authors index

books index



Manuals for the Happy Home

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Len Barnett
Sex and Teenagers in Love
Denholm House, Nutfield, 1972
first published 1967
(price: 50p; 96 pages)

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Robert Chartham
Sex Manners For Men
New English Library, London, 1969
first published by Leslie Frewin, 1967
(price: 5/-; 144 pages)

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Inge & Stan Hegeler
Living Is Loving
Panther, London, 1974
first published by Neville Spearman, 1971
(price: 50p; 160 pages)

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Doctor 'C'
The Sensuous Couple
New English Library, London, 1971
(price: 25p; 128 pages)

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Paul Brown & Carolyn Faulder
Treat Yourself To Sex
Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1981
first published 1979
(price: 1.50; 192 pages)

Teach-yourself books are always popular, of course, and nowhere more so than in the world of sex. Whether they're actually used to glean information or simply as semi-legitimate pornography is another matter altogether, but they never seem to have any trouble selling. And - from the point of view of this site - what we're interested in is obviously how amusing they are.

On that score, Len Barnett is a bit of a let-down. The cover looks distinctly like a Christian book from the early-Seventies, and you won't be surprised to find a Foreword contributed by Edward H Patey, the Dean of Liverpool or by the fact that Barnett was a Methodist minister. The text may not be overtly religious, but that's clearly the tone, with a strong vein of moralizing on notions of 'going too far' and 'the ideal of chastity before marriage'. All a bit dull, I'm afraid, and looking very much like a rearguard action for a book written in 1967.

Robert Chartham, on the other hand, was part of the why-can't-we-just-be-open-and-honest school of sex publishing in the Seventies, firmly in the Forum camp, and he knocked out half-a-dozen of these books, exploring technique and dispensing advice on mechanics and positions. Some of the comment is curious - 'I am quite convinced that you cannot hope to get the best out of love-play unless both of you are completely naked,' he insists (p.107), which would seem to leave rubber fetishists up a gum tree - but generally it's harmless, if unexciting. The most noticeable feature is his insistence on referring to the female half of a couple as 'the wife'.

The Hegelers were precisely the kind of couple that the 'Forum-minded' (as the expression went) used to look enviously at across the North Sea. They were so refreshingly frank and out-spoken and all that. They were also curiously translated: a picture of a nightie-clad woman beating a man is captioned: 'Many people have fantasies like this which they would never dream of realizing in practice. Many people, yes!' I have chosen not to reproduce that illustration, however, because its companion piece features such a wonderful Desperate Dan figure that I couldn't help but share; here 'tis:

Doctor C was much less celebrated, but he's hugely more entertaining (assuming it's a real person). He's full of chatty tales about how young people are deluding themselves if they think they've just invented sex - why, he had sex many years ago, and he knows all about it. He wants to share some of the wisdom he's accumulated over a long and happy love-life:

There is a little bit of Walter Mitty in all of us. We all have our hopes and our ideals and our standards, and it doesn't do any harm if now and again we indulge ourselves in a small pretence that we are St George rescuing the damsel, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, a jumbo-jet pilot, Richard Nixon or Ted Heath. (pp.115-116)

You'll notice that, despite the title of the book, this curious list of fantasy figures is gender-specific. Hey, this was the Seventies.

Treat Yourself To Sex is subtitled 'A Penguin Handbook' - an unfortunate choice of words, but one that accurately encapsulates the tedium that it contains.

non fiction