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"50 Shades of Grey" Comes to an Essex Village

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There is a woman who lives in my village that I see on my daily commute whose smartness of dress and beauty cause me to stop and wonder what life would be like living with her if I make use of one of those parallel universes of life much spoken about by school science teachers and in a recent case, my daughter's clarinet teacher (I suspect in the hope that she would actually practice in one).

Then one of several inevitable truths kick in - the main one being that she is young enough to be my daughter (this age lark really sucks).

Yesterday evening though, I had the first crumb of evidence that she may have a hidden dimension as she sat across the bus from me intently reading a doorstop of a novel. Boredom with reading the "Passenger Instruction" poster next to me caused to me to wonder what she was reading and I tried to steal a glance at the book title. My eyes failed me, owing to a lifetime of small print and self-abuse.

I put my glasses back on pretending I was reading the remainder of the poster and threw a look over to her book.

And there it was.

Bold as brass.

"50 Shades of Grey" by EL James, one of a series of books which have spearheaded the "Mummy porn" genre of literature and led legions of people to search on the internet what a Wartenberg pin wheel is after Barbara Amiel's memorable statement:

"The question of whether it is truly sexually gratifying to have a Wartenberg pin wheel roll over your nipples while handcuffed to a stretcher bar with a bull gag in your mouth is something I hadn't really thought about in my sheltered life."

And to find on the same search that you can purchase one from Amazon for $4.10, a bargain in anyone's language, given that it can be used for neurological and/or sexual purposes.

I saw her immediately in a different light, wondering whether she too had had an encounter with a Wartenberg pin wheel or was planning one in the near future.

I admired her for reading this book so brazenly in public, knowing what the reaction would be from those around her.

There was a series of books in the 1980s published more for their extraordinary titles than for what they contained. Each had been published genuinely but over the years "Frog Raising for beginners", the title that I acquired, fell now into a pit of mild eccentricity than one of actual interest. This was why the series failed. When I read my title in the 1980s, I am sure those around me thought I was returning from Morris Dancing practice to mind my frogs and did not give me a second look.

"50 Shades of Grey" however is different although there is a chance it may contain reference to Morris Dancing. Indeed, there is only a short distance between having one's private parts stimulated by a Wartenberg pin wheel and being hit on the head by an inflated sheep's bladder on the end of a stick. Perhaps EL James could factor this into the next book in the series and call it "50 Shades of White (with bells on)".

I am delighted that the village where I live includes a reader of such a steamy novel. In time, once it has been passed around family and friends and been the subject of the various Book Groups, it will only be a matter of time before the list of clubs and associations in the monthly newsletter which includes the Gardening Society, Musical Appreciation Society and Scouts will be joined by the S&M Association. There would be joint meetings in the village for instance "A Celebration of Knots" featuring Mrs Anastassia Steele and the Scout troupe demonstrating the most effective knots that can be used to tie her to a stretcher bar.

The future is indeed bright for our village. Next time I am on the bus with my neighbour as she continues her S&M studies, I will whip out a copy of "Great Expectations" and give her a wink.