Skaapie and the goddess ‘working’ the mall
THERE was I innocently ambling through the mall when she spotted me. Was it the freshly folded afternoon newspaper, the litre of full cream milk or the hefty wedge of cheddar that gave away my suburban proclivities? From the smile she gushed, I re-programmed to thinking it might be the tailored suit, the Happy Socks or the Cavalli watch.
Once in my Bangladesh Market district in Chatsworth there was this gaggle of nubile young women giggling in my direction. I looked around to confirm that it was indeed me that they had zeroed in on.
The mall goddess was altogether different. She was radiantly made up, sculpted eyebrows and every hair in place. She fixed my gaze, dark eyes rimmed with Zsa Zsa Gábor eyelashes. The sheath dress and stylish stilettos fitted right in with the leather Longchamp tog tucked under her left arm.
I hazarded that she might have recognised me from the kindergarten meeting or the fundraiser at the Greyville race course or indeed this column. So many probabilities race through the mind when testosterone levels get that rare spike.
“I have a place up the road,” she whispered. “Oh, you live in Morningside,” I replied. As that smile tensed up into a pinch came the revelation, “I’m working, Daddy.” I gasped for the protection of my ancestors and the breath that would keep me from keeling over. Steadying myself, I quickly glanced around to see who was watching the scene that didn’t make the cut for Pretty Woman. Sensing that I was more a skaapie than a punter, a click of designer heels announced that she was off. I limped off to my middle-class car in the undercover parking nursing my oft-bruised ego.
In the refuge of my private library I eagerly slipped the wrapper off Belle de Jour and peeked into the daily adventures of London call girl, Brooke Magnanti, who supplemented her income while studying for her doctorate.
On the same shelf I found Arthur Golden’s outstanding Memoirs of a Geisha that tells of the delicate world of Japan’s courtesans who were most adept at ceremonially pouring tea and playing the harp. Chiyo Sakamoto and her sister were sold to a geisha district during World War II.
From John Cleland’s Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure comes the epic line, “Any port in a storm”. In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the bawdy Mistress Overdone enthralled me. In Oliver Twist I could never understand why Dickens, while empathising with Nancy who was forced into prostitution by poverty, could never bring himself to name her line of work.
Colette’s The Rainy Moon broke all kinds of sexual taboos in literature. Reading Apollinaire’s Les Onze Mille Verges as an undergraduate, I struggled with both the language and the salacious picture of the brothel as an unrestrained playground.
In Eleven Minutes, Paulo Coelho gives us Maria from a poor Brazilian village whose dreams of fortune served only to lead her down the dark alley of heartbreak and prostitution. A telling point that very little sex work is glamour. Most of it is organised crime, violence and human trafficking in boys and girls, men and women.
A book that I am looking forward to arriving in the mail is The Walworth Beauty by Michèle Roberts which was published by Bloomsbury last month.
Sometime in the 1980s she wrote The Wild Girl where she claimed Mary Magdalene was a prophet and the author of a missing gospel. I suspect that her latest offering will be every bit as controversial. To pick it up from my private post-box I will have to brave another visit to the mall. Que sera, sera.
Higgins promotes #Readingrevolution via Books@ Antinquecafe in Windermere and #Hashtagbook in the Shannon Drive Shopping Centre in Reservoir Hills.