Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Always Read the Brochure

I didn’t dare risk revealing my ignorance by asking a question. I was still wondering what I had been so honest about in the profile that Caroline must have completed for me. Was it the football or the jealousy? Or did I have a failing of which I was not yet aware?
“No? So let’s start with what matters. How long is it since you last had sex? With each other, I mean.”
Caroline stared straight ahead. “I think it was when we were on holiday in the Caribbean. Last October.”
“Is that your recollection, Robert?”
I looked at Caroline. “What about that time in December you came home drunk from the Monsaint Christmas party?”
“If you say we did, then we did. But it’s not proper sex if I don’t remember it, is it?”
“Let’s not worry about details,” said Valerie. “It’s clear from what both of you are saying that your sexual relationship has ground to a halt. You’ve both been very brave to admit that by coming here. Can you tell me, one at a time, why you think that has happened? Caroline first.”
“I think… Of course we’re both very busy at work and the opportunities have been limited.”
“Go on.”
“I think Robert’s gone off me. He’s more interested in Manchester United. He keeps making hurtful comments about my appearance, my weight.”
“What comments?” I said, but got no further. Valerie told me to wait my turn.
“Go on, Caroline.”
“Robert makes no allowance for the pressures of my job. He thinks I swan off abroad for the fun of it when actually I’m working really, really hard. He expects me to jump into bed the minute I get back home but I need time to relax first.”
Valerie nodded. “I understand. Now you, Robert. How do you explain the recent lack of sex in your relationship with Caroline?”
I looked at Caroline and wondered if I dared tell the truth, that I was wracked by a crippling jealousy, the image of Caroline in the arms of another man. The lack of opportunity was a smokescreen; it hadn’t stopped us in the first few years of our marriage. I had no idea which comments about Caroline’s appearance she had misunderstood. I thought she was drop-dead gorgeous. The trouble was, so did certain other men in her life.
“I can’t explain it.” Well, I couldn’t. I couldn’t explain how she had allowed herself to be seduced by an old boyfriend. Not just seduced, but painted naked in loving detail for the whole world to see. How she brushed off my concerns as me being old-fashioned, and how even now she went all misty-eyed when recalling those evenings in his studio in Whitechapel. Valerie fixed me with her sympathetic smile and told me not to worry; that most men find it hard to talk about their difficulties in the bedroom.
“No, you misunderstand. I don’t have difficulties in the bedroom, I…”
“Yes?”
“I mean, everything works all right. It’s just that Caroline’s mind seems to be somewhere else. She doesn’t seem interested.”
“I see. Thank you, Robert. Thank you Caroline. I know this isn’t easy. But as you know from the literature, we don’t focus too much on analysing the past. The most important thing is the present and the future. And we know from our research that the key is to re-establish physical intimacy, starting from today. But not with each other. First we must rule out any physical, organic or behavioural problems. Are you happy to proceed with the session?” Caroline nodded. I wished, not for the first time, that I’d read the brochure, but I nodded assent.


Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.

email fanshawrobert@gmail.com