The former Erotic Review magazine editor answers your sex questions…
QUESTION: I’m a bit of a nature girl and have always liked the idea of making love outdoors, in a forest or field, but my boyfriend is quite inhibited and always behaved like I’ve suggested we have sex in the shop window of John Lewis when I suggest the idea. How can I bring him round?
ROWAN SAYS: How timely that this arrived in my inbox during one of the loveliest springs of recent years.
There’s a traditional English ditty that goes: ‘Hurrah hurrah the first of May/ outdoor rutting starts today.’ And it’s true that for many people the verdant glory of the British countryside acts as a powerful aphrodisiac. It’s not just the rising sap, it’s the song of courting birds and those tempting beds of moss.
Al fresco sex has a long and proud tradition. The historic overcrowding of rural labourers’ cottages meant that many a baby was conceived outdoors, and just think of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, where nature provides a metaphor for the lovers’ sexual release.
But, of course, for a different cast of character the notion of al fresco sex is mortifying.
The thought of bright sunlight exposing every flaw of your gleaming white body is enough to make any shy person wither. Then there’s the fear that a twitcher’s long lens might target your rump.
For some people, the very thought of bracken or long grass and the insects they harbour is anathema. In celeb land, the outdoor act of love also arouses polarised opinions.
Earlier this year Amanda Holden told a gawping world that she and her husband, Chris Hughes, had had sex in a forest near Maidenhead while ‘wearing pink cowboy boots’.
Jennifer Ellison, meanwhile, says: ‘I’m too scared to have sex outdoors – I’d be paranoid about CCTV cameras catching me and ending up on Crimewatch.’
For some exhibitionist types, the risk of getting caught is precisely what gives al fresco sex its frisson. I know one couple who made love in a London park; the woman sitting astride her spouse as he lounged against a tree and her long peasant skirt concealed the nature of their intimacy.
The legality, or otherwise, of having sex outdoors taxes some people. British law does not, in fact, as some believe, criminalise all al fresco sex, it all depends on the circumstances.
I remember hearing about a middle-aged couple, both accountants, who got carried away on a car bonnet in Hampstead and were discovered, and cautioned, by the police.
But if you’re sensible, not to mention sensitive to other people, and make sure you stray far from the beaten track, then all should be well.
A friend of mine swears by cemeteries. She finds the proximity of death an erotic stimulant. Others I know would find this deeply disrespectful to the dead.
To romp or not to romp: Amanda Holden, left, said she had sex with her husband in a forest near Maidenhead ‘wearing pink cowboy boots’ whereas Jennifer Ellison said she’s be terrified of being caught on CCTV
Whatever your choice of location, the question remains how you can persuade your reluctant boyfriend to your cause.
I can’t promise you success in this matter. There’s a reason why people talk about British reserve. It would be unwise to unnerve your man with too much rhetoric.
You need to create the ideal circumstances in which his more spontaneous side can express itself. With British men, that generally involves alcohol. Why don’t you assemble a seductive picnic and lead him to a secluded spot – again, I stress the need to avoid upsetting passers-by – where you can lay out a picnic blanket, food and the requisite amount of wine or beer.
Don’t make any amorous moves until he’s fully relaxed. With luck, he won’t have time to fear WI members on a nature trail and will succumb to the beauty of the place and sensuality of the moment.
If you choreograph all this and he still freezes up then I think you may have to admit defeat. If you browbeat him about this area of reserve, you may well find he becomes more inhibited in less threatening situations. Some people simply need the sanctuary of their bedstead to unfurl properly.