“Went to a brothel, mate. £40.”

"BABY, you're a firework!"

A couple of days ago, whilst traveling on the train, I sat next to a man who was listening to the song “Firework” by Katy Perry on repeat. Naturally, he’d configured his iPod to the douchebag setting so that the sound could penetrate the thick layer of stupid surrounding his brain, and as he listened, he stared determinedly at the tit page in The Sun, as if his eyes were magnetically drawn towards the breasts in front of him.

Halfway through the journey his phone rang. “Y’all reet, mate?” he said. “Just went to a brothel, mate. £40. Yeah, she was all reet.”

All reet she was. The prostitute that he’d just visited was all reet, for £40.

I was shocked that he could speak, not only openly about having just paid for sex, but proudly, as if he had pulled out all the stops to seduce the unfortunate woman (presumably it was a woman). He made it sound as if she had been so taken by him, irrespective of the stains on his tracksuit bottoms, that the £40 wasn’t even necessary, but simply an added bonus. He, he seemed to feel, was the guy who turned heads down at whore house. Sometimes the girls pay him. He’s kind of a big deal.

Now, in my opening paragraph I tried to provide a very small indication of how objectionable this man was. Despite what he told his friend on the phone, this man was no playboy. Granted, I’m not entirely sure what women find attractive myself (lace perhaps or those things that come in tubs), but I’m pretty sure intense grunting and excessive ball scratching don’t rank highly, although I could be wrong.

I travel on the bus regularly, so I’ve experienced most of the smells that the general public have to offer. I’ve walked down the long staircase in CeX and, like entering a steam bath, I’ve felt the man-made sweaty haze of excited geek hit my skin. I’ve been to nightclubs and smelt the musky stench of days old BO that somebody has tried to cover up with the unsurprisingly ineffective smell of LYNX body spray. I know the extent of how unhygienic people can be, especially men, and this man was certainly up there with the best of them.

I couldn’t help but feel for the prostitute who had taken a wrong turn somewhere in life and ended up having be intimate with this man. The poor woman was getting a share of £40 to press her body up against somebody who listens to Katy Perry’s “Firework” on repeat. This was a man who appeared to have zero respect for anybody but himself, let alone women, who in his eyes could have very well have been put on this planet to smile up at him topless from the pages of The Sun as if they’re selling pies, as opposed to material for men to masturbate to.

Simply the idea of this man being intimate with anything, let alone another human being, made me feel nauseous. Suddenly “Firework” had a whole new meaning. The way Katy Perry, like a foghorn, barks “BABY, I’m a firework” will now forever accompany the image of that one man’s depressing sexual conquest.

I wondered what the person on the other end of the phone must have been making of all of this. I’ve never had the kind of relationship with a person where talking openly about our sexual experiences with prostitutes has really been acceptable. Perhaps some of my friends do, on occasion, visit brothels, but if so, they’ve always refrained from telling me. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I think I’m happy being blissfully unaware.

Several months ago, I was asked to apply for a job by an employment agency for an admin position with a business calling themselves “Moulin Rouge Agency” that came with the disclaimer “PLEASE LOOK AT OUR WEBSITE BEFORE APPLYING”. When I looked, the website contained images of Moulin Rouge Agency’s finest “employees” in seductive poses and a list of things that they would and wouldn’t do with their clients. “A-Levels”, although sounding fairly innocent, isn’t it seems. And nor is “gorilla face”, I discovered after consulting the on-site glossary.

The line in the application that read, “must be able to handle themselves when dealing with clients” — presumably with some kind of shovel or metal bat – only further dissuaded me from applying.

While visiting the website I noted some of the prices “Moulin Rouge Agency” were charging. Interestingly, some of the prices were for things like dinner dates, which I couldn’t help thinking was one of the most awkward situations you could ever hope to get yourself into. The site specified two different prices for dinner dates: one for dinner dates outside of the brothel, which was the cheapest because it didn’t include the meal, and a price for dinner dates inside the brothel, which presumably included a delicious meal cooked up by the brothel’s house chef.

The brothel meal appeared to be very inexpensive, which possibly suggests that meal wasn’t so good. Ravioli on toast perhaps.

So there, I guess, you’d sit with your ravioli on toast in front of you, thinking of things to say to this woman that you’ve paid to have sex with.

“You, uh, look lovely, by the way,” you’ll say.

Oh, thank you. You, uh — you, too,” she’ll reply, hesitantly because you actually look awful.

“Thank you.”

Are those stains on your tracksuit bottoms?

“Yes. Many stains in this region. That ones chocolate, I think,” you’ll say.

Excellent,” she’ll say, politely.

“How’s the ravioli?” you’ll ask.

“It’s a bit cold, actually.”

“Yeah. Do you like that song, ‘Firework’?”

“No, I find Katy Perry’s music intolerable. I believe that only a complete moron could find her out of tune, overproduced caterwauling remotely listenable. Do you like it?

“Yes. I listen to it very loudly on the train. I think it makes me seem cool.”


“So, can I have sex with you now?”

“Uh, I guess so. You have paid.”

“Can I play Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ while I mount you?” you’ll ask.

No,” she’ll say.

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