The last time I had sex was in July 2015. I vaguely recall that it was pleasant, a bit boozy and thankfully lacking in any resultant apologies. What I didn’t realise was that that would be it for a bit; possibly forever. The consequent chasm has been, to be honest, not all that great. Occasionally, Saturday night television spews up someone who gives me a slight twinge, but for the most part, the ritual trudge upstairs sees me throwing a nightshirt over a set of flannel pyjamas and reminiscing about the good times when things were a little different.
Sex is all over the shop now. When I was a lad, I remember going into the West End with one of my many surrogate mothers, who coerced me into buying a rude magazine with my pocket money. It would be fair to say that I enjoyed it as best I could, but the guilt that ensued became so extreme, I buried it under a tree in the woods at the bottom of our garden: it’s probably still there now. These days, a quick right swipe affords the end user any manner of earthly delights, but the notion that an element of responsibility, care or, dare I say it, love, should come into it, usually gets laughed out of town. Instant gratification is all the rage, and anyone who gets hurt easily needs to man up (if you will forgive the expression) if they want to survive.
Somewhere around, there exists a revealing documentary about the musician Nick Drake. Called A Skin Too Few, it attempts to articulate the events culminating in his suicide in 1974. From all accounts, it seems he was particularly ill-equipped to cope with the mores of his generation, as an extreme sensitivity to his immediate environs simply became too much to bear. Sex and drugs were on the menu – more so that ever before – but despite wanting to dip his toes into the water, there was no safety net for people like him, and he paid the ultimate price. That wonderful, liberating ideal that defined the children of Haight-Ashbury was the very thing that did for him in a sleepy Warwickshire town, still trying to comprehend the Age of Aquarius.
Sadly, I can relate. As the powers that be continue to extract the heart from our increasingly fractured society, and I watch from the sidelines as some of those I care about gradually become products of it, I begin to wonder if I too have developed a skin too few: if I have reached a point where the zeitgeist no longer speaks for me and I must react accordingly. So tonight – Valentine’s for those who have someone, just another for those who don’t – I shall contemplate the future. Because I used to really like sex, and perhaps I will again one day before my creaking architecture finally crumbles into oblivion.
Maybe the last time? I don’t know.