Well, I said. Next time I'll write about sex and see what happens.
And that was about as far as the thought got. I did ponder being serious and giving you advice or maybe even reaching deep down inside myself to reveal some of those desires we all have. Possibly even admit a fantasy to you. I'm not ashamed of this: there is a sexual position I'd like to try. It's nothing very kinky, it's just that maybe one day during sex, I think I'd like to be present.
But then writing that line made me think about how you'd have to search really hard to find any sex in anything I write. This could well be because I write Doctor Who audio dramas and, please, it's a family show. And there's not a huge amount of sex in Radio Times magazine.
Only, even thinking back through my script pile, sex doesn't feature much at all. I do remember a friend complaining that nothing happens in a particular script of mine – ooh, it was called Other Women: I like that title, I must use that again somewhere; oh, look, I just have – and he moaned that it was just people talking or having sex. We'd swapped scripts at that point and his had nothing happening either: just the end of the world, or the universe, or something. I remember alien tentacles. And he was right about Other Women: unless you were interested in the people, they weren't interesting and nothing happened. Similarly, I wasn't interested in his characters so let the world end, or the universe, or something.
Sex isn't interesting. Not in TV or film.
I mean it. Will they/won't they tension is remarkably powerful but once they do/did, it's all over. Certainly the tension, often the series, always the movie.
Equally, if someone takes their clothes off in a film, I don't think you're watching a character any more, I think you're noticing the actor's body. Even if only for a moment. I don't know. It could be a male thing, it could be a me thing.
But Dar Williams said something especially smart once. I haven't been able to find the quote for you so I'll have to paraphrase – and I'll also have to set it up less eloquently. She wrote a tremendously moving and deceptively simple song called When I Was a Boy. I'd quote you the whole thing because it's as intricate and powerful as a poem but the key lines for today are:
I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bikeNotice the 'small boy on her bike'. It's not a mistake. It's another case of a writer using the wrong word and thereby making a far more powerful point. But you need to hear the whole song for that. For now, the story continues.
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, "Get your shirt,"
I said "No way, it's the last time I'm not breaking any law."
Some years after writing this song, Williams was performing it at a festival. I want to say Lilith Fair but I'm not sure. I want to say that it was an all- or a mostly-women event. The Lilith Fair concerts didn't exclude men from the audience, did they? I adore the music from those concerts. Anyway, whatever the festival, this particular gig was at least very much mostly women in the audience and Williams says she thought about taking her top off during that song.
But she didn't.
Because there were cameras.
And here's the thing I think was so smart, so perceptive: she said that cameras are male.
It could be ten years since she said that and I still think about it.
I can't let you out of a story. If I've actually managed to get you into a tale or even into this blog's nattering, the idea of deliberately chucking you out is abhorrent. And I think sex, shown on screen, does exactly that. I suspect that if I looked, I might – might – just possibly be able to find you a dodgy photo on the internet. I know, it's unlikely. But if I ever did manage to do it, you know that posting it here as some kind of an example would change the blog totally. You would see that image before you read a word and this would no longer be about drama or even sex, it would be about Page 3 porn and the like.
Sex increases the ratings but it changes the content and it decreases the drama.
For me, anyway.
But this fascinates me because one reason I write about people instead of the universe ending in tentacle-based peril is sex. Let me pin it down more precisely: I find immense, seismic drama in the instant before sex.
We are all this cauldron of desires and fears and for most of the day we go around hiding both from everyone. We cover ourselves in clothes and an awful lot of pretence. I hesitated over telling you that gag about my favourite sexual position being "present" because for it to work at all, I needed you to believe I could be telling you the truth right up to that word. That was difficult. But then it's supposed to be. Drama is difficult, drama is telling the truth. Not necessarily telling you something real, but telling each of us something true even as we are lying.
And so there we are, wrapped in our clothes and our culture and our neuroses and we are so practiced at it all that it would surely take dynamite to break through to the real us.
Yet there is dynamite. Thank god there's dynamite.
There's a reason I think we use the word naked. It does mean nude but it also, to me, means more than clothes being opened or shed, it means us being opened. Revealing our skin is revealing what's under that skin, what's inside us. It means revealing our desire. Our hope. Fear.
Desire is the dynamite. Wanting someone in a way that's more like your very body and soul yearning than it is your mind thinking or being at all rational. The complete need for this person. The need that makes you blush, makes you incoherent.
And if it's dynamite for opening us up, it is primacord explosive wrapped around your waist because of the risk. Admitting your desire to yourself is one thing, but admitting it to this other person is geometrically, exponentially, infinitely harder. You're laying yourself bare and all of the power of your cauldron is irrevocably put in their hands. In every physical and emotional way, you are giving yourself to them and in that instant they may reject you.
There's no going back from that: you can try saying you were kidding, but nobody's ever kidded.
It is do or die inside.
So I find romances and romcoms deliciously tense. That's silly, even preposterous of me because there surely has never been a modern romance tale that didn't end happily. But as the couple tentatively lean in for that first kiss, I feel like they're playing with live ammunition.
These are terribly male types of analogies and metaphors, aren't they? I'm not trying to be masculine writing about romcoms, I just don't know another way to convey the totality of the damage done by rejected love and desire.
Also, I've just realised why I wrote the qualifying word 'modern' back there. Wuthering Heights. Oh, my lights, the power in that novel. Emily Bronte knew all this stuff, even if she did write weird narrative structures and never thought to include tentacles.
When I watch a romance, a romcom, a drama, I am truly edge-of-seat until the first kiss. After that, I'm not fussed. Sex, nudity, cor, phroaw, whatever, do what you like. Have an orgy on screen for all I care. I'm not saying I'm either prudish or even trying to claim that I am somehow immune to body parts, but sex on film isn't explosive, it isn't story, it just isn't drama.
I started writing this to you as a gag and yet I've actually learnt something about myself: I've learnt that although I have mocked films before for cutting to rippling waves on the ocean or whatever, it turns out that I am actually quite fine with a kiss and –
FADE TO BLACK.