What could possibly have shocked The Amorist's lovely bondage expert, Rebecca Newman, at the magazine's first Reader Event in London's Piccadilly? She and fellow fabulous columnists, Dolly Alderton and Cosmo Landesman (pictured below with editor Rowan Pelling, left), were debating 'Four Things I Know about Sex' in front of a packed audience at the Herrick Gallery.
The throng was well disposed to amusement after a tasting of several fine burgundies provided by Mischief and Mayhem (www.mischiefandmayhem.com) in which they were guided by the discerning and knowledgeable palate of British chef, Rowley Leigh.
While Dolly inspired the twenty somethings in the audience never to fake orgasm, Cosmo was lyrical about how sex gets better with age. Rebecca invited everyone to return to the old-fashioned pre-digital pleasures of actually touching each other, rather than getting kicks online.
Perhaps the picture displays her surprise, like that of the Amorist, when publisher James Pembroke played a treasured recording of Jayne Mansfield reading a poem by sixteenth century poet Robert Herrick (the Amorist is convinced he's an ancestor of the gallery's founder: artist and curator Alice Herrick.)
To his Mistress, Objecting to him neither Toying or Talking
You say I love not, 'cause I doe not play
Still with your curles, and kisse the time away.
You blame me too, because I cann't devise
Some sport, to please those Babies in your eyes:
By Loves Religion, I must here confesse it,
The most I love, when I the least expresse it.
Small griefs find tongues: Full Casques are ever found
To give (if any, yet) but little sound.
Deep waters noyse-less are; And this we know,
That chiding streams betray small depth below.
So when Love speechless is, she doth expresse
A depth in love, and that depth bottomlesse.
Now since my love is tongue-less, know me such,
Who speak but little, 'cause I love so much.
Or she might simply have been struck, mid-disquisition on the delights of BDSM, by a painting in the current exhibition, aptly themed 'True Love', by handsome artist Dan Llewellyn Hall (above), who was in the audience. The Amorist's favourites were:
'What Goes On Amongst Those Lights', above, and Mermaid, below.
It's possible, of course, that Rebecca had just heard the result of The Amorist's own 'Erection vote', to find the country's sexiest political candidate. The winner was lovely Nick Clegg (LibDem) - but 'best bum' sadly didn't keep him his seat in Sheffield Hallam.
Chuka Ummunna (Lab, below), fared better, retaining his majority as MP for Streatham in South London, as well as second place in readers' hearts.
It's always good to have a secret passion, and this turned out to be Emily Thornberry (Lab, Islington South and Finsbury), who was discovered to possess the most arousing and provocative voice in Parliament.
Finally, showing that Amoristas' erotic persuasions are firmly cross-party, Jacob Rees-Mogg (Cons, NE Somerset) took a stern (please!) fourth place.
Returning to ravishing Rebecca, normally so unshockable – perhaps that first photograph simply shows her surprise and delight at finding so many ways of expressing love and desire in one room: from wine, painting and poetry to witty stories told by our finest writers. For this Amorist at least, laughter is the greatest aphrodisiac. We can only hope for a well hung parliament.
I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy. I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die.
Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet, 1846