Friday, September 30, 2005

Wanking Club: The Rise and Fall

Wanking Club: The Rise and Fall

The first of rule of Wanking Club - ….oh, you know how it goes.

And you just know there’s going to be woe in the last paragraph, simply because they broke the first rule. They wouldn’t bloody well shut up about Wanking Club.

And at last the truth can be told. Only the names have been changed. And the facts.

If there’s one thing about adolescent schoolboys (not to mention large numbers of male adults), it’s an almost overwhelming pre-occupation with matters sexual. In most cases, this finds some sort of outlet in the shape of female company, or better still, with some nice, healthy outdoor pursuit where the subject is too busy swinging from tree-to-tree to notice strange hairs growing round his swonnicles.

In other unfortunate cases, however, the subject is forced into a life of onanism, where the only place hair is growing is on the palms of the hands. And with access to stimulatory literature barred to all but the most enterprising, the poor teenage male is often forced into a life of furtive shuffles to the lingerie pages of mail order catalogues. And once this fascination is exhausted, the youth may pass into adulthood, quietly, without fuss, or the ridicule of his peers.

And so, certain contemporaries of mine decided that what they really needed from life was some sort of clubhouse where they could quite literally come together and wank themselves senseless. A Wanking Club, as it were.

They chose the school darkroom. Already with its own seedy history, thanks to a roll of negatives left lying in a drawer featuring the object of our youthful desires – the curvaceous Miss Shagwell – in various states of undress, the Wanking Club members would shame the genuine school photographic society even further with their own homo-erotic fumblings. Mack, already a photographic society member was allowed a key to the darkroom, and abused his privilege with after-school self-abuse.

There were at least a dozen Wanking Club members, the majority of whom had absolutely no interest in photography outside the layout of the latest copy of Fiesta or Escort to fall into their hands.

I was, and I cannot make this point any clearer, not a member of Wanking Club. However, and I’m sure you’ll excuse the double entendre, they were an enormous pain in the arse.

There’s nothing worse, when you’re trying to get the exposure right on a nice picture of a train (Class 47 Brush, belting along the GWR mainline to Bristol. Not that I’d know that kind of thing, you understand), than hearing the words “Is it hard yet?”. Actually there is – it’s having access to the sink blocked at a vital moment in developing your work, stumbling around in the darkness, by some teen pervert going “Oooh, I must have done PINTS”, whilst washing his bell-end all over your entry for the school photographic competition.

You could have light-sensitive photographic paper strewn all over the place, or just be popping a roll of freshly exposed film out of its light-proof container – “Engaged – DO NOT ENTER” sign hanging on the door, and a huge red light telling approaching idoits to bugger off - when the door would burst open and some teenage pervert would appear fumbling with his zipper, and a copy of the morning’s Sun newspaper already opened at page three.

It was enough to drive us speccy, keeno, after-school club going freaks to do something, and do something pretty bloody radical. Like say, “Damn” under our breath.

But Wanking Club’s very enthusiasm for the art of the hand shandy proved to be their downfall, especially if, from what I could hear, some weren't very good at it.

"Am I... am I doing this right?"

They were doomed to exposure from the very start. What they had failed to realise in their misguided homo-erotic lust, was that the school darkroom was situated next door to the staff room.

The entire building was constructed in the late 1970s out of the cheapest materials available, and only a thin layer of cardboard and chicken wire separated the conflict between photographers and masturbators from the adults who thought they ran the school. Thanks to this quirk of the architecture – and rather like Wren’s Whispering Gallery in St Paul’s Cathedral – the entire school faculty could hear every word spoken next door.

“Derek! I’m coming!”

“Fuck off and get your own tits!”

“Pass the ruler.”

Doomed from the start.

The bust was quick and brutal in its shaming of the perpetrators, led from their den, trousers round their ankles like a prison work gang in manacles. A stash of pornography was discovered in a cardboard box marked "Mack's Mags - Get Youre Own", and that filled the bin in one go. A crack squad of cleaners was sent in to fumigate the entire room, and a McCarthyite hearing was set up, in which the camera club was eventually exonerated.

There were no detentions, lines or useless jobs round the school. There was far, far worse. The letter home. For shame.

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