#14 OM ugh

OM stands for Orgasmic meditation.


There are OM classes locally (around Bristol and world-wide) that couples can attend.

OM is a meditation, equally powerful for both partners — only the object of focus is the clitoris.


Women lay down, supported by men and OM branded pillows in the church hall/community centre and have their clitorii massaged. Collectively.

When I heard of this, I was disturbed for a number of reasons. Call me a prude, but never has it occurred to me to take my girlfriend out to meet a bunch of strangers and massage her clitoris. I thought that was called dogging. It’s not really crossed my mind to meet up with friends and do it, either.

I’m not against the idea of people engaging with their sexuality to enhance their relationships and sense of self- these are clearly good things. If I felt that something was up in that department, I would definitely want to sort it out.

My negative reactions are based on:

1. The sense that there seems to be a growing consensus that doing your washing in public is not only a good thing, but also intrinsically beneficial/therapeutic.

2. That sex is being turned into a commodity again. That people’s insecurities/dysfunctions are valuable income streams.

Let’s look at 1 first.

When I discussed the public nature of the sessions with my girlfriend (purely in the name of research, things are very nice between us, thanks), she suggested that this group exposure of your intimacy could lead to banishing any damaging, dysfunctional feelings that sex is a dirty, sinful thing. A process akin to confession or an enema. This has some credibility, particularly in British society where we are supposed to be repressed in these matters. However, I would suggest that there is something sexy about naughtiness, that transgression is a turn-on.

What is possibly more concerning is the assumption that doing something in public makes it transformative. Are we to imagine that the adulterous wife baring all to Jerry Springer and the cameras is necessarily changed? Most participants seem to lack the decency to find the process embarrassing, so how far is it likely that they have the moral imagination to move forward from the experience? Put another way, what is to be gained by wanking your missus off in front of an audience, even if they aren’t supposed to be looking? Not having been to an OMing session (sorry for my lack of professionalism, I just don’t want to), I’m not able to say what the demographic is, but there must be a certain amount of exhibitionism going on. The sort of purple-wearing,wholesome folk who might hover on the fringe of a wife-swapping sesh. More linseedy than seedy.

Surely, focussed, reactive counselling from a genuinely qualified practitioner coupled with an honest commitment to personal growth might be a more productive way to overcome sexual anxieties.

2. Take a look at this:


According to the OM shop, Orgasmic Meditation (OM) requires supplies. You’d be best advised to spend $184.97 on various cushions, otherwise sold as The Signature OM Kit. If you’re feeling less flush, you really should fork out $29.99 on that Strokers kit, because clearly Every stroker needs a strokers kit. Worryingly, I have dabbled with a bit of stroking myself, without the kit. Now that I’m better informed, I realise how inadequate this has been. I will get tooled up with: 1 Strokers Bag, 1 OneStroke Lube (full-size), 3 OM Towels 3 Vinyl Glove Sets. How many of these can they have sold?

I have a friend who used to run marketing workshops for companies looking to advertise their products in more engaging, leftfield ways- he called these sessions Quirkshops. I have a tip for those entrepeneurs looking to gain a broader market share for OM. Be honest. Re-brand, and call OM experiences what they really are: Jerkshops.

#13 Stornaway

Somehow, it’s was always with a sense of slight embarrassment that I used to like bands like Stornaway (and previously…Mumford & Sons). It’s nothing to do with their lack of accomplishment as musicians; both bands are characterised by interesting arrangements and intelligent, poetic lyrics. Or is it anything to do with the fact that last year they were on trend. It’s more the feeling that both bands were formed out of- shall we say- comfortable backgrounds. Not that a comfortable background is a bad thing (it’s not as if they had a choice in the matter), I come from a not dissimilar background. It just seems that both bands are woven from the same, organic cloth of new-folk/vintage. Several of the men (they are all men) in their bands wear intriguing moustaches; they all exude a non-threatening bon-homie. twatsI can confirm this. At last Thursday’s gig in Bath, Stornaway‘s front-man had several mildly amusing anecdotes. These came in handy in winning over the crowd, because his band had come on half an hour late. They also treated us to several mid-show sound-checks and pauses. The anecdotes were some of the most memorable parts of the evening. I’ve already forgotten one of them.

I’d booked tickets for the gig some months back. There are two or three Stornaway tracks that I like, one of which I really like. Here comes the blackout is a song I’d immediately admired when I first came across it five or six years ago, when I’d encountered it on MySpace. Then, Eric Matador was the nom-de-plume of the lead singer, Brian Briggs. Brian’s voice can be extremely clear, piercing yet sweet. At the right pitch- somewhere in the high tenor register, he regularly hits his sweet spot and lifts a tune into something nearly rapturous. It can seem effortless. Certainly, his lack of effort was very much evident at tonight’s gig. The band spent most of their one hour on stage farting out pop-y, uninteresting shit from their latest album. I would say that 60% of what they played was of the same standard as your average 90’s top ten single

I can’t remember what their first song was. I wasn’t anticipating being motivated to write about the gig in advance. Whatever it was, the only moment worth recording was that it involved the least perceptably useful member of the band whacking an already shredded tin djembe inaudibly and for no conspicuous reason. Daft, pretentious and musically pointless. Not exactly a win.

That the band thought this was a good idea does not exactly commend their good sense. If you were to put their lyrical output through a computer for vocabulary/parsing analysis, it might produce data like this:

Modal phrases

your blue eyes, conkers shining, Atlantic ocean, mermaid fellating a flute (last one made up)

This bucolic-nautical fixation provides both their initial point of interest and subsequent descent to tedious triteness. Tellingly, the same malaise befell my relationship with Mumford. It’s alright, I’ve moved on. Their very best song, Here comes the blackout, is a genuinely enigmatic song. Its homely percussion line (chopping vegetables, apparently), and sparse, acoustic arrangement are combined with a dark-edged, contemporary terror-threat metaphor that gave the impression that there is/was a genus of brilliance in this group. It’s not conspicuous in many other of their songs