I have this thing that I say to ladies in the first instance of my squiring them – oh and if, by the way, and it’s entirely possible, you are a lady who ever plans on getting squired off me, then please do pay especially close attention, here, because in the long run it will save us both a lot of time – and that I say is this: ”listen, if it is going to go that way, I am just telling you now that I am not going to be taking any bras off. If you want to be showing me your titties then that is fine, that is an okay thing, but I will not be in anyway mechanically involved in their unveiling. That is your deal.”
Because bras man, fuck ‘em. They might look great when draped on the floor or looped on a door handle, all sexy straplettes and impractical cups, but other than that they are a hindrance. A sexy hurdle. And they have these fucking hooks in the back that you have the spend like five minutes snapping and unsnapping, your tongue jabbing thoughtfully out of the corner of your mouth, your eyes rolling along the ceiling as you try to figure out, spatially, how to get this titty padlock undone, a routine which, I’ve found, never ever fails to just completely puncture the mood.
Here are some solutions, bra industry, that you may have for free: i. how about, if you insist on using tiny hooks as a means of entry, having them in the front? I can deal with front-hooks all day long. I could unclip front hooks like I was playing a piano. ; ii. this is the future, bra industry. Why have you not developed some sort of spray-on gel bra that I can peel off like some sort of structural facemask, and also, while we’re at it, where is my hoverboard? and iii. Velcro. Velcro. VELCRO.
 obviously hooks is not quite the point, though, because name one other thing ever in the world that uses tiny hooks and eyelets the way bras do and tell me we’re using technology effectively to hold up our collective tits.
I suppose my main beef with bras is that being a cool guy who can snap their sex-latches like dry twigs takes doing and practise, the former of which I am unwilling and the latter I have had insufficient recourse to do. What I am saying is: I, personally, do not have the honed finger dexterity required to operate a bra, and the person I blame for this – not myself, no – I blame: sex education in this country.
See, here is the thing, sex education in this country: you’re a little girl-centric. I get it, though, I do – obviously if a sex goes awry  then it’s the ladies who, as a result, balloon and lactate and whose lives and genitals are most especially affected by it, yes – but while you were ushering the giggled masses of 14-year-old girls into some secret room to point at a pull-down diagram of a uterus while enunciating “men-stroo-aye-shun” and getting them to put johnnies on cucumbers – which by the way i. is just a complete waste of time because I’ve never once met a lady who gets involved in the actual donning of the wellies and ii. RAISES EXPECTATIONS, SOMEWHAT   – but when all this is happening, in darkly lit and secret rooms  dotted around the school, normally on a Tuesday morning, by the way, them [gals] being hauled collectively out of otherwise useless PSE classes, us boys were left to fend. We were not given similar lessons in the specifics of our own balls. We were not warned about the hair we would soon be emitting. We had nary a public service video about not getting ran over by trains. We just sat there, glumly, scouring our names into our desks and seeing how tight we could wrench our school ties.
 I should probably mention here that it is possible to have a planned baby, yes, I concede that, but nobody I know most especially myself is anywhere near being responsible enough or plain un-chaotic enough to, yet. What I am saying is: I have enough to worry about getting my Fantasy Football changes done in time for 11:30AM on a Saturday and getting my fringe to sit straight without having a tiny shouting version of myself sat shitting and demanding I be a real adult.
 This is exactly how I imagined those things did go, girls, although feel free to correct me via your preferred correspondence
 I mean come on. I don’t want to have to be the guy who admits this on the Internet, but: my own personal Johnston is nowhere near the size or juddering proportions of a cucumber.
 this is not a metaphor, no
Here is where you have missed an opportunity, Sex Education In This Country, and in doing so you have let me down and you’ve let any ladies I have rocked it to down: get a marionette in there. Get a shop doll, and truss it up with a bra. Suspenders even, maybe. Then, in that errant hour while the girls are sliding tampons into vinyl approximations of their own workings, let us have at it. Set up a leader table on the blackboard and add a competitive element to proceedings. See who can grapple a bra off a lifeless bird in the shortest time, learning as we go.
We did not, however, grapple a bra off a lifeless bird in the shortest time, learning as we went, but it was while not doing this once that I was treated to one of the undoubted highlights of my life. One Tuesday, the boys, of whose number I did and still do count myself, the whole of Year 8, in fact, boy-wise, were ushered from our collective form rooms and assembled in a science lab big enough to accommodate us. Up front, silently glowering, were three of the most savage and disciplinarian members of the Senior Management Team. We were: in trouble, here. Someone had done a bad one. Not one of the two hundred assembled boys honked on a gas tap or attempted even one iota of a wedgy. The only noise was the squeaking of stools on linoleum. I’m setting the scene here, by the way.
What it transpired had happened, by way of a well-rehearsed three-way monologue, peppered with careful marching and disappointed expressions, was this: a New Kid, who had started the previous day, had made it abundantly clear that he was from Cardiff, which, apparently, despite nothing even approaching geographical relevance, was a hated football rival. Who knew? Well, apparently The New Kid did.
Now, I’ve never been a new kid – my parents loved me enough not to move cross-country during my formative years – but if I did, my first-day tactic would be ‘damage limitation.’ If forced to get up in front of the class I would say something along the lines of “hello I am Joel and I like just normal stuff, like shoes and biscuits,” and then I would sit down. I would hope, and this is me being optimistic, that some under-appreciated nerd kid would latch on to me and I would finally be the best friend he had always wanted. If I got home and could proudly tell my Mum “yes, I got through the day without having my head shoved down the toilet or killed,” I would treat that as a success.
I would not do nor would I advise anyone do what this idiot kid did, which was: parade in front of a row of upper year boys, while they were smoking cigarettes and developing their thousand-yard stares in anticipation for an inevitable prison spell, and shouting: “NYAH NYAH NYAH, CHESTERFIELD ARE SHIT!” while swinging my tie around my head like a helicopter with one arm and intimating a trumpet with another. I just would not do that. That is not a thing I would do.
“What these boys did –“ said Mr. Jefferson, who was a dick, by the way, and was one of the Three managerial Musketeers who were delivering our bollocking “— what these boys did – and they’re in this room! – was despicable. It was not in the spirit of [my school]. And NOT ONE OF YOU is LEAVING until we have found out WHO did this. And we can stay here all day—“
“— but Sir!”
“WE WILL NOT LEAVE THIS ROOM!” said Mr. Oswald, who had be tagged in to the telling off by Mr. Jefferson and was also a dick, a mondo, mondo dick, “NOBODY LEAVES THIS ROOM UNTIL WE GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS!” They were pretty mad.
Turns out that trumpeting about how good Cardiff City are at football does not exactly endear you to the population of [my school]. It does get your tie stuffed in your mouth; it gets you grabbed by six just insanely mad kids who have had to interrupt their fag break for this perfunctory bit of intimidation; it does get you dragged onto the playing fields in the middle of lunch-time, while tiny breakout games of cuppies are halted in awe, and it does get you, to a cacophony of cheers, tied to a goalpost.
“We do not know which one of you boys have been bringing ROPE into school but it will now be CONFISCATED.”
Turns out that, after being tied to a goalpost at circa 12:45PM, you won’t actually be discovered until the first PE lesson of the afternoon at 2PM, by which time you will have despairingly wet yourself. It also turned out whichever kid bought rope in really knew how to tie knots, seeing as they had to cut him free. They had to send a dinner lady to the workshops for a Stanley knife, and she bought it back with that wobbly and uneasy run middle-aged women do in panics.
Mr. Burden, who was not a dick but had terrible, broken Paul Weller hair, took up the mantel, with his hushed, good-cop tones, for the final flourish. “These boys humiliated this young man. He’s had a most unwelcome first day, and his Mother is quite rightly not happy. They’ve embarrassed him. They’ve bullied him. They’ve tied him to a goalpost –“
“And – “ said Mr. Jefferson, the dick, leaning in with a triumphant moustachioed grin across his leering, dick-y face, a serious and threatening finality in his gruff, dick-like voice, “— and:
—they stole his socks.”
If you’ve ever been in a room full of 13-year-old boys in that perfect, silent second right before a storm of laughter erupts out of them, as they fight the insides of their own mouths shut, while they stare forward with glossy, joyous eyes, and just before that first bristling snigger brings down an inevitable avalanche of guffaws, you will know how perfect that moment was.