A COMIC/SERIOUS IMMORALITY TALE FOR OUR TIMES (a fantasy if it’s your sort of scene)

The story starts in London over 18 months ago, beginning in March 2017, when Britain was – albeit unaware of the fact – heading towards a General Election. Miss Lulu is a dominatrix with a sharp mind and sharp heels, full of intellectual curiosity and sexual know-how. She meets Rory Smith, a journalist, in a hotel bar in Soho and their relationship begins over a conversation about politics, morals and the world in general. There’s a bit of bondage and a lot of badinage, some sex-related villainy and a nascent love story. It also reflects contemporary politics – Trump, May, Brexit et al. Put another way, this is the story of a strong woman with a stable of admirers. Among these is a young woman called Summer, a person in whom Lulu can see something of her former self and with whom she strikes up an unusual friendship. Love is a Battlefield is an acerbic take on the cocktail that is modern Britain. It’s zeitgeist on the rocks.

LONDON APRIL 2017
Their lunch appointment was at a vaguely fashionable restaurant in Poland Street. Rory arrived to find her already seated at the table.

“Sorry. Am I late?” asked Rory.

“Actually, I’m early,” Lulu replied. “Punctuality is one of my things. Didn’t you get my text? I sent it five minutes ago.”

“No. I’ll get it later. I turned my phone off around then so that I wouldn’t get any tedious calls from work that might have jeopardized meeting you.”

“Well, I’m flattered for that. I just hope you don’t walk out of here to learn you’ve been sacked.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t be. When I said tedious, I meant tedious – not serious.”

He plonked down a copy of the Metro, with the headline story reading ‘Heathrow Sex Slaves Racket’.

“Well,” said Lulu, “they would make a noise, wouldn’t they?”

“What – no sisterly sympathy?”

“I feel very sorry for them. Of course I do. The words just came to mind, that’s all.”

“As something did to me earlier this morning,’ grinned Rory. “It’s plain wrong the girls at that coffee shop have to wander round with ‘Just Roasted’ written on the back of their blouses.”

She laughed.

“Perhaps you could write one of your blogs about that?” she suggested. “I did enjoy your Hammond/Murdoch one, by the way.”

“Thank you. Your text was much appreciated. Yes, maybe I could do that, once I’m done with Donald Trump.”

“What are you doing him for? Mind you, I’m sure there can be no shortage of material.”

“Very true, although actually it’s not just about him. There’s Kim Kardashian as well and her near namesake, Kim Jong-un, the mad leader of North Korea.”

“Intriguing! How’s that?”

“I’m still working on it but you can probably guess the sort of thing. Her huge arse versus him being one; some lunatic with nuclear weapons and a dodgy haircut is a threat to world peace – and so is Kim Jong-un. Like I said, it’s a work in progress, although quite soon it’ll have to be words in the paper and on the website.”

“Trump is so ghastly,” she said. “I hated one time during the campaign when he went on about how much he loved the poorly educated. This was in a speech! And he didn’t mean he felt sympathy for them. He was celebrating their stupidity, I guess cos that meant they’d be more likely to be vote for him.”

“Probably. If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny in that he’s dreadful with words himself. After one of his recent speeches, Hugh Lawrie tweeted if there would now be “a separate news conference for the verbs”?

Lulu giggled. “That‘s excellent. Anyhow, I look forward to reading it. Come on, let’s order. I’m famished.”

Famished didn’t mean she wanted a three-courser. In fact, they both ordered just a main course, lubricated by a couple of glasses apiece of some Californian white that Rory ordered. (It was never mentioned; they both presumed he would be putting the bill on expenses.) The conversation was amiable and, as she knew it would, it meandered around to her lifestyle.

“Seriously,” said Rory, “going back to those girls at Heathrow, trafficking them for sex is appalling.”

“It is. It’s utterly abhorrent. The people who run those cartels are the lowest form of sleazebag. But what some people – men and women, not all of them MPs – who go on about prostitution don’t seem to realise is that it might be a free-choice option for a woman.”

“So you don’t have a high opinion of MPs, then?”

“Does anyone? Look, I’m not a hopeless cynic but I certainly don’t have a high opinion of them on this subject.”

“I noticed the Attorney General weighed in with his say on the matter the other day.”

“Sorry, that doesn’t do it for me either.”

“No, I can see that. I just mentioned it because he’s both a lawyer and a politician.”

“From what I gather, you could say he’s often not much of either.”

“You’re right. You’re not a cynic.”

She grinned. “Come on, Rory, it’s known as the oldest profession for a reason. Selling sex has been going on since long before there were such things as sex slaves. For some girls, selling their bodies is the best career-choice they have. Many women, make that most women, would never do it under any circumstances, and I can totally understand that. But it does piss me off when people try to impose their morals on other people when no one is getting hurt.”

“You think no one gets hurt?”

“You might say that a guy’s wife is hurt if her husband goes with a hooker and she finds out about it. But if he wants to do that, get sex outside his marriage, then he’d likely do it anyway, and it would be my guess that his wife would prefer that if it was going to happen it would be with a woman he won’t be thinking of leaving her for and a woman who will, almost for certain, have taken the appropriate precautions.”

She continued. “You perhaps won’t be surprised to know I think about it more from the girl’s perspective, maybe because I understand it. I’ve been there, done that, got the wet T-shirt along the way. I read that working in a salad-processing factory pays under £200 per week. That’s for a 12-hour day. Many working girls would get that in one hour. OK, so those rates are probably mostly being paid to poor immigrant workers, but the point remains all the same. I don’t know what a counter girl earns at Boots but…well, you know what I’m saying. If you can harden your heart to what you’re doing, the money differential is enormous.”

“I read a newspaper article the other week about some countries having laws that make the purchase of sex illegal, rather than the selling of it.”

“Yes, great isn’t it. Like you could have one without the other. I’d say sex is about as much a two-way deal as you could get.”

“Well, unless it was a threesome.”

She laughed. “That law they have in some places, they call it the Nordic Model, which would usually make you think they were describing some stunning Swedish beauty. The truth is that, as with everything in life, the wealthy would swerve around it. ‘Yes, I did pay her £2,000, but that was just to dance for me. She threw in the fuck for free.’ Only the ordinary punters would be affected.”

“There’s one rule for the rich, and all that?”

“Oh, there’s far more than one rule for the rich. Amnesty International says the best way to protect sex workers is to decriminalise the whole situation. All the Scandinavians have done is to make life less safe for women. The French look like they might do the same. The fact is that a guy isn’t going to want to give a phone number or an email address if he could be traced by the police and prosecuted. People like Harriet Harman are dreadful. She conflates prostitution with trafficking. Whatever that woman believes in, it’s not feminism. She doesn’t believe in the right of a woman to self-determination; to do what she wants with her life.”

She paused for a moment. “I read a novel recently which I thought put it well. It’s by a guy – an American crime writer called Michael Connelly. You know his books?”

“Yes, he’s very good.”

“He is. In this bit, one of his characters – a ‘reformed’ hooker, if you like – says something like ‘some girls talk about wanting to get out of it but they don’t really; they get what they need from it on a lot of levels’. I think that’s right. The money buys you freedom to take a break, to buy nice clothes, to take holidays. The alternative is to take a huge pay cut. And I don’t think any of the do-gooders have come up with a plan that makes that an easy proposition to sell. And they sure as hell haven’t come up with a plan to make up for the cash shortfall.”

“I’m sure there would be some hookers involved in an amazing stat I heard the other day.”

“What’s that?”

“Apparently one of those budget hotel chains in London had an occupancy rate of over 120% in the last financial quarter.”

“What?” She quickly thought it through. “The guy checks in at lunchtime with his woman and checks out again in the afternoon, so the hotel can re-let the room.”

“Exactly.”

“Gosh – I hope they employ enough people in housekeeping!”

They both chuckled and took a sip of wine.

“So,” said Rory, looking and sounding a little awkward, “how does it work, being a dominatrix?”

“It means I’m on top – metaphorically speaking, that is.”

“Obviously, as you will have gathered, I’m just curious. I don’t want it done to me – whatever it is!”

“That wouldn’t happen even if you did.”

He looked curious. “Why not?”

“It wouldn’t work with you as a client now. I’ve met you outside of work and I like you.” She grinned. “At least I quite like you, and I can’t like the men I do business with.”

“Surely you mean do business to?”

She laughed. “OK, a brief lesson. As you’ll have figured, the dominatrix is in control. But, as with what we were saying previously about buying and selling sex, this isn’t a one-way street either. You might be surprised to learn that alpha males make the best subs. That’s submissives, by the way.”

“So they are better than beta males?”

“Very good. Now shut up and listen. Alpha males know what they want. Or they think they do. I am in control but I do as they ask, at least most of the time. It’s no good the guy saying: ‘Tie me up and do what you want.’ There has to be an interactivity, a conversation, between us.”

“What does ‘at least most of the time’ mean?”

“The idea is that I don’t take them to where they want to go; I take them beyond that level. And when they get there, they know that I’m right. I mean, they might not have realised they wanted a spot of infiltration, say, but…hey, they did.”

Rory gave an involuntary shudder. “And this usually involves you beating them with a whip or cane or something like that?”

OK, why not wind him up, but nicely, for a bit of fun?

“It can. But sometimes I let them choose the music we listen to while I’m doing that.”

“The music?”

“Yes. To drown out the noise.”

He looked horrified. “You mean of their screams?”

“No, stupid. The noise of the whip or the cane. Just in case anyone out in the street might overhear if I’m doing it to them other than in my dungeon.”

“Your what?”

“Dungeon. It’s a small room where you keep prisoners.”

“I know full well what a dungeon is. I didn’t know you had prisoners.”

“You’re right. I don’t take any. But in my case the people are there of their own volition. Anyway, if the clients scream, they get something rammed into their mouths to shut them up. Come to think of it, I really should get double-glazing and then it wouldn’t be a problem anyway.”

There was a pause while Rory figured out what question to ask next.

“So if they get off on being punished, what do you do if they do something you don’t like?”

”It depends. I had one client whom I realised after we’d started had set up his mobile to film the action. Well, I’m not having that – he could have edited it and downloaded images of me on to the internet.”

“So what did you do?”

“Well, he obviously got hit a lot harder after that. Mind you, that’s probably what he wanted. And then, while he still had his hands tied behind his back, I wiped the contacts, emails and texts off his phone and told him I was keeping it.”

“And he was OK with that?”

“Completely. I’m sure he’d got all his data backed up on his computer and he could easily afford a new phone.”

“How do you know he could easily afford that?”

“Because being a submissive is an expensive business. I’m a rich man’s toy.”

The waiter came by and they ordered coffee.

“So,” said Rory, “after they’ve been beaten up a bit, do they…er, how do they climax?”

She chuckled. “Another girl I knew in this business styled herself Auntie Climax. Ridiculous, and obviously against the point, but I think she did OK.”

He grinned. “So Miss Lulu isn’t your real name?”

“Haha.” She paused. “Anyhow, by your question, you meant how do clients get their happy ending?”

Rory grinned and nodded.

“It depends. Some of them keep an image of what you have done to them in their mind and replay it over and over again for days or weeks afterwards. At the time, if you’re hitting them really hard, they may be in too much pain to climax. But some of them will ejaculate at the time. That, of course, might depend on whether their hands are free or not.”

“God, there are some weirdos around?”

“You’re right, Rory. They’re called men. They can be weird. Some of them go on a chastity kick.”

“What does that involve? Castration?”

She laughed. “No. Even I don’t go that far. For example, they might wear a device that means that while they’re OK to go for a pee, they can’t masturbate.”

“But can’t they just remove the device and have a wank in peace?”

“No, because it’s secured by a padlock. And the mistress has possession of the key that unlocks it. So he can’t relieve himself in that way until he next sees her and she releases him.”

“That’s beyond weird.”

“Somehow I thought you’d think that. Some won’t go that far but the deal is that they will ring you and ask for permission to masturbate.”

“Jesus. And what do you say?”

“It depends what kind of mood I’m in.”

“But you could say no and they might still go away and beat themselves off.”

“They might, but I doubt it. It’s the feeling of being controlled – it’s what they want. And why bother going through the whole palaver if they were going to ignore me? Besides, strictly between you and me, I don’t care if they do or they don’t. I’ve got their money anyway.”

He gave an almost resigned smile. “Anything else?”

“Oh yes,” she said, almost with gusto. “Then you have ‘slaves’; men who want to be bossed around by a woman. A bit like being told whether they can masturbate or not. Your slave runs errands for you – mundane stuff, often, like going to buy groceries from the shops. Invariably, they’ll forget something, on purpose, so they get told off, or maybe chastised a little bit. By which, of course, I mean physically. Sometimes this might involve someone sending her slave to me, and he’ll come with a list of the things his mistress wants me to do with him. Or to him. It might be to hit him a bit, or say get him to clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush.”

Rory looked incredulous.

“I’m being serious. And remember, in that situation, he’s paying her and he’s paying me. But the thing I perhaps find the weirdest is the financial dominatrix.”

“I thought it all involved money?”

“OK, then, the blackmail dominatrix. I’ve not had anyone ask me to do this – perhaps just as well; the temptation might be too much – but I know of it happening. In one case the guy was a wealthy businessman. He let the dominatrix see his bank statements, though granted he probably had more than one account. And then he gave her his home number and his wife’s mobile. He was paying her not to squeal on him.”

“That is unbelievable and absolutely bonkers.”

“Indeed. But true.”

The waiter appeared with their coffees.

As if emboldened, Rory asked: Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Oh my God! I’m being hit on.”

He smiled. “No. It was just a question. I’m sorry if it offended you.”

“It hasn’t,” she said quickly. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No, not at the moment.” He paused. “My question was more to do with how it would be to have a [he made a two-finger quote mark with his fingers] ‘normal’ relationship when your sex life, or sexual life, was so…how shall I put it?…”

“Unconventional?”

“Yes, that hits the spot.”

“I had a boyfriend. It started a while after I gave up doing personal work, so a few years ago. We split up six months ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

Now there was some asperity in her voice. “No you’re not. And why should you be? You don’t know him, you hardly know me, and even I’m not sorry about it.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.”

She softened a little. “It’s OK. I didn’t need to answer if I didn’t want to. And to answer the question you want to ask but now daren’t, yes, it was because he couldn’t cope with what I do. And after all that time, I thought he should have been able to cope with it.”

She sipped her coffee, realising she had semi-frightened him into silence.

“So what about you?” she asked.

“What about me?”

“You probably know enough about me by now to write my biography but I know nothing about you.”

He paused. “I don’t know. There’s not much to tell about me that makes for an interesting tale – certainly not compared to what you’ve been telling me.”

“For all I know you might be an axe murderer on the quiet.”

He grinned. “To be honest, I think if I was an axe murderer I would do it on the quiet.”

“OK, you can tell me more next time, but…”

“So there will be a next time?”

“For sure. I’d like to meet again if you would.”

“Definitely.”

“But what I was going to say just now was this. There’s a song I love by Bastille – you know, the band?”

He nodded.

“It goes ‘Tell me a piece of your history that you’ve never said out loud.’ So tell me something about yourself that no one else knows.”

“What – so therefore really personal, really private?”

“Precisely.”

“God, I don’t know.”

“Of course you know. There’ll be hundreds of things. I’m asking for one. And in fairness to me, I’ve hardly held back on you, have I? I’ve not ducked a single question you’ve asked.”

“What, so you mean sex-related?”

She grinned. “Not necessarily, but I’d certainly accept the answer if it was.”

“Like what?”

“It’s supposed to be your story. I don’t know. Maybe you used to masturbate while looking at photos of Mrs Thatcher?”

He looked shocked. “That’s gross. How did you come up with that?”

With a faintly exasperated expression, she said: “Just tell me, then.”

He hesitated for about ten seconds. “OK. I guess it would never get back anyway. I once had sex with my best friend’s wife. Just once!”

She smiled knowingly. “It doesn’t sound to me that you’re so committed to your friend and if it was only once then clearly you aren’t committed to her.”

He looked grim. “I know. It’s dreadful. But you made me tell you…something. And it was just the once.”

“I know. And he was your best friend.”

He looked grimmer. “I know. And what’s more, he still is.”

She looked mischievous. “Well, obviously I won’t tell if she hasn’t. Although I’m not entirely sure that story should count for what I asked.”

“What? Why not?”

“I asked you to tell me something that no one else knows. Unless she was asleep throughout, she knows about it.”

He gave a rueful grin and then looked at his watch. “I’m sure you understand I’m not going to dignify that comment with an answer.”

She smiled. “Of course.”

“I don’t want to leave now but I really had better be getting back.”

“I totally understand. There are one or two things I need to whip into shape myself this afternoon.”

He looked shocked. “You mean…”

She smiled. “No, just teasing you again, although since you know what I do I’m a bit shocked that you look so shocked. In fact this afternoon I’m looking at furniture; I’m going to be doing some redecorating at home.”

“Conventional redecorating?”

“Yes. Chairs. For sitting on. How conventional is that? Talking of home, then, would you like to come over sometime and see my etchings? Or rather my equipment?”

He smiled. “As long as you promise not to use any of it on me, that sounds like an offer I can’t refuse.”

“That’s exactly what it is.”

“Great. I’ll text you soon.”

She offered her cheeks in turn and he kissed her goodbye.

THE NEXT UPDATE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 1

This book is available on kindle from Amazon.