After an ill-advised experiment with drugs, our sexual pioneer ends up in bed with a famous rugby player’s girlfriend

 

This month I want to tell you about the time I managed to have sex with the girlfriend of an international sportsman. But first – because the story also involves drugs – I am going to describe the most mind-bending trip I ever had. It took place near the eastern borders of Peru, in a region only accessible by canoe or seaplane. I was out there making a travel show and our local guide had arranged for us to trek into the jungle to meet a shaman, the South American equivalent of a witchdoctor. After a day on the river, we rowed into a small village. There were maybe ten huts there, a few pigs and a miserable, underfed dog. The shaman came to greet us, and after some negotiations he agreed to let us film a rare tribal ceremony.

Everyone else was given dinner to eat, but because I’d be taking part in the proceedings, I had to fast. Our guide was sketchy on the actual details of what lay ahead, but he did explain that I would be swallowing a potion called ayahuasca. Without access to a phone, we had no idea what effect this would have on a tubby westerner like me. When pressed, the guide would only say that he’d never taken it himself, but he’d heard that it “took the user on a voyage to see the face of God…” Well, that didn’t sound so bad. But then he added, “…in a canoe manned by demons.”

That night, we gathered in the largest hut and the shaman poured me a glass of brown liquid, as thick as melted chocolate. The director tried to find out what it consisted of but the shaman was cagey about his secrets. All we knew was that it had to be made from something out there in that dreadful forest. Frog poison? Tree bark? Snake droppings? I gulped it down in one. It tasted disgusting, and I told the guide to say that I felt like puking. After a spot of translation, he announced that this was good. “The shaman says you will vomit many times. And your bowels will be loosened over and over. It is the ayahuasca purging you. After that, you will receive a great insight.”

I was beginning to see why this particular hallucinogen hadn’t caught on in England. The “Madchester” scene wouldn’t have been quite the same if Ian Brown had barfed on the crowd at the Hacienda, or Bez had been famous for his crazy shitting. Sure enough, within twenty minutes I was perched over the makeshift lavatory, alternately having diarrhoea and heaving up my guts. Then the visions began.

From the corner of my eyes, animals began to leap into view. They were vague, ectoplasmic… a bit like the creature in the Predator movies. At first there were just a few of them, but then they came in swarms. A zoo of ghosts was jumping at my face. Sometimes they looked like cats, sometimes like insects. It was horrible. It was also unrelenting. For nearly five hours I cowered as the images attacked me, clawing at me even when I shut my eyes as tight as fists.

Finally, after feeling a great pain in my stomach, I was sick more copiously than before. A dozen bolts of vomit shot out of me in quick succession, each accompanied by a mournful croak. As I lay there on the floor, I remember being fascinated by how red my vomit was. I presumed there must be some stomach lining in there. It wouldn’t have surprised me. I was quite ready to die. At this point the shaman touched my shoulder. He spoke softly, and the guide translated. “He asks you, is it very good?” And there it was at last, my great insight. Given that I was covered in chunks of sick, was shivering like a malaria victim, smelled of shit and had eyes that were popping out on their stalks, I now knew, beyond any doubt, what the stupidest question in the world was.

I guess I should have seen it coming, because I’ve always been hopeless when it comes to drugs. Cocaine seems to make everyone else capable of having sex all night long, but with me it has the opposite effect. My penis shrinks. After just a couple of lines, it really does telescope backwards, until all that’s left is a wrinkled nubbin of foreskin. It looks a bit like a miniature Walnut Whip. Similarly, on the one occasion I took ecstasy at a party, I didn’t feel so much horny as thirsty. I spent most of the night next to the kitchen tap, and for all the thrills it gave me I might as well have paid £15 for a packet of Saxa.

But it was plain old spliff that gave me my second most awful drug experience. I was semi-dating this pretty blonde girl who had a bit of the flower child about her. She had a statue of Buddha in her flat, smoked a lot of puff and had been to Goa three times. It seemed a harmless enough eccentricity, especially as she didn’t give me any shit about eating red meat or not bothering to recycle bottles. She was also an excellent bed partner. And not just the bed, either – once, walking back from the pub across Wandsworth Common, she climbed onto the low branch of a tree and invited me to penetrate her there.

It was clearly impossible, but we ended up underneath it, with me entering her busily from behind while the traffic sped along Trinity Road, not ten yards away. Of course, I smoked with her sometimes, and that was pretty much okay. On a good night, it would intensify my nerve endings and give a sensual rhythm to our thrustings; at worst, I’d get a slight headache. The relationship was just as trouble-free. We got along fine, but both realised there was no real future in it. As a result, we soon drifted into being ‘fuck buddies’, popping round to see each other for sex once a month, but free to see other lovers.

And so it was that one evening I turned up at her flat with a cheap bottle of Rioja and a video. We were on the sofa and just getting to that stage where cuddles become foreplay when the phone rang. I could tell from her tone of voice that it wasn’t good news. After hanging up she said, “God, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave. The guy I’ve been seeing is on his way over.” “I could hide in the cupboard.” She pushed me towards the door, away from the warm comfy sofa and the glass of wine. “Just go. Call me later.”

Well, I did go. But not very far. Intrigued as to what her new boyfriend looked like, I watched her doorway from the bushes on the other side of the road. Within twenty minutes, a yellow sports car pulled up to the kerb. A large black guy got out of it. He had a bald head and a neck like a tree trunk. I recognised him instantly. He was Victor Ubogu, the prop forward of the England rugby team. Oh God. I had been intending to tease her about her choice of lover when I next saw her, but Victor was an undeniable alpha male. He was famous, he drove a Lotus, and there was no question that he could rip my arms and legs from their sockets with his bare hands. And then there was the deeper anxiety, the fear of the African cock. (Actually, I feel this about pretty much every racial group, even the Japanese, but it is of course far worse in the case of black men.) How could I compete?

I must feel like a matchstick by comparison. I slunk off to the bus stop, defeated. Naturally, she had a good laugh about this when I saw her the next Friday. She said men worried too much about it. But I wouldn’t settle for that and badgered her until I had the full, devastating details. Yes, he was bigger than me. Yes, he was good in bed. I groaned. To cheer me up, she cooked dinner and rolled a fat joint. I smoked it sullenly.

But oddly enough, it was wonderful. It must have been a specially fine batch of weed, the marijuana version of caviar or Krug, because instead of moping, I began to make jokes about his cock size. I went round the flat picking up absurdly large objects and raising my eyebrows in a questioning way. The rolling pin? A baguette? A poster tube? Soon enough, we went giggling to bed for a romp, and the fear of not being as good as him disappeared.

Unfortunately, so did the dope. When we woke at noon the next day, we both felt a hungover craving for more spliff. So while I lounged in bed, she went out to buy the papers and visit “the man”. By the time she returned, my day was shaping up nicely. Grandstand was showing the Five Nations rugby from Wales. It would be delightful. I could watch Victor on the TV while lying under the duvet with his girlfriend. He would be rucking for the ball in Cardiff, I would be fumbling with her tits in Wandsworth. Given that the match was live, it would be the most risk-free cuckolding ever.

She skinned up and climbed in beside me. The joint tasted a bit stronger than before, but I inhaled greedily. Then, with the crowd’s singing and Nigel Starmer-Smith as an accompaniment, we got down to it. Only something was wrong. My brain seemed to keep shorting out. It was like I had a kaleidsocope instead of eyes. I was seeing everything in fractals. “Er… is this different dope?” I asked her. She looked up. “Yeah, he mentioned that. Said it might be a tad stronger.”

A tad? I couldn’t feel my teeth! Abandoning any romantic notions, I scuttled into the bathroom and splashed water on my face. I couldn’t feel that now either. Panicking, I ran a cold shower and stood under the icy jet, hoping it would put things right. The next thing I knew I was staring at the white enamel of the bathtub. Only it seemed to be sideways on. What weirdness was this? Slowly, I worked it out. I had fainted and smacked into the tub.

That would also explain the thick cut on my forehead and the blood all over my face. When I went back into the bedroom it got worse. Sudddenly, I had a freaky paranoia that Victor was going to jump through the screen and attack me. God knows, he was doing a pretty good job of beating me up already, and he wasn’t even in the same fucking country. My heart began to pump dramatically, like Jim Carrey’s in The Mask. Thump! Thump! Thump! I thought it was going to jump out of my chest…

At Casualty, the nurse took one look at me and rushed me to a cubicle. A doctor examined me, then hooked me up to a drip. This was it. I was going to peg out like Keith Moon and John Belushi. Only I’d managed it on a quid’s worth of grass. That was pretty much it for drugs and me. Oddly enough though, I did run into Victor later on in the ’90s, at a bar he ran in Fulham. He turned out to be a very nice fellow, so I was bold enough to tell him this story. He took it very well, and he even gave me a piece of advice that I’ve followed ever since. Stick to wine.