When we were in Montenegro we stayed with our friends Nadia and Olia and now that we are back in London they are staying with us as their flat is under the builders. Last night Olia, who is Nadia’s daughter, had gone to bed; she is a doctor and has funny hours. Nadia and the better half were in the kitchen having a serious talk. Since it was in Russian with difficult words I raised an eyebrow when I went in to get a cup of tea. They turned to me, as one.
What do you think? Should women shave their pubic hair?
All of it? Some of it?
They explained that they were thinking particularly of the Hitler look, but they would welcome my views as well on the full Jimmy Savile.
I said without a lot of thought, as it is a subject which one has considered before, that I felt that the Hitler was nearly always repellent and that whilst the Jimmy Savile had its attractions by and large things were better left as they were.
Their musings were to a large extent ad hominem, so I will draw a veil over them.
It is important in life to be continually challenged, and so, as I retired upstairs with my cup of tea, I reconsidered my no doubt glib response.
There are undoubtedly various things wrong with the Hitler.
The first is that it indicates a degree of deliberation which militates against the basic principles of dandyism. Things look most stylish when they appear to be spontaneous. The Hitler shouts of deliberations before the mirror. Where on my unsymmetrical body shall we treat half way across as being? How thick should the strip be? Should care be taken to maintain a ninety-degree angle? And ninety degrees to what?
Possibly unfairly, one could imagine Victoria Beckham devoting some of the hours that she says that she does not have for reading books to questions such as these.
The quality of the skin is also important. If stripping off the hair leaves a chapped and damaged wasteland, is that what we want?
As is the quality of the hair. The better half has a great friend whose nether regions, she tells me, are a garrigue of scrubby foliage. This woman has opted, I gather, for the Hitler but has given no thought to the outside edges, so that the central hairy area is surrounded on each side by two lengths of scoured skin, beyond which there is yet more hair. The effect, says the better half, is of a jungle with two landing strips.
(I am always surprised at the familiarity that women of one’s social circle have with each others’ private parts. It’s quite different with my male friends, possibly because I don’t willingly spend time with them in the changing rooms of gyms.)
Of course an essential consideration, as with this woman, is the mise-en-scène. This varies from woman to woman, from type to type and from nationality to nationality. I said earlier that I had considered the matter before. One such discussion was at Great Secret Miss. I said there that a view commonly held in the West was that Chinese people had very little pubic hair. As far as I was concerned this derived from remarks in a book – I forget which – by Joseph Conrad.
Amy shook her head. Illustrating one gesture with another she moved her dress to one side, pulled forward the elastic of her knickers and drew my attention briefly and modestly to what lay below, which was dark, neat and not insubstantial.
I have to say that this kept me awake at night for some time. At the time the court of appeal judge – this was some months ago – was present and seemed to suffer some sort of mild seizure. This was remarkable as, unlike me, his angle of vision enabled him to see the gesture but precluded what was indicated by the gesture.
I have never told the better half about this incident.
I was in a tea house, continued Amy, one time. In Kyoto.
You were a geisha, Amy?
No geisha. I rinse tea pots.
Under nice kimono, she went on, Japanese people disgusting hairy, like forest.
That was an intriguing mental picture too. It occurred to me that it might have philosophical implications beyond those immediately apparent.
When was this, Amy? Before or after Kettering?
Before and after Kettering, she said with a short laugh.
But to return to Nadia and the better half:
What do you think, I asked.
They replied, severally, enthusiastically and at length. Their reply too was ad hominem, so unfortunately I must pass over it as well.
Reluctantly I changed the subject:
But what about anal bleaching?