Percy Filth is a term my mum uses whenever sex raises its head on TV. I can remember, very clearly (or maybe it’s a dream… I’ve not been able to confirm it) being in our living room in Lodge Lane, Warrington, some time in the 1970s. In fact, it would have been in 1976, or a year or two later. So I’d have been around seven years old. There was a play on television, and my mum and dad were watching it. I was watching it too, because Elisabeth Sladen was in it. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but because it was Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor‘s erstwhile assistant, I’d had my head turned. It was turned again before the end of the play, when her on-screen partner helped her out of her nightdress. Sarah Jane was showing off her ‘busters’, as we used to refer to them at school. ‘Percy Filth,’ Mum said. Quite right. Anyway, if there’s someone out there who can confirm that I did see this and I’m not going mad, I’d appreciate it.
I’ve hit a point in the novel – about half-way – where I have to write an explicit sex scene. I’ve known this for a long time. I meant it to be at the middle of the book, a critical pivot in terms of plot, and decided I was going to devote an entire chapter to it. I’m not squeamish when it comes to writing sex scenes, as anybody who has read my fiction will know; I think that horror fiction works well when the characters are at their most vulnerable, and there aren’t many more vulnerable moments than when one is in flagrento. But it’s still a challenge. Comedy is never far away from a sex scene, especially one that is intended to be serious, intense, weird and frightening.
A writer friend of mine once gave me a little present, a red, plastic computer key with the word ‘PANIC‘ on it. You were meant to stick it to your computer monitor, or keyboard, and hit it when you wandered into difficult fictional territory. I could do with one now. Wish me luck. Oh, and my friend? He stuck his to the bedpost…
Listening to: Until We Felt Red, by Kaki King (one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard)