Up Front by Emma Hart


Same as it Ever Was

Before I left for our Tour of the North, I’d been going to do a column on the ghastly British reaction to Belle de Jour’s coming out, and particularly the bizarre “facts” being touted about prostitution in New Zealand. I never quite found the time, though, and there are great responses here and here (both these sites have very NSFW pictures in the sidebar, but the writing itself is perfectly safe.)

And it turns out that now I’m in far too good a mood. Yes, Tanya Gold thinks she knows more about prostitution than prostitutes do, but it’s a brilliant Canterbury summer day and I’ve just had two weeks of Good Things and Great People. I just can’t raise the Rage, or even the Sarcasm.

While I met a host of lovely New People, I have to admit that one of my chief pleasures has been seeing all my Old People. It probably seems a little sad from the outside, but we all do it, right? Get together with old friends and tell the same stories we tell every time we get together. Nostalgia is exactly what it used to be.

At one point, after about a solid hour of this, a friend turned to his wife at dinner and said, “I’m sorry, we’re boring you with tales of our sordid pasts.”

Having a Sordid Past is excellent. Not only does it give you wonderful – if slightly embarrassing – stories to tell, but it’s also, by definition, past. When you’re no longer living it, you can leave out all the angst, all the crying and crockery-smashing. The point becomes the funny sides, which sometimes weren’t even visible at the time.

And with the fading of the angst and grudges goes the once-intense need to keep certain things secret. More than once on this trip the phrase, “You slept with who?” has been uttered, sometimes by me rather than at me*. The reunion for our year of KAOS that I’m organising for January should test the ability to leave things behind to its limit. It helps to be in a good place, and I’m now more convinced than ever that I’m in a very good place. Though those of you who attended the Christchurch launch should bear in mind that David’s tales of my Testing Times on this trip were scurrilous exaggerations.

Nevertheless, I’ve been home since Sunday and I’m still giggling in the supermarket and dancing in my lounge and forgetting to get dressed after yoga. I’d like to be able to share my extravagant good mood, because I know from experience that it isn’t going to last.

So here’s what we’re going to do. I’ve loved these tales of Sordid Pasts so much I want some more. Tell me yours. Tell me someone else’s: Tom’s retelling of Megan’s ‘cut links’ story damn near killed me. Do it in comments or by hitting ‘reply’. And the Sordid Tale that makes me laugh the hardest will win a free copy of Not Safe For Work, which I’ll know will be going to an appropriate home.

*You can tell 'by me' because then it's the unbearably wanky 'You slept with whom?'

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

(Click here to find out more)

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