Have you noticed how something deemed ordinary in one century is seen as exotic in another? Here we have a tale of the ordinary Victorian corset turned on its head by twenty-first century Young Things!
So there I was, having always believed that whale-bone looked better in a whale, struggling home from the local shop of ill-repute, a bag of corsetry under one arm. Embarrassing doesn’t begin to cover it! I was little more than a child, in my early twenties, and had been unable to resist the hilarious lure of the sex shop that had suddenly sprung up in the town in which I was then living. Besides, my boy-friend, with whom I had a wonderfully humorous and variegated under-the-duvet life, had suggested, one gin-soaked evening, that a corset would be great fun to try out.
Always game for a laugh, and roused by the sheer naughtiness of the whole endeavour, I put foot to asphalt (this being the days before I could drive) and, slinking nippily into the aforesaid emporium, had a good old gander at the merchandise.
Well! My gob was immediately smacked by the diversity, the neon colours, the out-and-proud nature of the whole place. I have never seen so many dildos in my life! There were butterfly-shaped objects which looked as if they could be jolly useful when it came to cutting pastry. There were handcuffs and whips and chocolate genitalia – and costumes, a pleasing plethora of clothes for the soon-to-be-unclothed!
Like the proverbial excited child in a sweet shop, eyes bigger than Gobstoppers, I wanted it all, NOW!
Twenty heavenly minutes later, I emerged, my purchase duly wrapped in the obligatory plain brown paper, and made my way back to the flat. My expectation was that I’d be into the corset and duvet-diving within two squeaks of a greased weasel’s ball sack. After all, I’d been getting dressed (and undressed) for over twenty years, hadn’t I? What could possibly be difficult about that?
Ripping open the package, and letting my laughter ring un-stifled around the room, I took the thing out – and turned it over in my hands. The first doubt assailed me. It looked well-nigh impregnable, like trying to climb into a castle with archers dense along the battlements and boiling oil a very real next experience. The picture provided was unhelpful in the extreme – and it looked as if I’d need to call upon the local Tug-of-War team in order to get the laces tight enough.
It also looked, if I may be so vulgar, as if the devoutly-desired wasp waist (which all Victorian women aspired to) would cause my baps to burst their moorings and end up perched on my shoulders. I dreaded to think what the pinching in would do to my internal organs – and confidently expected them to join me and my lover on the bed shortly.
But, I was young, lithe, adventurous and, prepared to try anything once (even Morris Dancing), unfurled the accursed garment and looked at the instructions. Frankly, I have seen more sense on the pre-translated Rosetta Stone. These words of wisdom – which gave every appearance of having been written in Braille for a double upper limb amputee – availed me not. Twisting and turning every which way, like a pig in a burlap sack, I grunted and groaned most unattractively, rivers of sweat pouring down my body, as I tried to squirm into tart gear.
I could’ve done with a gallon of engine oil and a can of WD40 quite honestly, that or a catapult. Boyfriend did suggest getting the slab of lard from the kitchen, but I felt that the smell would probably affect his prowess.
Eventually, finally, I was in. Breathing appeared to be an optional extra. I was convinced that I could feel my spleen inching its way up my throat – and was terrified that the man in my life might meet my descending liver when Rivet A finally met Hole B (if it ever did!).
Here we encountered an unexpected problem. The Man was sprawled on the bed, guffawing so much that he was in imminent danger of a hernia; laughing, in fact, so hysterically that he was a spent force when it came to the dreaded laces. I had vile visions of my having to do the job with my teeth and ending up toothless at the end of it all.
Fortunately, a stern word (along the lines that he wouldn’t even be getting to First Base if he didn’t get me into the bloody corset) did the trick – and, bracing himself, hands on the laces as if I were a wild horse, he pulled for dear life.
I looked warily around the room, just to make sure, you understand, that it wasn’t awash with squoze-out abdominal organs – and, reassured, if somewhat light-headed, turned to look at myself in the cracked mirror.
The Man’s stertorous breathing and whimpered, ‘Cor!’ told me all I needed to know and, with an exultant, ‘Chocks Away!’ he leaped upon me.
As Fanny Hill is rumoured to have said, ‘There’s always room for another trollop!’
We had a whale(bone) of a time!