“I am a respiratory registrar; my day job involves treating smoking-related lung diseases like emphysema and lung cancer but I still believe that in the right circumstances, smoking can be really fucking hot!” The Other Livvy
I’ve known for a while (about two years!) that I’d eventually get round to doing an album cover series. This Cigarettes After Sex cover has been on the list since the beginning. I don’t know much about the band but I was captivated by Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby during the first series Handmaid’s Tale and when I looked the tune up on Spotify I immediately approved of them using this Man Ray image for their cover art.
The title of the album also makes me hugely nostalgic for, well, cigarettes after sex. Cigarettes after sex go together like cheese and wine or strawberries and cream. Like all ex-smokers there’ll always be a part of me that romanticises cigarettes and misses them, even though I know they’re bad for us and ludicrously expensive and make us smell and taste bad. Part of me wishes we didn’t know so much and could all just bust like Marlene Dietrich.
When I was figuring out my February Photo Fest photos I put Livvy’s name against this photo because I knew she’d pull off the Man Ray look so wonderfully. It was only as I started reminiscing about all the excellent post fuck fags I’ve had in tents and fields and manky student bedrooms and lying on lawns of stately houses during May balls that I suddenly thought: “bloody hell, she’s a lung doctor, that’s a totally inappropriate caption for her photo.” Then I remembered the above quote from this post and laughed out loud. She’s right, in the right circumstances smoking can be really fucking hot. Or at least it was.
This spate of nostalgia has been heavily influenced by the re-run of This Life on BBC4 and iPlayer. If you are of a certain age and disposition and are similarly besotted with that programme may I recommend The Guyliner on why you are not and never will be Anna from This Life!
To say the programme influenced my early twenties would be an understatement. The first series broadcast during my last term at university and a few months later as six of us stumbled into a three storey town house in Camden with its primary colour walls and big windows and high ceilings one of us exclaimed: “it‘s just like the This Life house,” and we put the deposit down on the spot. We weren’t lawyers, we were all working in PR, fashion and travel, but we swanned around Camden feeling like we were the This Life gang. When the second series landed in spring 1997 we felt like we were watching ourselves. We had the washing up and stolen yoghurt arguments, we had a couple who at times were not dissimilar to Egg and Milly, we had a flatmate move in a dodgy partner, there were the money dramas, the job dramas and lots and lots of partying, booze and sex.
While we saw our London life and home and co-living dramas reflected back at us and we definitely allowed ourselves to be influenced by it, I didn’t think it had influenced the sex we had that much. I mean, we had a lot of it with a lot of different people, but we were 22 and box fresh graduates with disposable income arriving in Camden amidst the excitement of 1997. If we hadn’t been having a lot of sex we’d have been missing an open goal.
I say I didn’t think the show had influenced the sex we had.
For more than twenty years I’ve had a fantasy about fucking on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve had many orgasms to that fantasy over the years. The details change. Sometimes the audience are just watching, sometimes they are wanking as they watch. One time David Beckham was in the audience wanking. I always thought it was bizarre that I’d magicked this fantasy up before I’d ever visited the Royal Albert Hall. In recent years I’ve used the fantasy as an example of how I was clearly an exhibitionist even before I’d heard the word or read anything about it. But last week I’m watching This Life and Milly, Egg and Anna are watching porn. “How can people do that in front of a camera?” says Milly, to which Anna retorts: “I’d fuck on stage at the Royal Albert Hall if it meant I was getting some.” Ah!
Oh, I love my life now. I love my solo-living, clean and tidy, smoke-free flat in suburban south London. But fucking hell, if for one day I could just magic myself back to Camden of summer 1997 and be 22 with it all to come and lie in bed listening to the noise of the house and the street as I smoke a cigarette after sex…