ROSIE talks sex shops and rejection in her first column.
This summer started like any other. I got home, got bored, and started looking for a job.
It always goes the same way. I start full of the confidence of having Cambridge University on my CV. Then, a few dozen rejections from worthy internships later, and I find myself walking from shop to shop, looking for vacancies.
This year, on one of these trips, I found myself in one of the 140 branches of a little shop called Ann Summers. I was applying for a sales assistant job, basically just for a staff discount to boast about.
I will never know why Ann Summer rejected me that day. Perhaps they didn’t think my week’s work experience stacking teabags in Whittards aged 16 would transfer to lube. Certainly, my flavour expertise lay more in Lapsang and English Breakfast than ‘Juicy Candy Floss’ or the ‘Deck the BaIls’ Christmas collection. Nor had I ever had to use the words pussy, vajazzle or ticklewhip whilst doing a stock check.
But woefully inexperienced as I was in all those things, at least I was keen. Ann Summers isn’t cool. It’s stuck in an age of feathers and sequins, fun squeezy bottles, hen parties and the colour turquoise. It isn’t even daring any more. As the checkout lady informed me, it’s hardly worth them selling magic bullets, because everyone has one already.
What Ann Summers is – and I think intentionally – is fun. The shops pop up next to Greggs or HMV, making sex as gloriously commercial as everything else. If you can buy some furry handcuffs and a feather boa for a fiver, why not have a laugh with your boyfriend next time there’s nothing good on TV? Ann Summers has taken the vibrator and turned it into something you buy and get one free. You can’t get much more high street.
Which is why it’s so different from the biggest sex trend of the summer. As I was being rejected from Ann Summers, millions of women were accepting EL James’ 50 Shades of Grey as their bonkbuster of choice. The clue is in the name. The John Major of soft-porn, 50 Shades is all contracts, washing machines and taking sex very, very, seriously. Christian Grey may be a dab hand at spanking, but I doubt he has any good jokes.
So as the heroine fretted and worried about it all, the nation fretted and worried about the poor writing and violent undertones. Everyone had an opinion, but hardly anyone saw the trilogy as just a bit of fun.
Meanwhile, Ann Summers was cheerfully shifting vibrators in 50 shades of neon and pissing themselves laughing over cock-shaped ice-cubes. Of course, Ann Summers will profit massively from the 50 Shades effect, but hopefully not at the expense of the first rule of sex and the cornerstone of the business. Both are fun.
At the very least the HR department at Ann Summers HQ are having fun, passing my CV around and having a right old giggle at a very silly surname…