Worrying. Very worrying. My mother’s just told me she thinks she ought to read Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Having established that she did in fact know it was an erotic novel chronicling the introduction of a young and innocent woman – notice the word young – to sadomasochistic sex, rather than a Dulux guide to interiors, or a L’Oreal guide to hair colourants for the Saga set, I listened in shock as the woman who to my mind should only ever have had sex as a means of procuring her three children started talking in the same breathy, excited tone she normally reserves for outings to Barnsley market.
Normally, my mother lives up to the wholesome-as-Allinsons image she earned when she turned 60 and got her bus pass. This is a woman who regularly goes into raptures over innocent delights, like a cut-price cauli and the size of a stallholder’s parsnip.
But I now feel she has been sullied and corrupted by the cult that is Fifty Shades. She is eager to get her sun-spotted hands on the poorly-penned drivel the now velvet-blindfolded millions have convinced themselves is the literary (stretching the word) key to sexual emancipation.
She believes it’s going to enhance her life. At the age of 81. I don’t know what she’s thinking of. For a start, she’s on tablets for blood pressure. And secondly, my step-father is almost 83. If she expects him to become a foxy silver version of Christian Grey, it could finish him off.
Besides, I’m sure it won’t be up their suburban cul-de-sac. I cannot see the pair of them, M&S through and through, suddenly getting into S&M.
God, the mental image is just too disturbing. Him stripping off his bodywarmer and gardening trousers as he finds another use for my mother’s washing line. Her giggling coquettishly as she skips towards her hostess trolley in Clarks wedgies, humming that hallowed line from the Victoria Wood song.
So I told her it is most definitely not a good idea to get a copy from Smith’s (she’s got a voucher). That a pvc mask would only mess up her hair and there’s no way she could give up the Milky Way Mini-sizes between meals. Or should, just for the sake of a man’s warped desires.
Suddenly, her tune changed. She went from giddy as a frisky young kipper to mother hen in a paddle hairbrush’s breadth.
“How do YOU know so much about it,” she asked. “Surely you haven’t read it?”
I was swift to reassure her the daughter whom she clearly thinks only she should ever have spanked had done no such thing. Nor did she need to.
Whiplash? Don’t be ridiculous. I’m with the rival gang; the 50 Shades Of Grey backlash brigade. We who believe there is nothing remotely sexy or liberating about being a man’s sex slave for love, confidently predict that by the end of 2012, women will have realised they got swept on by a frenzy fed by the desire to believe. Like they did about FitFlops, hold-you-in pants and Boots No 7 Repair and Protect night cream.
Mark my words, there will be huge stacks of well-thumbed copies of that blasted novel taking up valuable space where the secondhand cookery books should be in charity shops up and down the country.
Not to mention several million men feeling just as used and rejected.