Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chapter 11 “The more I think about it the more nonsensical it seems!”

This Post provides background notes on Chapter 11 of The Lust World: A Sexual Odyssey, our erotic adventure story set in 1912.  The picture used to illustrate this Chapter is one of the Strand, which Molloy walks along on his way from his office in Fleet Street (the other side of the church in this picture) to Professor Challenor's house.  This picture was taken about seven years before our story takes place, so gives a god idea of the bustle of the place.  The lack of straw boaters upon the men's heads puts it firmly in winter.  The Church you can see in the background, St Mary-le-Strand, was designed by James Gibbs with construction begun in 1714 at a cost £16,000. 

Today, very few of the buildings, other than the church itself, remain along this part of Strand and it is a very busy route in and out of the City financial district.

Molloy and Mrs Challenor enjoy a session of soixante-neuf in this episode.  It means sixty-nine, of course, in French and the first person known to have used the term for head to mouth mutual oral sex (you can see why it caught on, when trying to describe the position in another way!) was the writer and early French Revolution leader, Mlle. Théroigne de Méricourt.(1762-1817) in her Whore's Catechisms in the 1790's.   The term soon crossed the channel into Britain and sounded naughtier in French.

It is generally believed that oral sex was not nearly as common in the past (although how anyone can be sure is beyond me) but the first depiction of soixante-neuf we know of is on a first century BC Roman oil lamp.  This photograph, from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century is unusual in its depiction of the act.  Most erotica of the time showed intercourse.  Whether this reflects practice is unknown.  Given that cunnilingus is designed for female pleasure it could well be that sexual activity then was more male-centric.  Edmund Molloy, of course, enjoys giving pleasure as much as he receives it and Mrs Challenor lets him know what she wants anyway!

At their meeting Lord Hoxton suggests the use of gaberdine clothing and tents for the expedition.  Invented by Thomas Burberry in 1879, this waterproofed, close woven fabric was popular with anglers, hunters and exploreres.  Both Scott and Amundsen had gaberdine tents and wore gaberdine clothing in their race to the South Pole in 1911.  Later, explorer Percy Fawcett wore it on his expeditions to South America because of its thorn resistant nature.  Conan Doyle was inspired by Fawcett's story of a lost city in the Amazonian jungle to write The Lost World.


  1. Great stuff! I love the details.

    Here's an ad promoting Amazon cruises aboard the Booth liner Hildebrand:

    1. More about the ship in future episodes...