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Ann Summer's Party Sends Vibrations Through My Village
Sex and Survival: That's Life!
Has the world become cynical?
Now I’m finally convinced I am a dinosaur as far as keeping up with modern trends is concerned. I am no stranger to sex toys, having been married several times and been exposed to most of the vagaries of the human female’s sexual predilections. I knew many, if not most, women these days have at least one stimulating device in the bedside drawer, along with cherry-flavoured “Play” and a large box of tissues, but, until today, I had no idea that this type of exotica had now become as commonplace as Tupperware as far as the promotion and sales is concerned.
It was a dear friend who was on messenger this morning, saying, “It was all rubbish, really.” I wracked my brains, as confessing I had no idea to what she referred would have put me in the electronic dog-house again for some days; with a flash of relief I suddenly remembered she had said she was going to an Ann Summer’s party on yesterday’s date. I vaguely remembered that was the shop she had dragged me into in Chelmsford a couple of years ago, and where she had, indeed, bought “Henry,” a fearsome looking, purple, 10-inch plastic phallus that made my shrunken equipment look like a smoked oyster in comparison. I recall Henry had multi functions that would have the user arrested in more modest times and strapped into a ducking stool, or at least isolated in a chastity belt for the duration of her active sexual life. Henry also had several “modes” (and perhaps moods as well!): he could vibrate normally, or with more vigour; go round and around; he also had another beak-like extension which stimulates another point in the fundament - I’m sure you ladies know what I mean. Guys, that's the "Little man in the boat." I had always rather resented Henry: he seemed to do a much better job in the female orgasm department than I did; and I always thought prolonged (and pronged) use was too much of a stretch, if you get my meaning. But Henry became part of my friend’s life and news of him receded into the background of our lives. Indeed, he seemed to have been good value for money at £40, and certainly saved her husband and myself the necessity in our dotage of having to perform like porno stars.
Once upon a time, maybe 40 years ago, vibrators were a new edition to the satisfaction of the female libido: they were modest affairs then, certainly in most cases not larger than the partner’s equipment; respectably finished in off-white and with a vibratory capability as gentle as the buzzing of a bumble-bee. They only had one function: to vibrate gently and bring the lady in question to a happy and modest conclusion, as she coloured in no little embarrassment. They were hardly ever, unless I am mistaken, used in front of, or in conjunction with, her swain. Ladies kept the details to themselves and bought them discretely through mail order, or from a swinging “friend” in the know.”
But, hey, you’ve come a long way baby!! So have you, the Henry’s of the world. The top-of-the-range vibrators today look more like something that could easily direct traffic, if not actually conquer space! They have several switch positions from road-drill vibration to a rising crescendo that would bring a blue whale to its knees, er, fins, and give it a grin from pole-to-pole. They have extensions for the derriere, a searching curved bit that finds the sweet-spot with the accuracy of an exocet missile. (whatever and wherever that mysterious and elusive erogenous centre may be - the only one I am familiar with is on a cricket-bat). They come in all the colours of the rainbow (and black), with a guarantee of ten years, or two million orgasms, whichever comes first. Some even have “testicles” of rubber which can be squeezed (ouch, careful) and others may even get out of bed and bring the perspiring user a damp flannel and a lighted fag; there seems to be no limit to the ingenuity of the designers.
But a group of strangers gathered in the auld village hall to browse through the season’s new releases of “Henry’s;” select the latest equipment in front of one another and, we presume, pass expert comment, laced with no little humour? Has artificial love become so cynical, cold and pragmatic? (My friend told me a phallus-shaped balloon is used while the women bend down to show some ways to use the latest offerings…help…don‘t turn your back on her is my advice!).
I just can’t imagine a bunch of working class British gents quaffing their pints and comparing plastic vaginas with one another, can you? "Hey, try this one, Marvin, it's got a strobe light and can sing 'Silent Night!'" Even if their mechanical ability had Clinton burning Monica Lewinski’s phone number and rushing to Summers for the latest model, chaps in stiff old Britain wouldn't get excited. Blokes here just aren’t hard-wired like that: we don’t discuss our sex lives generally, much less the ability of our wives in the sack, and if we did own a Japanese doll that inflates to look like Jacqui Smith and likes to watch porno movies with us, well, that’s no one’s business but our own. Thank you very much.
These parties seem to have caught on everywhere. The open bar must help and the fact the ordering is private once the selections have been made. What really dismayed me after I thought about it was my friends disparaging of the merchandise as “A lot of rubbish!” What on earth will catch her attention and titillate her fancy; have her sweet-spot shooting sparks? Henry: sorry, mate, hang your head in shame, you tried, but there’s no satisfying ‘em these days!!
Notes: There never was an “Ann” Summers. The business was begun by Caborn Waterfield, who named the business Ann Summers after his secretary, Annice Summers. The fledgeling company, with just four shops, was bought by the Gold family in 1982 and has been headed by Jacqueline Gold since she became old enough to assume the responsibility, and, we presume, to test the stimulation quotient of the latest vibrator model of the year.
The advent of Tupperwear-style parties actually dates back to 1981 and has been a way to circumnavigate British trade and decency laws which have restricted the actual sex toys, etc., to just a small part of the store’s inventory. No men are allowed!
The success of the Gold’s and Ann Summer has been something of a roller coaster, seeing some shops close while others open. Today (or in 2007) there are around 140 shops in Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Spain (etc). Summers employs more than 7000 female sales personnel and advertises vacancies in Job Centres after a battle with the government. Turnover today is somewhere near 200 million and includes many new lines of intimate clothing.
Among the chain’s woes was the recall of all the models of the best selling vibrator! I heard “Henry” hid under my friend’s bed!