Being someone who grew up with all the advantages of being middle class, yet still ended up, through bad choices, poor timing and the economic downturn, living on a shit council estate does, you’d be pleased to know, still have its funny sides. I mean, I still wouldn’t recommend it. But there are comedy moments, such as buying pâté in Waitrose and finding that your green charity token can be used to help build a community centre for scummers such as yourself (if, that is, your son doesn’t decide that talking books are a more worthy cause). Then there’s the Ice Cream Van of Mystery. It looks like a normal ice-cream van and plays the usual tinkly tune, but it comes every, and I mean every, evening round our way. I’m talking about 8pm in the middle of November when it’s freezing and pitch black outside. Being all middle class and suspicious, I’m thinking “can it really be ice-cream they’re selling? What if it’s DRUGS????”. In reality, it’s probably beer or milk or bread or something totally random. I’m too middle class to ask. Still, my sons know never to ask for an ice-cream from it.

Just as they’ll know not to ask for a free ice-cream from the Ann Summers I Scream van of shite. Visit the van and you can get a free ice-cream with lube flavoured topping (while stocks last). Pull your best orgasm face and allow it to be posted on Facebook and you can win more. Turn up in just your bikini and you’ll get some free swimwear. Way-hey! It’s like 1990s ironic sexism never ended (what’s that? You mean to say it didn’t?). Anyhow, I’m wondering what’s in it for me if I turn up just plain nude with a Rampant Rabbit rammed up my arse. Worth a try, isn’t it?

If I’m out with my sons and we see the van obviously I won’t be nude and with the Rabbit. That’s just for when I’m alone. If they ask, I will also tell them that we’re not getting a free ice-cream from the stupid sexist van of misery. I’ll tell them it’s not for little boys but being sold as part of a promotional exercise for that rudey women shop in the Regent Arcade where we live. It’s not like they’ve never seen Ann Summers before. It’s right there in the middle of our town. Our sons see the window display pretty much every time we’re out.

I don’t deliberately take them past Ann Summers. It’s just that it’s right next to the famous “bubble clock” in the town centre. Every half-hour the bubble clock chimes then plays “I’m forever blowing bubbles” while blowing actual bubbles on the merry toddlers below. So you then get the spectacle of cheery little poppets leaping around to burst as many as they can, right in front of some cheesy blow-up image of a woman in a scratchy-looking bra and pants set.

My sons never really ask about Ann Summers. Once, when my eldest was 14 months old, he toddled over to the window, started licking it and refused to budge. He screamed his head off when we carried him away. No idea what that was about. Maybe the sexy lady looked a lot like Mummy (although that’s unlikely).

When they do start to ask, I’d like to be as honest as possible, on a need to know basis. Thus speaks a smug mum who has never, in fact, been asked about Ann Summers (although I have been honest about the basics of sex thus far. This has simply led to my youngest deciding I’m mean because I won’t let him back in the womb, which is some rough-and-tumble waterpark as far as he’s concerned). Anyhow, if they do ask, I’d like them to know two things:

  1. sex is good in the right circumstances
  2. Ann Summers is shit, in every circumstance

To clarify a bit more, this is what I’d want to tell them:

  1. Vibrators are like pretend willies. Not every woman or man likes a pretend willy. Some of us like people attached to willies. Still, most women will pretend they like vibrators for fear of looking prudish if they don’t. Lesson: Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Tell people what you really like and don’t like. Thing I won’t mention: it took Mummy 20 years to admit she hates her “spotted dick”.
  2. Some people like dressing up for sex. Other people don’t, but this may be because they think the only options are waitress, nurse or uncomfortable woman with lace jammed up her crack. There are in fact lots of things you could wear, or not wear. Lesson: It’s up to you and your partner to be imaginative in your own way. Don’t just buy what the sex shops tell you to. Thing I won’t mention: Mummy dressing in biscuits and pulling a bloke in a caveman outfit, then randomly, five years later, in a completely different town, discovering said man working in an office opposite her flat.
  3. Only give blow jobs if you want to, only accept them if you want to. Always, always ensure that genitals are in some way exposed. The “panted blow job”, as shown in the Anna Span videos due to some legal restriction or other, does not, as far as I know, really work.* Although I’ve never tried it. Lesson: Consent is important before the removal of clothes. But don’t take the removal of clothes for consent. Either way, though, the removal of clothes matters. Thing I won’t mention: Mummy’s attempt to shag in a corridor with her tights still on. The less said about that, the better.
  4. If you grow up to fancy women, be aware that woman can be turned on by all sorts of rubbish. Buying “made for women” porn is not necessarily a safe bet. Or rather, it might be too safe (see panted blow job, above). Yes, Anna Span and Candida Royale (awful, awful name) can be funny. But don’t imagine every woman dreams of being taken from behind by a German exchange student for whom she’s just cooked beans on toast. Lesson: Don’t decide what the boundaries of another person’s imagination are. Listen and see if that’s what you want too. Thing I won’t mention: Mummy actually liked the beans on toast film. Especially the bit at the end when, post-shag, the woman suddenly exclaims “but you haven’t finished your beans!”
  5. Small cuddly teddies with erections are not erotic. Frankly we should feel sorry for them. Lesson: Always wear a condom. Otherwise you’ll look like one of those stupid teddies. Thing I won’t mention: Mummy secretly dreams of liberating the erection teddies. They don’t deserve their fate (whatever it is).

Thus ends Mummy’s imaginary sex education lesson. The real-life one will be much messier than this, much more piecemeal, and prone to lots and lots of misunderstanding. I hope we get there in the end. In the meantime, we’re not getting our ice-cream from Ann Summers. Anyhow, I bet the only flavour they have is vanilla.

* The “panted blow job” is a blow job given, literally, through pants so that no cock can be seen. Never witnessed it? You’re just not hardcore enough.