Further feculent thoughts from our longanimitic correspondent
1982 looks like being a very busy year and among many New Year resolutions is one not to start sentences ever again with figures. It always looks so ridiculous, don’t you think? It is also ridiculous that the English talk a great deal about the weather but do nothing about it. I am one of those seemingly very few who believe in doing something about it – at least, as far as I am concerned. I dress in leather from head to toe, or I dress in rubber from head to toe when the weather conditions demand. And recently there has been a lot of demanding. These now regular combats with the elements leave me irritated and breathless but usually the victor.
If you were to think that I adopt this determined protection solely in the interests of some psychological sexual quirk you would be wrong. I have since childhood believed that weather affects our health in many more ways than we realise. I don’t think I’m untypical in noting that I get more headaches and more restless and more irritable on windy days. I believe it is now commonly accepted that prior to a thunderstorm most of us get an oppressive, unsettled feeling. Even indoors in large glass walled, open plan, air conditioned office blocks there are many who complain of lethargy, malaise,, strange infections and sudden migraines. I know this is true because I am one of them.
The cause – so I have been reading – is supposed to be atom size particles in the air. Some of these are negatively charged, others positively charged. The theory is that the more negative ions (electrically charged particles) in the atmosphere the better. The purer air in mountains, country and seaside contains most negative ions, while the atmosphere in city streets and offices has relatively few. There are many scientists who believe too many positive ions may cause illnesses like head colds, fatigue and depression, whereas negative ions are supposed to give a sense of well being.
Most of us complain about cold and dampness in our bones, yet there is little evidence that there are fewer arthritics in the Sahara or in Florida. The current medical theory is that shifts up and down in biometric pressure aggravate aches and pains. A grey day makes the spirits low and will make almost any symptom seem worse. That seems to be a statement of the obvious. Cold air contracts the blood vessels – giving so called ‘goose flesh’ which aggravates aches and pains whereas warmth relaxes and soothes. Allowing yourself to get wet and cold disturbs the body rhythm to the point that the protective systems are unable to fight off the nasty little viruses and bacteria that cause colds, ‘flu and even pneumonia. This is why it continues to amaze me why my sex especially seem to take so few adequate precautions and fail to include as essentials in their wardrobes waterproof raincoats, capes, boots, gloves and head covers. In a way I do understand and appreciate how they feel when one sees the ghastly styles and fashions for protective clothing. All women like to look nice and with some of the so called ‘up-to-date’ raincoats (actually c. 1928) how can they?
Surprisingly, very little is known about the precise weather conditions that spark off the different infections. The Public Health Laboratory Service is now studying the weather conditions which spread influenza. Colds circulate all the year round although there is a peak at the beginning of the autumn and another early in the New Year.
One study showed that two days before the onset of a cold, the weather was generally dry and cold. It seems that dry cold places a stress on the body’s own humidifying mechanism and low humidity dries out the nasal passages and prevents the hair-like cilia from sweeping and filtering the foreign invaders effectively. The cold also stimulates increased mucous secretions and so helps to spread colds and other infections when people crowd together on buses, trains and tubes. Those that were better protected, the survey showed, had the better immunity and those who wore boots were better than those who wore shoes.
Fashion has rarely been helpful to health. It has now been proved that mini-skirts were a serious health hazard and increased urinary infections and chilblains whilst thighs became permanently fatter as the body tried to compensate for the cold. The medical experts now say that boots – the higher the better – are vitally important to health. So are hats. During cold weather up to 50% of the body energy provided may be lost through the head. Just like insulating the attic, wearing a hat saves energy. It is also important to protect the ears and it seems that the sou’wester, the circular woollen hat with ear flaps and the coat cowl are very practical.
During the December blizzards one medical authority, speaking on a radio programme, said the best way of protecting the body from a whole range of illnesses was to wear a Balaclava helmet in a waterproof material, and a pair of rubber boots. The doctor went on to say that the boots he recommended should either come over the knee or have a cuff that allowed them to be close to the leg at the top, so retaining the body warmth. He also mentioned that a waterproof raincoat extending well below the knee was strongly recommended and it should have a high collar and cuffs that could be closed at the end of the sleeves.
All sorts of electrical devices and gadgets are now being suggested for improving home comfort in addition to the expected heating. Little devices like negative ionisers, electric humidifiers, and even dehumidifiers are being suggested as essentials for the average home. Yet the more we try to live and work in a controlled environment, the more susceptible we are when we step outdoors. Central heating and air conditioning it seems is reducing the efficiency of our body defensive systems. The doctor proposed to his listeners that they should never emerge into the open air without adequate protection – both warm and weatherproof. I know I have been saying this for about 100 years now, but it is quite gratifying to see that I am at last getting scientific support.
It was while I was reading all that stuff about electrically charged particles that I came across a fascinating article in that excellent little magazine ‘Fulfilment’ edited by Susan Brown and her husband. Susan, like me, is not a devotee of rubber attire but, again like me, is fascinated by the subject. With her and the author’s permission I have paraphrased his piece and publish it here.
Since bondage is not my scene I can’t confirm or reject what has been written. My few bondage experiments did not produce any of the results described, yet the experience of many readers seems to confirm what he says. I have also witnessed some of the effects described and all I can conclude is that just as research is now being conducted into the effects of the weather on the human race, and the need for protection, so there should be more scientific research into the effects of ‘insulation’.
Seven years of regular wear and our SBR raincoats from Rubber Fashions are still very good, and still very waterproof, but we did think – at least, Robert did – that it was time to consider replacing them. It seemed a simple decision but we have discovered that the heavier weight SBR is no longer to be found. Indeed, SBR is disappearing. The samples from Rubber Fashions and Sealwear, although excellent, are not nearly as thick as our previous coats. The rubber coating is not shiny and seems very thin. We are assured that this lighter weight SBR makes up beautifully but, having become accustomed to the protective strength of our present coats, we rather feel that anything lighter and thinner is not going to stand up to the rugged requirements of the great sylvan outdoors.
So your investigative columnist got in touch with a firm that makes SBR and was told that a prohibition has been placed on an essential chemical used in the finishing. The chemical was now considered to be toxic and a substitute was being sought.
Now my next question: if there is to be no SBR, what will readers wear outdoors in the country if they don’t wish to get wet and cold? The curious answer I was given is that there are new rubber backed materials including one called ‘Barbour’. Barbour is made in the north of England by a firm who have given their name to a wool cloth backed material that has a waxy feel reminiscent of the antique oilskins. It is a kind of third generation Gannex (if I am allowed to mention that trade name in these non-political articles) and gather it found favour with all who work in the Great Outdoors, and also with members of our Armed Forces and the Police. Barbour’s advantage is that as well as being completely waterproof and warm, it will breathe. It is also very durable and any damage can easily be repaired by simply rubbing in a waxy material that will be supplied by the maker, or apparently you can even use ordinary wax like an old candle end. I have tried on one of the Barbour coats but they are, for me, too heavy. I am looking for something lighter and more protective.
Robert and I are now rather of the opinion that we shall have to take great care of our present coats and once they are worn out, we shall simply have to stay indoors or else stick to our leatherwear.
John Sutcliffe has suggested one solution. He has obtained a sample coat from J.S. Moden of Germany in a grey rubber that has been impregnated on to a light weight synthetic (I guess it to be nylon). It is rubber both sides but the coats have been so well made with a shoulder and back lining that I think any man would look smart in one. So far though I have not seen anything made for the ladies in this new rubber material (well, new to me).
He has also told us that there may be soon a new SBR made by using a new process that avoids the use of the toxic chemical now outlawed under the new requirements of industrial safety. This new, tough, waterproof SBR has, he tells us, one disadvantage that it is slightly sticky. But so is Barbour. Perhaps they are the same? Robert and I are withholding our orders until we see samples.
Our present SBR coats are both made with detachable cowls as you will have seen in pictures published in previous issues. The cowl certainly keeps the head nice and dry when the rain is driving down, and warm in the snow, but, if you face into the wind, all have the same drawback – they are blown back off the head. If you try and hold them in place with one hand, the rain then runs down your sleeve. I resolved the problem with quite a neat little idea. I fitted an SBR strap about an inch wide to the inside of the cowl, and made three little button holes to fit a small button sewn to the opposite inside of the cowl. This makes it an adjustable chinstrap. It holds the cowl in place and is easily buttoned away inside the cowl when not in use.
I shall claim no royalties for my little invention which proved its worth during a recent blizzard. I am surprised though that the idea has not been thought of before.
I was sent a catalogue by a reader filled with wild pictures of ladies dressed up for the bedroom and boudoir. The accompanying text gave oddly veiled hints of sexual arousal and seduction symptomatic with wearing these garments. Few of the styles appeal to me, most seem likely to cause hypothermia, and many were woefully designed for the purposes of conjunction, it being likely that he would entrap himself in folds of filmy material at the crucial moment.
What I want to know is the rationale that makes it possible for a catalogue of lingerie – some of it in a shiny black satin that looks like latex – to be openly and widely advertised in the national press who firmly set their face against any advertising for Atomage? Ain’t life/sex funny!
Robert has collected two books from his Book Club. The first book written by Irving Wallace and other authors is “The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People” – a catalogue of sexual aberrations that makes those with ‘dressing for pleasure’ interests seem so totally acceptable and normal as to be almost tedious and boring. The second book is “Oriental Erotic Art” by Phillip Rawson. The illustrations are truly splendid, sexually and anatomically, and leave nothing to the imagination. The Orientals certainly knew all about ‘dressing for pleasure’. The only difference seems to have been the materials.
How does one define the difference? Some say erotica is simply high class pornography, but erotica involves mutuality and reciprocity. Pornography seems to involve sexual stimulation of dominance and violence, with little artistic merit.
It is curious, too, that while most of my sex will admire the skill of the erotic artist, few are likely to be excited by the pictures to the point where they experience disturbing sexual urges and wish to rush to the bedroom. Few of my sex respond to visual stimuli whether it be statues, a Brahmin temple or the cover of Atomage. That being so, why do some women consider Atomage offensive yet would be almost indifferent to the display of this book on oriental art in the home? As I say, isn’t life/sex funny!
1982 will see the completion of my book. Well, actually, I am half way through it. I have been threatening to do this book for some time, and keep talking myself out of it. Think of all that work, I keep saying to myself; all that typing and, in the end, no one would appreciate it or probably even read it. My inspiration to undertake the daunting task came first from an irritation that all the literature that relates to this subject is either obscure or evasive or so prurient or badly written it is simply dismissed as pornography. I believe there is an urgent need for an honest book. The second inspirational nudge came from seeing and even reading some of the sexual writings of members of my sex. Miss de Jong who wrote ‘Fear of Flying’ became a dollar millionairess from just one book which I considered to be not only deficient in literary quality but also in sexual honesty. Even more surprising is a paperback book that has been among the top twenty best selling paperbacks in the world for eighteen months. I am referring to a paperback ‘Delta of Venus – Erotica’ by Anais Nin. Erotica it most certainly is, literature it most certainly isn’t. I don’t even believe that Anais Nin was a woman.
The book I am trying to write I believe is different. It is different in style, different in approach, and although basically it is about Dressing for Pleasure it is intended to be about sexual freedom – the emancipation of woman from sexual slavery, and her coming into ownership and control of her own body.
I have discovered that in the privacy of writing you can make your own value judgements. It would, though, be foolish and self-deceiving to believe that those who read your words would accept your intentions or admire your honesty. The conventions of criticism make it very difficult to treat with truth, and, in writing a love story, style, dialogue, discretion and decency is expected. Yet love is about sex, and sex is the fundamental human force. If your subject is love then you are writing erotica and almost all romantic fiction is not only dishonest in avoiding truthful accounts of penile intromission but is preventing women especially learning about themselves and their bodies. It is not surprising that women regard with distaste fiction that savours of sexual deviation, sexual aberrations or fetishism for most romantic fiction even ignores natural intercourse.
If women are to be free from the tyranny of the romantic male with his concept of love and marriage then we should examine literature (and, I suppose, fashion) carefully and critically. It is not my intention to start a new school of romantic fiction but I do believe there is room for one really honest book and I hope this is going to be it.
The book should be ready in the late Summer 1982 and I also hope to sell it first to Atomage readers at the price of £5.00. More news and hopefully full details (and perhaps an extract) in Atomage No. 5.
Most of my commercial life is spent typing incredibly boring copy on electrical matters. Over the years I have developed a technique whereby my mind more or less switches off while my fingers are merrily dancing over the keys. Imagine my surprise the other day when I suddenly awoke in the middle of a long screed to discover I had typed the following: thigh boots shall be of black rubber with long skirts, cleated rubber sole and heel, and with rubber outer reinforcing strip across top of toecap and around rear seam of heel. The boots shall be available in the size range 6-12. My first reaction was to think that somehow I had allowed my Atomage copy to get mixed up with my ordinary commercial work and I hastily put my hand out for the correction fluid before anyone should spot it. I pedalled back on the tape recorder to find out what it should be, but, no, I had typed exactly what had been dictated. This interesting piece appeared in the Central Electricity Generating Board’s Safety Standard 061 501 p. 2 Section 3 Col. 4. If you don’t believe me go and look it up.
What I now want to know is what are thigh boots with long skirts. Does that mean you can wear them with long skirts? How do I go about getting a pair, size 4?