needed to take control. I couldn’t rely on a man to make me come. In my twenties, most of my partners were fairly inexperienced and if there’s anything I’ve learned about sex over the years, it’s that practice makes perfect. I recall a lot of fumbling back then and almost no foreplay. The men came quickly and easily so it was really up to me to get what I wanted.

I spent my 30s bringing up children so orgasms took second place most night to sleep although if I wanted one, I could. I had no trouble having orgasms with my husband.

Then I hit my 40s and I got into the swinging scene. My vibrator became my trusted companion wherever I went. I started watching porn (both with and without partners) and having more and more adventurous sex. That’s when the problems began. I stopped experiencing or expecting an orgasm whenever I had sex. It wasn’t that they never happened, it just took a bit longer to get there. I blamed the vibrators. I became used to such intense clitoral stimulation, I became desensitized in the process. The porn didn’t help either as I recognized that the more I watched, the longer it took me to get turned on. If I was going to have a healthy sex life, I needed to wean myself off both or, at the very least, cut back.

I’m not obsessed with having an orgasm but I don’t believe it should be the sole preserve of men to experience one. I’m not an orgasm fanatic but I do believe it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. When I hear some of my friends tell me that they’ve never had an orgasm during sex (whether oral or penetrative), I just can’t understand why anyone would put up with that. In my opinion, for every woman that fakes it, that’s another man that has been allowed to get away with being lazy. Statistically 1 in 3 women have trouble reaching orgasm during sex with almost 80% having difficulty from vaginal intercourse as well. Put it another way, there’s a hell of a lot of incredibly dissatisfied women out there.

Now I’m in my 50s and both my body and my choice of partners appear to be conspiring against me. One of the effects of menopause and reduced estrogen levels is that reaching orgasm can take longer and be less intense than before. This wouldn’t usually be an issue if not for the fact that at the same time I’m meeting men who, while top of their field professionally, have clearly not put their 10k hours in the bedroom. Either they’ve been with lots of women who have faked it or they simply haven’t cared. One thing is for sure; they haven’t got a clue how to make me come. Often, I have to wait until they leave to finish myself off.

I’ve never thought of orgasm as being the ultimate end game while having sex. I’m not obsessed with whether I have or don’t have an orgasm each time but when I’m with someone, really turned on and then left wanting more, I’m not happy. Sometimes the time taken to get to orgasm can be more trouble than it’s worth, especially when I’m tired or had too much to drink. At that point, a cuddle is just as good. But when I’m having sex I want it to be good sex. I expect the pleasure to go both ways. I want the connection to be total. I certainly don’t want to feel that my orgasms don’t really matter or that I’m on the clock.

If our twenties were about fumbling and experimentation, then surely our 50s should be when all the experience and wisdom comes to fruition, I want making love to be more than 3 minutes of pleasure for one and not the other. Recently, I’ve been contemplating whether I should create a manual, a sort of user’s guide to my body. Why risk disappointment when I could simply provide a set of instructions? A how-to-get-me-off guide I could send to a prospective or current partner would avoid that awkward, but inevitable moment when he asks, ‘Did you come?’ and I say, “No, but it felt nice.” Sex needn’t be prescriptive but I’d rather if a guy knew in advance that I don’t enjoy having my nipples squeezed so hard they turn black and blue. Or that the reason why I may feel so tight has nothing to do with my anatomy but simply because I’m not quite ready to be penetrated.

One of the advantages of being older is that I can’t be bothered to have bad sex anymore, not when I have a massive Rolodex of kinky memories. Life, as the cliché goes, is just too short. I’ll leave you with another quote from Jenny Block, “It’s not rocket science. It’s sex. And if you’re not doing it right, there’s no reason she should be doing it with you at all.” Snap.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places: Episode 5


1 Minute Read

He turned up in a scruffy t-shirt, unshaven, reeking of fags. His hair was well past his ears and looked, frankly, ridiculous. Welcome to the world of Fab Swingers. Last week I decided to go back to my spiritual home and logged into a site I hadn’t used for nearly a decade. Back in 2006-2009 I was a regular there and remembered having some good times with a handful of handsome, kinky men. Having zipped through Craigslist and Plenty of Fish in a couple of weeks, going on ‘Fab’ (as it’s known by its regulars) seemed the logical next step on my journey to find love in all the wrong places.

How wrong could wrong be? I was about to find out. Find love? I’d be surprised if anyone on Fab even gets laid, which surely is the point of a swinging site. Never have I seen so many disembodied penises in one place. I like a nicely shaped penis just as much as any straight woman but I’ve always preferred them attached to a body and a brain. These are penises seemingly without owners. Shaved penises. Circumcised ones. Penises that are curved and others that are long and straight. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re being asked to prove that not all penises have been created equal, you only need search by men on Fab. But where were the faces and bodies to accompany them? And why, for heaven’s sake, were the few profile pics on the site so, damn small? At my age, it’s hard enough to make out the features of a man on a 3”x5” print; never mind one that is just over an inch square.

The eternal optimist, I decided to give the site a go anyway. My heart was not really in it but the guy I arranged to meet lived within walking distance and, if you’ve learned anything about me by now, it’s that I don’t drive. Steve (not his real name) was bisexual, had a stall on Portobello and dabbled in photography. He also held a weekly swinging party at his house and Fab being a sort of Yelp for swingers, had reviews to prove it. ‘His blowjob was a bit lackluster,’ read one. ‘Must try harder next time.’ I’d seen his picture but it was so small and so blurry, he could have been a George Clooney look-a-like and I wouldn’t have been able to tell.

The meet was a disaster. We had very little in common and the tobacco smell wafting around my nose didn’t help either. When he complained about the price of the prosecco, “£7? Now I know why I don’t come here very often,” I knew we were going nowhere fast. Within 30 minutes I was out the door of the pub, having made an emergency call to a girlfriend. Within the hour, I was comfortably settled next to her in a comfy armchair at Picturehouse Central watching the real George Clooney on a big screen where I could make out all his lovely wrinkles and was feeling far better for it. When I got home I quickly deleted my profile off Fab. Enough of that nonsense!

It hasn’t been all bad. I did have a very nice time with a Tinder guy just recently. If I’m honest with myself, while he may not be perfect, he does tick the sexy, smart and fun boxes. Being a woman of discretion (hah!), I am not saying more than that. 😉 Sayonara for now and hope to see some of you at the Advantages of Age Launch party on the 23rd June! Click here for a FREE ticket. It’s going to be a good night.

Looking for love in all the wrong places: Episode 4


1 Minute Read

Week four (or five, I’ve lost count) of my quest to find love in all the wrong places and already I am exhausted, bored and frustrated. Gone are the halcyon days of the Internet, when online dating was self-selective and exciting. Back in the very early 2000’s, when far fewer people owned a computer than they do now, you could almost be guaranteed that anyone you met on an online dating site had a degree, and almost certainly worked in IT, Law or the Media. I have friends that I met over 15 years ago on dating sites that I’m still friendly with today. There was the very sexy war correspondent, the hilarious computer game’s writer, various lawyers and much more. I didn’t actually have sex with all of them but that wasn’t the point. They were interesting, articulate people that I would never have met in real life.

Contrast that to now when every man and his dog are online and the sifting process alone is enough to make me want to crawl under the duvet and never come out. Never mind that text-speak has become so ubiquitous, no matter what the age of the correspondent. Everyone online seems to think that it’s OK to spell “I” as i or “you” as u. It drives me crazy. I can almost forgive my university-educated son when he does it on his CV. It’s much harder to forgive a 50-something man who really should know better.

On the positive side, it’s easy to get a date. Some things never change, no matter what one’s age. Sure, it would help if I shaved 10 years off but I’m not that desperate… yet. Since my last post, I managed to fit in another date with Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome before he flew off on holiday for a week. Since his return, he’s not been back in touch and the Internet being largely unpredictable, I suspect he has had second thoughts or found a new play pal. I can pretend not to care but I do. He was lovely, local and had potential. Not boyfriend material (too many issues) but in a would-you-like-to-come-over-and-chill-out kind of way. For a moment, I thought I’d found Mr. Right for Now. Now I’m waiting for some kind of closure while appreciating that is asking for the moon, especially from a person whom one has met on Craigslist. The goodbye chat, face to face, was pretty much de rigueur before the Internet came along; now everyone knows that if they don’t text you back, it’s over.

One of my new rules about online dating is to take myself off a new site within a week of going on. I post my profile; gather up all the responses from the men happy to see a newbie and then bugger off after securing a date or two. I don’t want to appear like the house that has been on the market for 3 months and clearly has rising damp or some structural issues. No way. I stayed on Craigslist just long enough to meet someone interesting and then I deleted my post and republished it on Plenty of Fish. Once there, I arranged and had one date with a fun guy working in the Arts and then deleted my profile once again. We spent a lovely, platonic evening together but after he confessed to sharing parenting responsibilities with his ex, I couldn’t see a future for us aside from as friends. I have no desire to spend my precious weekends with someone’s else’s child, having just seen my own off so recently. At 55, I have a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t want and being a stepmum to a toddler isn’t one of them.

Also, I have to ask myself, is blogging about my dating life again the right thing to do? I’m not 40 anymore. What if one of my potential paramours reads about my adventures and is not amused? Back in my swinging days, the boys I slept with used to get a real rise (!) out of reading about my adventures (especially when they were involved). But I’m no longer a swinger and I actually do want to meet a life partner… eventually. What I’m saying is that this may be my last column. Or not. You’ll just have to come back and find out. 😉

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places: Episode 3


1 Minute Read

Well, what can I say? Just a few weeks ago, I was quite convinced that my sex drive had gone on a Victorian tour of Europe and had settled down somewhere in a bohemian hotel in Marrakech, having decided never to return. Then I went on a date with a handsome, dark stranger that I met off of Craigslist (yes, really!) that turned into a frenzied and passionate few hours in bed, reminding me of what I’d been missing. I’m not sure which Suzanne I prefer – the one with no libido or the one with the ravenous sexual appetite. Life being what it is – busy, unpredictable and full of surprises, we have not seen each other again. I am not tremendously bothered. As Doris Day once sang, ‘Que sera, sera.’

Amongst many of the advantages of age (and don’t let anyone tell you there aren’t any) is that I’m not pining or doing the weird, creepy, stalky stuff I used to do in my twenties. I haven’t just ‘happened’ to have passed by his flat, hoping he might be staring out the window and spot me. I’m perfectly prepared for the fact that our one encounter may have been just that – a very satisfying one night stand that got me back in the saddle.

In the meantime, my enthusiasm for craigslist has waned. I may have lucked out with Mr. Dark and Handsome but my one other date was a non-starter. Despite him revealing his Dom side (never a bad thing) and sending me a pic of his toy collection (a strap on, flogger, paddle and crop), I was not impressed when he then followed it up with the naked picture. I may come off sounding like a prude but gone are the days when I want to see a picture of a middle-aged, naked man, standing in front of his bathroom mirror, before we’ve exchanged bodily fluids.

While my own boys, now both in their twenties, have received their fair share of late night, drunken texts (millennials don’t seem to do the naked pic thing like baby boomers), even they have worked out that retaining an air of mystery is part of the game. It’s undignified and a little desperate when a fifty-something woman feels the need to send a naked pic of her not-quite-so-perky breasts to a fifty-something man, never mind the other way around. I prefer undressing in real rather than virtual life. It’s harder for either party to run away when you’ve both committed to getting naked in front of each other.

I’ve now deleted myself off Craigslist and moved onto another, free site to see whether Mr. Right for Now might be lurking there. So far, there seem to be disproportionately more single men that live in Bromley than the rest of the UK. It is not a place to which I would like to visit.

I’ve also decided that there’s no point beating around the bush. If I do want someone with whom to share life’s experiences or even just a glass of wine on a fairly regular basis (which would be good enough for now), I need to let as many people as possible know. And I mean everyone – from my hairdresser to the woman who stamps my post to my friends and casual acquaintances. I’ve seen friends rely on the digital world to deliver a partner and waste hours or even years of their life. Surely amongst my five hundred or so Facebook friends there has to be one who knows someone with whom I might be compatible.

So, there you have it. It has been three weeks since my quest began and I’ve had two dates, one shag and written about 85 emails (most no longer than a sentence or two). It’s still very early days and I’m still hopeful. Stay tuned for the next installment…

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places: Episode 2


1 Minute Read

Placing a personals ad on Craigslist was always going to be a crapshoot. I knew that. I’d done it before, albeit in my forties, and it had led to some interesting as well as deeply unsatisfying experiences . It had turned up a few guys, for instance, who wanted to take part in a gang-bang in a swanky hotel room. I think they had not expected it to actually happen and I remember one guy, a notch above 30, who got carried away, saying “Suck that, bitch” as if he was the lead in a porn film. I had to tell him, in my very best Mary Poppin’s voice, to “be very quiet.” There was another man who took me to a lovely dinner at the Soho House Hotel and turned out to have a wandering eye, literally. He had one eye that just kept zooming off, in all directions. It was very disconcerting.

The first few emails I received in response to my latest ad were not terribly encouraging. There were two or three from men who had obviously not read my ad asking for someone my own age and were chancing it. One, a mere 27, sent me a picture of his lean, headless torso, just stopping at his unbranded underwear.

Craigslist Boy

There was another who spelled out something completely unintelligible using text message speak, always a worrying sign:

hi i saw ur ad on cl,,,i live in kilburn station jubile line,,183cm tall slim,43 years old. xxxxxxxx u can cal or find me on whatsapp

There was the man who was intrigued by my beauty, having not yet seen my picture and was a strong believer in quantum physics. Quite a few lived very far outside London, even though I had made it clear I was not a woman who wanted to travel far.

Frank (not his real name) was perplexed as to what I meant by ‘having tried swiping right and left.’ When I wrote back and said it referred to Tinder, he replied saying, “… it does frighten me a bit when I hear that a woman has been trawling places like Tinder.…I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I was sleeping with someone who was having multiple sex partners.” This being craigslist, a place frequented by men seeking sex for hire, I think the irony must have been lost on him. I, on the other hand, had not been laid in six months.

And then there was an older man, a philanthropist and former CEO, who invited me to his private member’s club for dinner, only to tell me 30 emails later, that he was married. Why he couldn’t have made that clear to me 29 emails earlier, is anyone’s guess. I had just about forgotten how many time wasters there are in online dating land when he dropped into my life to remind me.

Amongst the debris, however, a few possible gold nuggets have stood out. The banker, for example. At 42 still a bit too young, but within walking distance, handsome and someone with whom I might unwind over a drink nearby. He has potential.

A designer with his own small agency who likes jazz and lives in North London, on a tube line just on the edge of Zones 2/3 , seems interesting too.

A couple of dates have been put in the diary and I’m open to the possibilities. Watch this space.

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