The next post will be on or before Monday August 28th
I regularly advert to the most endearing habit of Athenians, both in the capital and in their favourite holiday haunts like Kythnos, of wearing t-shirts with groovy slogans in English, as a means of proving their wit, their audacity or their trenchant personal philosophy. About a third of these messages tend towards bullish all-purpose executive bollicks on the lines of JUST DO IT! or MAKE THINGS HAPPEN; another third is oleaginous New Age pap advising us that Love in the Form of Faithfully Watering the Garden of One’s Precious Spirit is all that Really Matters in this Beautiful Cosmos; and the final and my favourite third is the rude, the risqué and the downright outrageous. After 4 years of gawking at hundreds of such t shirts I now give the prize to what I spied 3 nights ago while sat sipping white wine about a yard from the sea at a café table on the sand. A handsome dark haired Greek woman with fine high cheekbones aged about 45 and wearing very tight black jeans and a white t shirt, was in the company of 3 or 4 friends and was enjoying a volta along the harbour. On her shirt front in stark black letters were the following forthright injunctions in the order indicated below.
Well you can’t say better than that, can you? By which I mean assuming she is stating her authentic wishes, when it comes to her ideal and uninhibited erotic dalliance, her 4-stage recipe is impressively crystal clear and impeccably assertive. The thing that strikes me right away though, is that the chances of her understanding all of those commands to her notional partner, who I suppose could be either male or female, are fairly slim. She looked the sort of person who sure enough might have imbibed a basic English principally from the Greek telly, in the form of a provocative vocabulary mostly learned from racy US movies. So the imperative ‘kiss’ would be no problem for her linguistically speaking, but almost certainly ‘seduce’ and ‘desire’ would be long shots, quite simply because those last 2 words are rarely articulated as verbs, but more often in their noun analogues in romantic films or chick movies. And the longest shot of all would be the imperative ‘whip’ for apart from dedicated porn movies, there are scant occasions where it features in quotidian or even sophisticated discourse either inside or outside of the bedroom. That being the case, the handsome woman clearly does not know what her shirt is saying to the watching world; she only has a notion of general riotous bawdiness and amusing shock value.
All of which set me idly thinking that apropos the last imperative, supposing someone takes her at her word and comes and deals her the flagellatory wallop she demands, would they be guilty of assault or would she, the seemingly willing victim, be guilty of incitement…or both? Perhaps it would be empirically worth testing, by employing an innocent small boy or girl of say about 4 years, with a toy whip such as in the old days one had for one’s whip and top. One would hilariously whisper in their ear what a strange and comical thing the nice lady over there was asking for, and then see them stroll up and deal a vigorous whap on her tightly-jeaned rear end, and record a cogent documentary note on how she took it, the granting of her singular request.
Hilarity all round no doubt and possible revelatory embarrassment for the monoglot t-shirt wearer, as the 4 year-old child, from his or her copious knowledge of English fairy tales read at school, full of horses and donkeys being whipped up and made to canter to the king’s palace post haste etc, knows exactly what that last word means.
The title of this post is taken from one of the 4 tracks on the album Soft Machine Third (1970). It is innovative jazz rock of a phenomenally high order and pace Flann O’ Brien, its like will not be seen again. The organist Mike Ratledge (who went to University College, Oxford, to read Psychology as I originally did) deserves a knighthood for his remarkable playing, at the very least.