Lost Weekend

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I spent Monday in London. It was an over-nighter. The trip was planned around a concert by Ezra Furman who was doing a short UK tour. I came across him about a year ago on the Jools Holland show (BBC 2).

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There was something a bit whacky about him but his sound resonated. And he tells stories. I went out and bought all of his CDs. And this was my opportunity to see him and feel the sound in the flesh. It was an incredible feel-the-flesh sound!!! The trip I talked about was a £20 ticket + £520 expenses. How’s that for fan commitment?

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I arrived in London at midday and went straight to my hotel, which was in the heart of Soho. I don’t mean sort of in the heart I mean really in the fucking heart!!!!!. I was too early to check in but I was able to leave my luggage. Then I headed to a walkup, to a girl who I have visited before. We’d got off to a good start on that occasion because I had been able to romance her in Romanian. She did the pleased to see you thing, pleased to see my money too, I don’t doubt. I bought half an hour of her time. She’s like a girlfriend but we are one small step off true ‘real girlfriend status’. I encouraged her to lie down and relax and then set about setting her body on fire. Afterwards I counted (what I had done): I took her through 12 step changes, each one more intense than the one before. Afterwards, as we were dressing she said, “You’re amazing.” She sort of blurted it out. It wasn’t related to any conversation that we had been having. It was like it just escaped from her thoughts. I could see that she regretted saying it, probably because I might misinterpret the sentiment. She was referring to what I’d done to her and how I’d done it (it wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy). People ask me if I’m addicted to sex (because I visit prostitutes); I’m not. But I think that I might be a little bit addicted to giving young women orgasms (especially of the unexpected kind). However, there are no obvious ‘harms’ which are associated with true addiction.

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When I left her I headed for Camden Market (the photo composite is made from Google images), which was about ten minutes away on The Northern Line. Despite being a Monday, the place was heaving with tourists. There’s clothes and food and clothes and food and clothes and food, and there’s other stuff (lots of it). I was there looking for a replacement shoulder bag. I started using them when I was visiting Egypt frequently. They have several compartments and one is exactly right for carrying the notebook sized laptop that I travel with. One of the zips (on the money compartment) is faulty and so I need a replacement. No luck. And this isn’t the first market that I’ve checked out. I was hungry so I bought a Thai takeaway. Two mouthfuls told me that it was a bad move. Spices and garlic. I threw it away and bought an ice cream, a combination of stracciatella and lemon sorbet; maybe it would go some way to neutralising the garlic. The guy serving me was clearly disappointed that I only wanted two flavours.

I headed back to Camden tube station as I ate it, en route to the next walk up. I figured that would choose another girl who I was familiar with and take an hour of her time so that we could have easy, lazy sex and I could enjoy her company. Hers was a top floor flat. When the door opened I was face to face with a girl I know, but not the one I’d come to see. Is she on my ‘must-see’ list when I am in Soho? No. But I went in anyway. She’s expensive and I didn’t particularly want to be there (she’s pretty and sexy but just not my type). However, as soon as we settled down she set about it in romantic mode. I immediately traded up and extended the time to half an hour. I repeated my earlier performance and got the same result. It would be fair to say that when I’d finished she looked a little bit damaged, like she wasn’t sure what had happened to her.

“Can you take me straight away?”

She could. And she did.I meant put my cock in the hole between her legs. And she had another mini-meltdown, just before I had my own.

“Are you OK?”

She was referring to the fact that I was having my own in-shock moment.

“Just give me a minute.”

“It’s OK, there’s no hurry.”

Well, after that I had to take time out. I went back to my hotel which was situated very close to the action and rested up for an hour. Then I headed to a rendez vous with a film director acquaintance. I’d had a part in a film which he had directed back in February. It was on location in London. It was my acting debut. The meeting was to discuss the possibility of appearing in his current project. We went over to Bill’s on Brewer Street and had a leisurely evening meal. It was clear that the waiter thought we were an intrusion and he stuffed us into a corner. I get used to it. Somehow we managed to spin it out until it was time for me to set off for the Furman concert. It was at The Roundhouse at Chalk Farm.

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I believe that The Roundhouse was built in the 1840s. It was a train repair workshop. It’s iconic. The standing capacity is 3000, which means that it’s pretty intimate wherever you are situated in the audience. I situated at the back in the centre, looking at the stage over the mixing desk, so that I could make an easy escape just before the encore; I wasn’t keen on fighting 3000 other people for a place on the tube train back into the centre.

There were a few other people who had the same idea but it was very manageable. I found myself in a compartment with two guys in their thirties, two girls aged 18 – 20 and a young woman aged 25. Obviously, I’m guessing all this. The guys had been at the concert too and one, the one with ginger hair and a hipster beard, was wired. He hit on all three girls with a steady stream of bullshit. They batted his bullshit aside. Confidently and easily. I wondered if he would have traded his bullshit for my Soho experience today.

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Back at Tottenham Court road I went along Oxford Street, took a left into Soho Square, and headed for a strip club. I’d not been to it for nearly a year but I was hopeful that one or two girls who I knew would be there. They weren’t. It was grim. There were maybe a dozen girls and a dozen customers. And there was just one girl who was my type. She was my type of black African: slim, bright, beautiful, British, natural breasts, and the best bum in the bar. Like the other girls I get to talk to she was an easy conversationalist. Her reward, after ten minutes or so, was to dance for me twice. Wearing a bikini she was delicious. Stripped she was exotic, erotic and delicious. I spent the time fantasising about how it would go if I could get her into the same situation as the two girls I’d seen during the afternoon. The music stopped. We said our goodbyes and thank you’s and I left the club. Long day. Excited and sated. And ready for sleep.

The next morning I went to Muriel’s Kitchen on Old Compton Street for a disappointing breakfast then went to The National Portrait Gallery. They had an exhibition of 19th C photos of ‘black people’ that I wanted to see. By the time I’d finished I was in the mood for another walk up visit. I decided to check out a new girl, one new to me that is. She was operating out of the room that had been first on my list yesterday. Again, she was attractive but not my type. Nevertheless, I stayed for half an hour. It was a re-run of yesterday.

“Where did you learn to do this?”

Well, I did my apprenticeship in Amsterdam and honed my skills between there and Soho. If only I could box it and sell it.

How was it for me? Pretty good. Because of my exploits yesterday I was able to last longer and when I came it was the life-threatening kind. Fuck. In a couple of days I’m going to be in Amsterdam. Too much of this and I’m maybe looking at hospital.

When I got home, about three hours later, I caught up with stuff. The next day,Wednesday, was a day of rest although I spent a good deal of it getting ready for the flight on Thursday. It takes me longer to haul my stuff together and get packed than you might imagine. I travel fairly light but there is still a good bagful. Is the phone charged? Is the laptop charged? Is the camera charged? Then there are various customised toiletries and ironing a few shirts and documentation and so on and so on. I mean, I didn’t spend every minute of the day on it but it dominated the day. By early evening it was all ready to go. Then I logged on and did a final email check. That’s when I hit trouble. One of the mails was from my travel agent. Urgent! Call us! It appeared that KLM had cancelled my flight for the following morning, citing technical reasons. The travel agent advised that I had been rebooked onto the same flight but the following day. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work. I was going to Amsterdam to give a talk to fifty American students who were there on a study visit. And my revised schedule would have me arriving at Schipol about the time that I was due to be wrapping up the talk.

The travel agent advised me to call KLM and see if I could arrange a more convenient time to travel. After a twenty-minute wait I got to speak to an adviser. She rearranged my outbound flight and said that she would mail me the eTicket. Unfortunately, she couldn’t deal with the return flight. She would have to send a mail to the ‘back office’.

By the next morning (the day of the flight) I still hadn’t received any confirmations so I called KLM again. I got a similar story and was assured that the eTicket would be mailed to me. It wasn’t. So a couple of hours later, with the clock ticking down I phoned again (this is costing me a fortune). This time I got to talk to a guy who arranged the second part of the journey (it had been cancelled), mail me the eTickets and explain that the other operators had been mailing my travel agent not me. Not good. To be honest, my experience with KLM has not been good. I’ve made six trips to Amsterdam in the last eighteen months and all but one had major complications, including long delays, cancelled flights and being bounced off flights because they have been overbooked.

Well, here I am in departure typing this up. If it goes to plan I will be in Amsterdam around 8.00 pm (instead of 1.00 pm). Luckily, this isn’t too much of a problem. I’m not going there to see girls and I hadn’t made an appointment to see anyone but if this was an in-out visit over twenty-four hours it would have been ruined.

Actually, I’m in the WiFi area sitting next to a fat cunt who clearly has a cough problem. I’m hoping that it’s a physical thing rather than something he is trying to share with the rest of us.

When we got underway the flight was twenty-five minutes quicker than the normal time. However, we spent almost as much time taxiing at each end as we’d spent in the air. I sat beside a couple who were taking a long weekend and we talked about Brexit. They asked why I was visiting Amsterdam and I couldn’t resist telling them that I was giving a talk to students. I always tell people that the theme is moral politics. They understand the words but not the concept. The conversation starts and ends there. But I get to brag a bit.

It looks like Schipol has undergone its facelift. Over the past couple of years it has been undergoing remodelling and large areas have been closed. Access to Arrivals has changed. The usual route had been blocked and passengers had to walk through the main concourse to get to it. They have made it a bit more user friendly. In the past passengers have surged into the hall and formed queues as best they could. Now there are roped walkways which force much more orderly queues. I found myself standing behind a striking black woman. She was super-slim and could have been anything from 25 – 35. She wore a black Guy Falwke’s style hat under which she wore black Guy Fawke’s style hair. She wore a very tight, tailored black coat, black stockings and black, Puritan shoes with three inch heels. It was a sort of Matthew Hopkins look.

It wasn’t long before she started complaining about the slow progress of the queue. There were three officers on duty. Two were serving one queue and the third was dedicated to ours. She concluded that two was better than one and swapped queues. As I exited Customs she was still in a queue with eighteen people in front of her. It was an excellent exercise in queueing theory.

Ten minutes later I saw her a few yards along the platform as we waited for the 7.59 pm train into Amsterdam. She had buddied up with a Dutch girl. When we left the train I found myself directly behind her as we reached the top of the escalators. At the bottom our world’s, having briefly collided, divided.

I checked into the hotel, The Ibis, as quickly as possible, dumped my stuff, and headed for The Krasnapolsky where I had a leisurely dinner. It was after 10.30 when I left. When I came to pay I realised that I’d left the hotel with only English money in my wallet. Luckily I had a credit card. I paid and left the hotel with a view to doing a window count. By my reckoning, 127 were occupied. If we add in 10% for closed curtains there appeared to be around 139 women working, which is up on what I was used to recording a couple of years ago, despite window closures.

There were maybe a couple of women who I might have been interested in if I’d not been sated after my Monday visit to Soho and the wine and meal that I’d just had. That’s not good. I went back to the hotel, changed into window clothes and headed for the Singel. I’d decided that I’d spend half an hour with a girl if one took my fancy. None did. The options were worse than bad. The women looked rough. I counted 34 open windows, so maybe 37 were active. Then it was back to the hotel (seriously tired) and a rough night. I slept intermittently. My room is over some of the track of Central Station so I got to hear any trains that were running. It wasn’t too intrusive but it’s not the best location I’ve had. Having said that I do have a very interesting view across the estuary from my bedroom window.

I got up at eight o’clock. I had a sore throat. I wasn’t sure if it was the result of the smoke-cannabis atmosphere or fat-cunt and his coughing. I went for breakfast at Exki at the back end of the station concourse, overlooking the estuary. It set me back 12 euros. Usually, my hotels of choice are The Krasnapolsky or The Barbizon Palace where I graze at what are quite generous buffet breakfasts but they were out of my price range this time. This was a work, not a leisure, visit. After breakfast it was back to the hotel and a wait before heading over to Café Heffer for the talk. On these occasions I feel like an athlete who wants to just get on with it and get his feet into the starting blocks.

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The talk was in The Heffer’s dungeon. The group was already assembled in a long room deep below the street. My thoughts are always about whether or not they are pleased to see me. I have no idea if my visits are something they look forward to, are indifferent about or hostile towards. Maybe they make a difference. Maybe they make no difference at all. I guess that statistically I could reckon on a bit of each.

How did the talk go? It was OK, I guess. If you ignore the difficulties with the laptop and Internet connection, the poor quality of the image on the projector screen, the fact that the room was narrow and long so that half the audience was a long way away, the fact that I had developed a sore throat overnight (that cunt at the airport, I bet) and the fact that I seriously misjudged the timing and couldn’t answer some of the questions (to my satisfaction). At least I remembered most of the talk, which I do without notes, but was disappointed that I’d forgotten my carefully rehearsed jokes about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. Shit! These opportunities only come along once! Having said that, the audience laughed where they were supposed to, which is an indicator of sorts. I also managed to get a fix on their probable politics and an indication of where they might be coming from regarding the prostitution issue. My guess is that the Trump/Clinton vote in that room was 50:50. It is only a guess, though. I got the timing  wrong because I went for a soft intro and that needed to be at a leisurely pace. I intended to make some comments about the notion that prostitution is ‘violence against women’ and use a visual (I am putting images of violence in front of women who maybe believe that prostitution is violence against women). I agonised (a lot) about putting inflammatory images in front of the audience but decided to do it. Why? Because I believe what I say.

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My comments went like this. Violence against women is violence against women. Violence against prostitutes is violence against prostitutes. Prostitution is the exchange of sex for money. There is nothing intrinsically violent in the prostitute transaction. There is certainly no third party violence. No woman in the world experiences violence as a result of a man visiting a prostitute. To say that prostitution is violence is against women makes as much literal sense as saying that writing notes in the margins of a textbook is violence against authors. Or that taking notes during lectures is armed robber. After all, the notes are theft of words and the pen is, as we all know, mightier than the sword, making it a formidable weapon. Yes, it’s nonsense. It’s just playing with words. But that’s the point. If prostitution was violence against women there would be no need for debates about the Swedish Model. The cops could just hang about outside establishments where prostitution was taking place and arrest guys as they came out and then charge them with violence. They don’t. Because it isn’t. If people want to express their profound disapproval of prostitution by claiming that it is as bad as violence against women, I get that. I understand. But they are speaking metaphorically. They are telling us nothing about prostitution as a social phenomenon. But they are telling us a lot about how they feel about prostitution. It becomes problematic when people in power try to generate support for an argument or have prostitution redefined in law as violence. It’s especially dangerous when the person wielding the power is a self-confessed moralist who gets angry when considering prostitution.

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Because I ran out of time on the presentation I wasn’t able to address the two recommended books as smoothly as I would have liked. I had to cut short Sex & Punishment and that meant that the groundwork for Righteous Mind wasn’t in place. Indeed, it only got reviewed because a member of the audience asked a question about it. I has also been setting the audience up for an orgasm joke but there was no opportunity to trigger it because of the omissions. What would I have said (about Sex & Punishment)? Something like this. Berkowitz gives an astonishing account of sex and punishment. There has been a lot of it. Prior to the birth of Christianity the emphasis was on infidelity. It mainly focused on women and punishments were severe (very severe). With the birth of Christianity it took a new direction. St Paul (in particular), Roman philosophers and a few Roman emperors set the public tone on sex for the next several hundred years. The message was that sex is a distraction from man’s quest to achieve closeness with God. Celibacy gets state approval and is promoted as the most desirable human state. Obviously, not everyone subscribes but it is the establishment view which comes with establishment pressure.

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In the twelfth century there was a step change, a real game changer. The Roman Catholic church introduced marriage as we know it today, and it wasn’t some Disney view of marriage. The aim was to control sex. If you must do it, you do it on our terms, and preferably to make babies, not because you like it. We will give you permission. They had a few tools to help them. First there was the confessional, where people were encouraged to declare their dirty sex secrets. The priests had books detailing sex crimes. These were known as the penitentials. The lists were long and only constrained by the imagination of the people who compiled them. But all was OK; tell us your secrets and we’ll absolve you of the sin. The second tool was the nun. Women were second class citizens but they could gain social status by joining the church. they could enhance that status by coming down hard on women and sex. The third tool was the number of days on which couples could legitimately have sex. The church got this down to about fifty days a year (once a week). Finally, the Roman Catholic church introduced the first brothels in to Europe (with a view to controlling sex). We can’t stop people but we can keep on eye on what they are doing, where, with whom and how often. And make some money in the process. We have been living with the notion that sex is sinful and needs to be controlled for hundreds of years.

Over the last couple of centuries, the focus for sex and punishment has been on prostitution, pornography and homosexuality. The state of affairs isn’t too much different in 2016 to what it was in 1816.

I would have liked to have worked in the Page Act (America 1875) to show how sex is used as a weapon. I also liked to tell the story of The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon Affair, to show the lengths that the morally righteous will go to control sex. But, like I said, I ran out of time. One of the guys asked me to review The Righteous Mind but I think it would have made more sense with the sex-and-church preamble.

After these things I’m in shock – these things demand a lot of concentration. The presentation lasts an hour and then there is an hour of questions. Most concerts don’t last that long (Ezra was on stage for about 90 minutes). I find that recovery is aided by coffee and comfort food, so I headed for The Krasnapolsky and had one of their burgers. Yes MacDonalds would have been cheaper but nowhere near as relaxing.

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Then I went for a walk. And became aware that my sore throat had become seriously painful. Back to the hotel to use the throat spray which is part of my medicine pack. Over to The Nine Streets. Back to the hotel. Over to the red light district where I spent half an hour with a black girl. I was there for a relaxing massage and talk (I was unwinding). Then I walked back to the hotel. Then I walked back to the red light district. Then I walked back to the hotel.  The hotel is really well situated for arrival and departure but it’s a pig when it comes to those necessary trips back to the room to pick stuff up or drop stuff off. By the end of the day it’s my legs that were dropping off. At one point I went to a pharmacy to buy a throat spray rather than hike back to the hotel. When I got outside I set about using it straight away. It was a construction kit, one which omitted any device which could punch a hole in the spray nozzle. I dumped it in a trash bin. It was the easiest waste of ten euros all week. I went back to the hotel to take my medicine.

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That night I ate at The Restaurant De Roode Leeuw, on the Damrak (just off The Dam). It’s the first time I’ve been there. I’ve always thought of it as a steak and chips sort of place but it isn’t. I stopped to check the menu in the window and saw that it included saddle of hare. That sold it. I was parked in a small-table window seat. That suited me because I could watch the world go by. I had lobster bisque, enhanced with scallop and shrimp, then the hare and then a mousse with ice cream. Verdict? Pretty good. The wine, a Valpolicella was very good. I wasted money (12 euros) on a very small glass of dessert wine. It was nice, but not that nice. By the time I was finished the only bed for me was the one in my hotel room. All that walking, and standing, and the brief red light experience had made just about every part of me ache.

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After a slightly better night (throat still sore) I set off for breakfast. It was raining. That wasn’t supposed to happen. To cut though it I made for the Exki again and had coffee and croissant. It wasn’t what I had in mind for breakfast so I went onto the Damrak. Everywhere I fancied eating was full so I went back to Exki. It was OK but the impression that endures is of a staff who have absolutely no interest in their work The customer is something to be endured.

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Then what? Well, I checked out of my room, set up my laptop in the lounge and typed up this diary entry. Around 1.30 pm I set off in search of girl-contact. Do I need it? Of course not. I’m doing it because I am here. However, it’s not as easy maybe you think. I did a few circuits. The number of women working was limited and the number I was interested in was zero. Then I saw a girl I know. The downside? She was sitting on the second step of some stairs eating a take-away. I realised that my throat was no longer sore.

I knocked. She smiled. She put down the meal and let me in.

“So sowwy. No cussommer. Verwee quiet so I eat.”

I get that.

I told her that I wanted half an hour. She brushed her teeth and used mouthwash. I washed my hands then undressed and she lay down. I played with her just like I play with the Soho girls. She let it go only so far.

“You have to stop or you make me come.”

We swapped places and she reciprocated. When playing with me felt like it might get out of hand I suggested that she play cowgirl. She did. And she did it like a girl who knows what she’s doing. And then we did missionary; we stayed like that until I ran out of road. It would be fair to say that when I came it was ‘intense’. All that preparation in Soho earlier in the week had made sure of that.

15.00: I picked up my luggage and went over to Central Station. There was a local train which left at 15.13. It stopped at Schipol at 15.35. During the journey I got to talk to an Irish student who’d been in Amsterdam for three days. He’s studying marketing and appears to have a heavy workload. During our conversation he commented on the face recognition self-check-in at customs. When I reached the luggage scan I was hauled over and all my luggage searched and I was given a pat-down. Actually, it felt like a grope. I’d left some anti-bacteria hand gel in my case. It meant that because of the delay I ended up in a customs’ queue made up of a party of about fifty Chinese. I checked my passport for the self-check-in logo. The check in option had six entry points and one user. Zap! I was through in record time. Sadly, I look exactly like my photo.

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