Jennifer is having a dream about shagging David Cameron, but then wakes up to another nightmare: her house is on fire. Thanks to Bob, her nice next-door neighbour (with whom she is having a long-term affair), the fire brigade has been alerted and is on its way. Recently, her husband found out about Bob and now he’s staying with his sister. But it’s more complicated than that. Although Jennifer is having a lot of extramarital fun with Bob, she often guiltily imagines she’d prefer to have it off with Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg or, if the stiff competition of Nick’s fit and accomplished wife proves too much, as second choice, Nigel Farage. Even though she has just read that UKIP has gone ‘terminally fruitcake’.
A burly (are they ever not?) fireman slings Jennifer over his shoulder and exits her burning home through the bedroom window; she find herself almost uncontrollably aroused by this iconic hero, his soot-covered face close to hers, sweat dripping from hard, chiseled muscles, and yet at the same time she experiences a deep irritation, too, in the shaming knowledge that her libido has succumbed to such a predictable example of romantic stereotyping.
But then, as he makes his way down the ladder, holding her against his massively-muscled chest, she takes one final look at her bedroom and the last thing she sees is that charming marquetry escritoire that her great aunt bequeathed her. The flames are already licking around its ormolu feet: there are only seconds before it will be reduced to ash. Forget the fireman, Bob, Farage, Clegg and her useless husband: that piece of furniture is the one she really loves. It’s been more of a husband to Jennifer than that excuse for a human being who will no doubt be consulting his expensive lawyers tomorrow. She wants to struggle and disengage herself from the fireman and rescue it, but no – it’s too late, the flames have already taken hold. So she thinks about throwing herself upon it, sati-like, and immolating herself upon its funeral pyre.
I’m beginning to realise, not for the first time, that it’s damned complicated being a woman.
So where, you might well ask, is all this going?
Once again it’s them gosh darned polls that have booked my idle imagination on this particular fantasy package tour. One of them, undertaken by TradeFurnitureCompany.co.uk, reveals that 26% of us would risk our lives to save a piece of furniture in a fire and, more bizarrely still, 14% of us love a bed so much that we would marry it. When she reached the age of 40, a Victorian spinster forebear of mine decided to retire from life, go to her bedroom and stay there, for no better reason than she, like many other financially independent ladies of the time, could afford to; she also preferred to read in bed. She would receive her friends while thus reclining and her staff would bring meals to her bedside. She died a contented old lady – in the very same bed, so perhaps the idea isn’t so far-fetched.
And our heroine’s long term affair with Bob? Well, another survey, this time undertaken for Casuals.co.uk dating website, tells us that while only 4% of men admit to a long-term affair (think Graham Greene and Catherine Walston, rather than a furtive grope in the stationery cupboard), 14% of women come clean about doing the dirty deceitfully.
What of Jennifer’s concupiscent urges towards Nick and Nigel? A further pollster, AshleyMadison.com, gives a revealing glimpse of the way UK women view their political leaders erotically. But where’s the harm in committing a little adultery in the heart? Like the peanut-farmer and former US of A president? Because if you’re being realistic, this sort of connection is unlikely to happen, not because of the average politico’s libido (Major/Currie, Prescott/Temple, Ashdown/Howard) but because they are few and their fans are legion. So why not feel free to, er… indulge?
• 39.1% of women say Nick Clegg is first choice for an extramarital affair
• 25.6% would rather have one with Nigel Farage
• 21.8% would like to tempt Ed Miliband
• but only 13.5% would like to get down and dirty with Dishy Dave.
And the fireman? Ah, well, yes. He’s not actually poll-inspired. But inspiration for him did come from a press release saying that on the 15th of October this year you’ll be able to purchase a collection of short stories edited by Delilah Devlin, entitled Smokin’ Hot Firemen. It’s about manly men who put out fires and snap their suspenders sexily (I bet you didn’t know American firemen wore suspenders. I didn’t, either). They carry kittens and children (and occasionally Jennifer) from burning buildings. Delilah lives in Arkansas and is well-known among the romance world for titles such as Cowboy Lust and Breaking Leather. Amazon have Smokin’ Hot’s release down, more optimistically, as the 8th of August.