I bought Time Out yesterday because I’ve been getting back into Martin Amis recently – just started rereading Dead Babies, which is great fun. Amis was mentioned on the cover of TO. Granted, all it said was ‘London’s raunchiest writing selected by Martin Amis [and other authors]’. I knew it wouldn’t be much then, but with the added promise of a bit of raunch, I thought it’d be worth it.
From Amis there are 41 words bigging up Henry Fielding. Which was rather disappointing, I have to say. As for the raunch…
The article is entitled ‘Cunning Linguists’ – pause for belly-laughs – and it promises ‘Time Out’s pick of London’s 30 finest-ever peddlers of smut, filth and depravity’. I’m afraid I got as far as Sebastian Horsley and skimmed the rest.
Is it just me or is there something to be said for subtlety in this world?
Here are a few examples of some of the writing considered by Time Out writer John O’Connell to be worthy of praise:
‘All the time he gorged and slurped on Hugo’s dick, he wanked his own, which swelled into a fat organ dribbling colourless fluid.’
- from A Matter of Life and Sex by Oscar Moore
‘Since my fingers were greased, I worked them into Sarah’s arse and soon she was bucking like an unbroken horse.’
- from Cunt by Stewart Home
‘…to hear a man moan above her as he came, shuddered, shouted out obscenities or religious adjectives, and experience the heat waves coursing from cunt to heart to brain.’
- from Paris Noir by Maxim Jakubowski
(This could be down to my appalling lack of experience, but what, pray, are the religious adjectives that one might shout out during sex? Not nouns or the names of deities, but adjectives. Really, I’m very keen to know.)
OK, so the quotes above are taken out of context and I’ve not read books from which they’re taken and they could be great books, of course they could, but what irks me about all this dick-slurping and arse-greasing is that, on the whole – fnaar - it’s very very very very boring. There’s no artistry to it. I’m talking about the writing here of course – there could be a breath-taking amount of artistry in the actual slurping of the dick or the actual greasing of the arse. But writing about it in such bald, prosaic terms is about as erotic as a knee-trembler in a lorry full of rotting meat. Actually, scratch that – that might just work.
You see, I reckon that this excerpt, from Keats, is actually genuinely erotic:
‘Anon his heart revives: her vespers done;
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees.’
- from The Eve of St Agnes
For me, that is arousing. I am sitting here with the glimmer of genital emboldenment and a palpable ache to read on. Whereas all that balls-out ‘ooh, look at me cunt!’ rubbish just leaves me cold. I find it really tiresome.
Now, speaking of tiresome, we come to Sebastian Horsley.
I would like at this point to officially nominate him as London’s Most Tiresome Man. I’ve encountered people like this before. They’re always going on about fucking babies or raping nuns or wanking over Hitler or smearing shit on dead bodies. And they seem to genuinely believe themselves to be shocking, and they clearly get off on it. They’re addicted to it. They’re shockaholics. But those aren’t gasps they can hear, they’re yawns. For there is nothing more inherently tedious than people whose only desire is to show the world with how incredibly outrageous they are.
Plus, to make matters worse, this Horsley character also prides himself on his pretentiousness. Everything he says reeks of pith. He has bon mots coming out of his top hat. He considers himself a dandy, an artist, a renegade.
‘Living in Soho is like an ongoing orgasm… God created the country, Satan created Soho. It is proof that hell is full and the damned walk the streets. It is a madhouse without walls… Ten years ago, on a good night here you could get your throat cut. Now there’s even a health club in Soho! Can you imagine that? It has really got worse. The air used to be clean and the sex dirty, and now it’s the other way around. The only pocket of resistance is my house... It’s better to be quotable than honest... I say that I injected cocaine into my knob but that was actually heroin... Think of how many boring, blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretion of me.’
If you were with him and he came out with stuff like that, you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself, would you? You’d just have to take off his top hat and be sick in it.
Oh, and he prides himself on his misogyny too. Of course he does, he’s outrageous. Here are a selection of things Sebastian Horsley has said about women:
‘I remember the first time I had sex - I still have the receipt. The girl was alive, as far as I could tell, she was warm and she was better than nothing. She cost me £20.’
‘What I hate with women generally is the intimacy, the invasion of my innermost space, the slow strangulation of my art.’
‘The problem is that the modern woman is a prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods. Teasers are never pleasers; they greedily accept presents to seal a contract and then break it. At least the whore pays the flesh that's haggled for.’
- all of the above quotes from this, his paean to prostitution. (you may find it interesting to contrast that vile, self-centred, self-fellating, barrage of contrived outrageousness with this, written by someone who doesn't appear to hate women, sex or himself.)
And then there’s this from the Time Out article:
‘Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I’m a misogynist. If I want to dislike women I should be allowed to. As it happens I love them. Women to me are privately worshipped and publicly disdained. I just like pissing people off. I like language and it excites me to write violently against the things that I love. Everyone knows it isn’t right to go and chop women’s heads off….’
Horsley is like the six-year-old boy who has just discovered he can get a reaction if he takes down his pants or says ‘fuck’ a lot. There is desperation oozing from him. And of course, he only says these things so that people will respond, and be shocked. But they're not shocked, they're merely repulsed. And bored. But of course that’s enough for Horsley. As he says on his dreary, try-hard blog, ‘The more one is hated, I find, the happier one is.’
Oh, well. Best stop then.
But I will leave the last words to him.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Sebastian Horsley, London’s Most Tiresome Man:
‘Why shouldn’t I be allowed to say stupid, outrageous things? If you don’t like them, you can suck my Nazi cock.’