Bang to Rights

Bang to Rights


Egypt is setting down clear markers in its drive to democracy. According to Arab media, the newly elected parliament is proposing a law giving men the legal right to have sex with their wives up to six hours after they have died.

Now call me old-fashioned – but I’d always been led to believe sex was something to be enjoyed between two consenting people. Where is the consent in this? Even if the wife signed up to it beforehand, like in a pre-nuptial, there’d be no opportunity to change her mind. And unless it’s physically or spiritually possible for a dead person to be stimulated in the same way as a live one, I can’t see where her enjoyment would come from.

Admittedly there’ve been times when I’ve thought that the woman in my bed has not displayed much enthusiasm, and no doubt some have felt the same of me. But to know this in advance would seem about as exciting a prospect as getting Isla the Inflatable out of the bottom drawer. 

It also raises a number of technical questions. Would the dead woman still be the man’s wife? And why six hours? Is that the amount of time it would be pleasurable before say the body starts to emit gases or stiffen up. Perhaps it’s the longest a man’s interest is likely to last? With five point four minutes the average before a man reaches orgasm, rising by a power of three for the next two climaxes, add in progressively longer recovery periods and six hours should do nicely before calling it a day.

And when does the six hours start? Maybe the man could delay calling the doctor to squeeze out more time. Or what if the six hours is up and he hasn’t quite finished? Does the long arm of the law step in?

‘Right sir, that’ it. Time’s up. It’s not our fault you started with less than five point four minutes to go.’

What’s more worrying is that Egypt is not that far away – about the same flight time as say Tenerife or Cyprus. Imagine at 10.34 p.m. (apparently the average most popular time for intercourse) listening to your neighbours through the thin, papyrus walls of a Sharm El Sheikh hotel. As the man races to his finale, with the woman’s enjoyment conspicuous by her silence, wouldn’t it be tempting to think:

‘I wonder if she’s … ? Ah well it shouldn’t last more than another five hours or so.’

The Thomas Cook terms and conditions would have to state:

Balcony and sea view £2, Air conditioning £3, Aud-erism £5. Married couples please note that if wives die during the holiday, local laws apply.

I accept that every culture has its own ideas and values. There must be hundreds of rituals across the world, many involving a lack of female rights, that would make the six-hour rule look saintly. And at least this way the woman de facto suffers in silence. But assuming most women don’t die suddenly, wouldn’t it be a darn sight more enjoyable to go for so-called ‘farewell intercourse’ while she’s on her death bed but technically still alive. At least she might be able to help with proceedings; and she’d have the chance to say no if she didn’t want it, and to enjoy it if she did – a proper, shared goodbye.








We Three Swans



For my birthday in February, Tess treated me to an overnight stay at Aberdovey, a small seaside village within Snowdonia National Park on the north side of the Dovey (Dyfi) estuary. We stayed at the Sea Breeze Bed and Breakfast and Restaurant, in a bright, spacious room looking straight across the river, though a heavy sea fret meant we’d have to wait until morning to enjoy the view.

In summer Aberdovey is a haven for watersport enthusiasts and for families enjoying the fine sand and thriving little harbour, perfect for crabbing. In winter it is quiet.

The driving rain we’d struggled through from the train station early afternoon had reduced to a drizzle as we headed for a drink at the Penhelig Arms. The few seafront shops that opened out of season had just finished for the day and we had the underlit streets to ourselves. Tiny waves, pushed on by a brisk South-Westerly breeze, slapped onto the shell-strewn beach below, reminding us how much we had missed the sea. Embracing the emptiness and wrapped in damp, salt air we were easily lost in the misty romance of it all.

‘Wow!’ said Tess, suddenly. ‘Look at that! Are they what I think?’

Feeding voraciously in the muddy shallows were three swans, their white plumage fluorescent in the gloom. Not only was it strange seeing them active after dark, and in salt water, but fascinating how they plucked nutrients from the water’s edge with such intensity, as if stocking up for a long vigil. They hardly noticed as I crept close enough to chance a photo.

Feeding in the shallows

Spirits raised by this unusual sight, we sat before the pub’s log fire supping Brains Bitter and French Merlot and dreaming up scenarios about where the swans had come from and what would happen to them next. When we came back an hour later they were still busying themselves, in deeper water round the wooden stanchions of the pier. Surely there was a plan to all this?

Back at Sea Breeze, we were taken by the happy ambience of the busy bistro on such a chilly winter night. We realised it was local people, well aware of the superb cuisine, and that we’d hit lucky. Barely were we seated, soaking up the warmth of the busy room after our trek through the mist, when a basket of homemade soda bread with olives and oils arrived.This could not have primed us better for the Dyfi fish stew with aioli, and crab with pistachio mayo, leaving just enough room for a shared apple and elderflower fool.

Afterwards we took the night air to round off a wonderful day. At the pierhead, leaning tentatively on the flimsy metal railing, we were entranced by the desolation. The sea churned below us on a turning tide, and a thicker fog had fallen across the estuary, so we could see no further than a few yards out into the water. It was hard to believe we were close to civilisation yet in complete ownership of this mysterious and romantic setting. I couldn’t have asked for more; it was the perfect birthday present.

‘They’re probably hunkered down somewhere,’ I said, harking back to the swans.

‘Don’t be so sure,’ said Tess. ‘Look – here they come now!’

My amazing day was not over yet! Right on cue we watched the surreal sight of our proud creatures appearing through the murk from further along the pier. It was as if they’d been waiting for us to return for a final, late-night performance.

‘Aah, there are only two,’ I said. The image we’d formed earlier was somehow spoilt by the trio splitting up.

‘No, here comes the other one,’ said Tess. ‘It’s lagging behind the others.’

The three swans picked up speed as they hit the ebbing current. With time against us and no real chance of a photo we huddled together for precious moments, transfixed as the solitary yellow lamp picked out the swans’ upright necks and dazzling feathers before they were plunged back into swirling darkness – a final sail-past before heading out to open sea on a vital night mission.


Paul Costello © May 2012


Twitter:    @PaulCostello8