Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Front Page -

IT’S one of those days when ev­ery­thing is up­side down. Re­ally. The tops of the hills are green while the low­lands are white with frost.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists call it an in­ver­sion. The hills here are 1000ft high – nor­mally when you go up onto those ridges in win­ter it’s brass-mon­keys all round – but to­day it is balmy at al­ti­tude and freez­ing down here.

So I’m writ­ing fu­ri­ously to keep warm. But maybe I should go up the road and ap­ply for mem­ber­ship to a new club that has opened in my par­ish. I reckon it will be toasty warm in­side the big house where this mem­ber­ship-only or­gan­i­sa­tion is based. Why should I say such a thing? Be­cause the old house has be­come a cen­tre for swingers, or wife-swap­pers, or what­ever they call them­selves. A par­ish coun­cil­lor sent me a link to the club’s web­site and… blimey!

I imag­ine the cen­tral heat­ing will have to be cranked es­pe­cially high around 10.30 in the evening – be­cause that is “dress-down” time.

“Af­ter our fa­mous ‘dress code’ song (22.30) it is ap­pre­ci­ated that ev­ery­one is then dressed down into

Colum­nist Martin Hesp has dis­cov­ered that the big house in his vil­lage, once home to a Ger­man count, is now the base for one of the coun­try’s big­gest swingers clubs

beau­ti­ful sexy lin­gerie for the ladies and box­ers etc for the gen­tle­men,” says the web­site.

It cer­tainly has the vil­lage tongues wag­ging, if my visit to the pub was any­thing to go by. One lo­cal bloke told us he’d “come over all un­nec­es­sary” af­ter tak­ing his dog for a walk near the house – only to be told later on what was go­ing on in­side.

In­deed, as far as I can make out, some of the par­ish coun­cil­lors have “come over all un­nec­es­sary”, as peo­ple used to say. Think­ing about it, that might not be the best of phrases to use in the cir­cum­stances, but never mind.

And I do not mind. It doesn’t bother me if a bunch of peo­ple are get­ting their kits off up the road and role­play­ing Fifty Shades of Grey. Best of luck to them, I say. Con­sent­ing adults should be able to do what­ever they like be­hind closed doors, as long as an NHS bill is never part of the re­sult.

In fact, I sug­gested to one par­ish coun­cil­lor that she and I should pay the £160 fee for a party-night en­try and go incog­nito as a cou­ple on a fact-find­ing mis­sion – but for some rea­son I’ve yet to get my head around, she de­murred.

It was she who sent me the link to the web­site, so she must have read that “ev­ery­one is rep­re­sented – from across ev­ery pro­fes­sion and ev­ery race and ev­ery re­li­gion, from 18 through to peo­ple in their 80s”.

I was amused to see, in the list­ing of peo­ple who at­tend, the fol­low­ing folk… “News­pa­per re­porters and ed­i­tors – news­pa­per own­ers…”

The only thing that re­ally shocked me about the web­site was the fol­low­ing fact or fake-news, you make up your own mind… “In Bri­tain alone there are in ex­cess of nine mil­lion in­volved in the swing­ing scene.”

Given that this coun­try has around 15 mil­lion young­sters aged un­der 18 and so out of the equa­tion, that would mean that one in ev­ery five adults goes in for a bit of wife-or- part­ner-swap­ping or ex­tra-mar­i­tal sex.

What would my granny say? I was brought up in these same hills and the larger part of my fam­ily was made up of strict non-con­form­ist Chris­tians. These hills on a Sun­day used to echo with the sound of Methodist min­is­ters telling peo­ple the way to the Lord and ha­rangu­ing them for hav­ing sin­ful thoughts.

What would those poor old blighters do, I won­der, if you’d told them that within 50 years one in five adults across the na­tion would be hav­ing it off with some­one they shouldn’t?

I say “some­one they shouldn’t” but ob­vi­ously that doesn’t come into the frame if you’re a swinger. For those happy folk (the web­site claims re­search has found that swingers are in gen­eral much hap­pier than “nor­mal” peo­ple) such man-made bar­ri­ers have been kicked into the dust.

Any­way… one other thing that amuses me about my par­ish play­ing host to one of the big­gest swinger clubs in the coun­try is that the old house where it’s based has been the source of “shock-hor­ror” news be­fore.

It hap­pened on July 28, 1914, seven days be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion of war be­tween Bri­tain and Ger­many. The man who owned the house – one Count Con­rad Hochberg – dis­ap­peared on that day in mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances.

The lo­cal ru­mour mill went into over­drive and there was talk of a “cache of 300 ri­fles, a Mar­coni ra­dio set, stor­age tanks con­tain­ing 7,000 gal­lons of petrol and in­crim­i­nat­ing doc­u­ments and plans of the coast”.

It seems now that this was a huge ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

The Count was an An­glophile through and through. When he died in Ber­lin years later he had in­structed that only English hymns be sung at his fu­neral, which was to be en­tirely ad­dressed in the English lan­guage.

Poor old Hochberg never did re­turn to his Som­er­set home. How­ever, I can’t help but won­der if he isn’t up there haunt­ing some of the spe­cially themed love-mak­ing rooms now.

At 10.30pm ev­ery­one at the swingers club is in­vited to dress down to sexy lin­gerie andbox­ers, says the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s web­site

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