"Do you prefer giving or receiving?"
This is a question I was first asked in primary school, by a small boy with an awful haircut and a smirk on his face (That first pot of hair-gel made us all feel so much older than our years, but at eight we just didn't have the carefully sculpted stubble or the desirable, industry-standard skeletal facial features required to look like the guy from the Shockwaves advert, and the family photos never let us forget it).
Now, despite the Agyness Deyn quiff, this was a boy whose questions were to be answered both seriously and swiftly, if you wished to avoid a beating. And I did. I remember it clearly even now, hastily weighing up the pros and cons of each answer whilst two cronies (we'll call them Crabbe and Goyle for anecdotal sakes) stood either side of He Who Shall Not Be Named For Libellous Reasons, cracking their knuckles (on the ground). I eventually reasoned that by answering 'receiving', I'd more or less be inviting a sharp kick to the shins and then told, through gormless laughter, that I 'asked for it'; And so I went with 'giving', optimistic in the hope that this was the lesser of two evils. By no means did I think that I'd be escaping unscathed - but I wasn't prepared to give them the satisfaction of declaring myself a willing recipient of physical abuse. I just wasn't. And so what happened next was quite a shock...
The three of them just burst out laughing. They laughed and laughed and then walked off, guffawing still.
Initially I was too thrilled to feel like the butt of a joke, it was only later as I imagined volleying He Who Shall Not Be Named For Libellous Reasons in the head, that I began to wonder what exactly the joke was. I was too young to understand the concept of oral/anal/nasal/any sex and any relation that the 'giving' or 'receiving' of such an act may have towards being humorous. To be honest I'm still at a loss to understand quite why they found it that funny, I doubt they barely understood it themselves. I have since concluded that the three of them must just have been a bit simple and probably still look back on it as a great joke even now, more than a decade later; And I don't begrudge them that, quite the opposite in-fact. Everyone needs at least one fond memory to look back on when they're up in front of a magistrate or sat in solitary confinement and I pray to god that this is the one that comes to mind for them. And I pray even more so that the irony isn't lost on them, when they're 'giving' and 'receiving' for 5 cigarettes apiece in Her Majesty's Prison Service.
Later that very same day, Crabbe (or Goyle - I forget) approached me with two different, yet equally deplorable fellows and asked me the very same question. I remember thinking 'as if I'm going to fall for this again, just run!', or I wanted to think that. What I actually thought was 'as if I'm going to fa..' and then I tailed off as my brain heard a part of me that definitely wasn't my brain, answer 'receiving'. Before my raised eyebrows even had a chance to brace themselves, I did indeed find myself on the 'receiving' end a swift thump in the stomach.
I consider this to have been a valuable lesson, and I lost enough lunch money to them to convince myself that they were just my private tutors. They taught me early on in life that 'giving' is always going to be the lesser of two evils, is going to make myself, and others, happy. That there's just too much strife to take from 'receiving' (something I'm sure the many guests of HMPS can testify too).
In my next piece, I discuss how I learnt that the capital of Thailand is indeed Bangkok...