In these days of Brexit chaos, things to make us proud are hard to come by. So much more precious then are the recent data showing that we can at least be proud of our leadership in an area not normally associated with Britain: romance.
Continentals, especially those in the bottom half of Europe, always brag about their passionate virility, while mocking the British for their cold, calculating rationalism devoid of any romantic impulse.
Napoleon even went so far as to describe the British as “a nation of shopkeepers”. A nation of shoplifters would be closer to the mark nowadays, but that’s not the point.
The point is that it’s time to abandon the stale, false image of Britain and her people. For it’s precisely in the area of romance that Blighty comfortably leads the way.
Our pupils may lag behind continentals in literacy and numeracy exams, but British youngsters outperform them by a wide margin in pregnancy tests. And, as we’ve just found out, Britain accounts for 55 per cent of all gonorrhoea cases in Europe. So who says romance is dead in perfidious Albion?
Actually, the technical term ‘gonorrhoea’ rather takes the romance out of it, making the condition sound undesirable, perhaps even shameful. However, as Dr Mark Lawton, a sexual health consultant in Liverpool, correctly states, “Shame is not a word that should ever be associated with sexually transmitted infections.”
Hear, hear. In fact, rather than stigmatising gonorrhoea, we should applaud it – hence the nice, warm colloquial name for it, the clap.
For that survey shows that Britons are more capable of love, broadly defined, than anyone else in Europe. It’s people refusing to describe as love a quick tumble in the dark alley behind the pub who should be ashamed of themselves. What matters isn’t the duration of a romance, but it’s sincerity and intensity.
Even more despicable is an attempt to ascribe our record-breaking incidence of the clap to an underuse of condoms during romantic entanglements. Well, at least there aren’t many spoilsports about who blame sexual promiscuity and the general decline in moral standards. Thank God, who everybody knows doesn’t exist, for small favours.
Such archaic notions were rightly jettisoned long ago – people my age remember them sailing out of the window back in the ‘60s. In fact, we were the ones who pushed them that way. And as to using condoms, that’s like smelling a rose through a gas mask.
It’s not as if young Britons aren’t aware of condoms and their use. Why, even kindergarten pupils are taught how to pull a johnny on their pee-pee, when the pee-pee is big enough to be thus enveloped. By the time they reach secondary school, those pupils know all there’s to know about condoms – and reject them for being cold, antiseptic killers of romantic spontaneity.
Moreover, since clap isn’t exclusively transmitted by the conventional amorous method, many women may balk at having to chew on a bit of impersonal, disembodied latex. No, the clap is caused by romance itself, not by any shortage of its paraphernalia. It’s a tax on love, and as unavoidable as any other taxation.
One must admit – and rejoice! – that modern electronic media make it easier to find the love of one’s life (or perhaps just of an hour in one’s life) than ever before. Things like online dating, chat websites and e-mails put love, and therefore the clap, within easy reach.
The pattern is repeated over and over again. Boy finds girl’s photo on the net. Boy likes what he sees. Boy makes contact. Girl responds favourably. Boy meets girl, say, in the dark alley behind the King’s Head. Boy and girl instantly fall in love. Boy and girl consummate their love with a quick roll in the dirt. Boy and girl introduce themselves (this last step is strictly optional and in fact may be infrequent). After a few days, boy and girl discover they have the clap.
Sweet romance, as they say. In that spirit, I propose the old song “I gave my love a rose…” should be changed to “I gave my love the clap.”
Having written this, I realise how hopelessly behind the times I am by suggesting that it’s the boy who initiates the infectious contact. These days, the girl is just as likely to make the first approach leading to contagion, which is what women’s liberation is all about.
As a lifelong champion of modernity, I hope you’ll join me in a round of clapping applause for our young compatriots who are showing those continentals what’s what.
It’s the British who are the nation of lovers; it’s the British who joyously indulge in public copulation in places like Ibiza – while the locals look on with admiration and envy. Long may it continue.