Belfast Telegraph

I'd have to be horse-whipped to buy Fifty Shades of Grey

By Robert McNeill

I regret to announce that I will not be buying Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. The initials hint at something homely like L.P. Hartley or P.G. Wodehouse. But the writer turns out to be a purveyor of libidinous literature, or lib lit, as I expect it's called.

You say: "Fair enough, but surely that is only for those and such as those, persons of a depraved nature who do not worship our Lord. I forget his name for the moment. Oh yes: Jesus."

That is a good point well made, though we'll have to agree to disagree about His Lordship.

But, lo, this tome has been selling like heated patisserie, almost certainly, I suspect, fuelled by citizens ordering it online, rather than marching into a bookstore and saying: "Have you got yon book with all the perverted bonking in it?"

Fifty Shades of Grey involves bondage, which always sounds a tad restricting to me.

I'd just get all trussed up and whatnot before telling my partner: "I'm sorry, could you undo all that as I forgot to go to the lavatory?" And they'd have to spend the next 10 minutes irritatedly unlocking everything.

Oddly enough, the only people buying Fifty Shades of Grey are women. I'm a busy man and haven't had time to research this subject, so I'm not sure who's bondaging whom in the book.

However, one chap online said that his wife had read the book and, after 20 years of marriage, was now asking if she could smack his bottom.

It has always been my view that a man's bottom is no one's business but his own, a domain sacred and private even from his other half, and certainly not a thing to be smacked or booted. Even nudging it should be permissible only in an emergency.

I wonder if the book has a plot or if it makes you think. Folk in the writing trade tell me publishers just don't look at 99.9% of new fiction.

Even when they do, they'll often return a manuscript saying it's the best thing they've read in years, but they're not taking a commercial chance on it, as it doesn't feature a Scandinavian corpse or whatever's all the rage.

Publishers are fad-orientated, though I suppose lewdness is always in favour.

Even on the Bel Tel online, I've noticed that if you write about procreation your ratings soar, whereas thoughtful essays on existentialism or fruit remain largely unread.

That's why I often put in passing references to lewdness in the hope that I'll get a sexy headline and attract the mob: "Kierkegaard silent on hooters question."

But this James woman has clearly cracked it on the books front. I have an agent and, every year, she phones me and says: "Have you written anything yet?" And I say: "No." And she says: "Keep trying. Goodbye."

This year, I'm going to say: "Yes. I've written a novel about a man with a big bottom who keeps having it horse-whipped by his wife of 20 years."

"Hmm, sounds interesting. What else happens?"

"That's about it really."

"Well, keep working on it. Sounds like you're on the right lines."

I don't know where to take it from there. However, I do know the hero will be an existentialist with a penchant for loganberries and similar soft fruits.


From Belfast Telegraph