I first viewed pornography at the age of 12, when a school friend showed me a magazine called, I think, Razzle. The centrefold was a naked lady with what appeared to be a large and potentially ferocious rodent between her legs — a coypu, perhaps, or a capybara. I had never seen anything like that before. ‘Look at that flunge!’ my friend enthused. I had never heard the word before, either — I think it was a kind of portmanteau of ‘clunge’ and ‘flange’, both words with which I was familiar. ‘I bet your gimmer hasn’t got one like that,’ he added, spitefully. Gimmer is rural Teesside slang for a girlfriend — derived, I think, from the Scottish word for a young female sheep.
I had a sort of girlfriend at the time and I fervently hoped she didn’t have a snarling coypu up her skirt, or, if she did, then would be minded to keep it to herself. The porno-graphy left me a bit cold, and thus worried me briefly that maybe I was gay, as my friend would not have put it. I thought the photograph hideous and rather menacing. I feel the same about porn today — the stuff I’ve seen, out of curiosity or by chance — a roommate had a stash of what he called ‘tug mags’ which he left lying around the house — seems to me every bit as vile and degrading as the feminists insist. There is malice and subjugation in it, a coarseness and a cheapness, and you get the feeling, too, that it is more about power and violence than sex. Given the vices I do have, it is rather gratifying to take, on this occasion, the moral high ground. But each to their own, I suppose.
The roommate I mentioned earlier would sometimes lock his door and when I tried to come in would shout: ‘Go away.