A Mutually Satisfying Agreement With A Like-Minded Individual
Warning: contains explicit content, all of which has been mandated by the Dutch government.
Towards the end of last week I spotted a story in the Guardian about how the Dutch had revised their advice about sex under Coronavirus, suggesting that single people get themselves a "seksbuddy" (translation unnecessary). The official guidance, continues the Guardian, "has been amended to suggest those without a permanent sexual partner come to mutually satisfactory agreements with like-minded individuals".
If I were capable of coming to a mutually satisfactory agreement with a like-minded individual, I wouldn't be single, but never mind, further digging reveals that the Dutch government has a lot more advice to share about how to have sex when you can't actually have sex. This is their actual list of suggested sexual activities that can be undertaken at a distance of more than 1.5m apart:
Masturbation: sex with yourself
Masturbation with someone else. Stay at least 1.5m apart.
Sexting or phone sex with, for example, apps, short films or audio (but don't share films or photos without the other person's consent)
Sexting with a group via, for example, Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams
Read erotic books or magazines
Make an erotic podcast
One-to-one masturbation show
Sex with a remote-controlled vibrator
Somewhere, Bill Gates is wondering what the hell he did to get Microsoft Teams dragged into this (seriously, are there two words in the English language less sexy than Microsoft Teams?) while Houseparty and Google Meet fire their PRs. Meanwhile I am fascinated by the instruction to "read erotic books or magazines" but "make an erotic podcast". Nobody is suggesting that you might want to write your own erotic book, but horny Dutch singletons everywhere are being encouraged to take to the airwaves with their home-made erotic podcasts. Nor is it suggested that you might want to listen to an erotic podcast, because the Dutch are getting real with you: nobody is going to listen to your erotic podcast. But go ahead and make one all the same. Honestly, "make an erotic podcast" might be my favourite piece of advice from the entire pandemic. Stay alert. Stay at home. Make an erotic podcast.
The official Dutch Covid sex Q&A page has entire sections devoted to 'can I have sex with someone other than my regular partner?' (the given answer is no - the Dutch government hasn't contemplated the possibility that the person other than your regular partner that you want to have sex with might be a member of your household, even though this is surely going to be the plot of a lot of soap operas in the near future), 'can I get Covid from fellatio, cunnilingus, fingering or hand jobs?' (amazingly, Google translates the word for hand jobs as 'subtraction' - a characteristically unappealing euphemism from a language in which the direct translation of pubic hair is 'shame hair' and female genitalia is 'shame lips' and male genitalia is nothing shameful at all) and 'is there an increased risk of contracing Covid in a sex sauna?' to which the answer is yes, and also, my god, who wants to go to a sex sauna during a pandemic? (Apparently they are closed anyway until May 20th, which, by happy coincidence, is today - happy sex sauna day everyone!)
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the closest that Matt Hancock has been able to get to mentioning sex is to tell a press conference that nobody will be able to share a "social hug" until there's a vaccine. Social hugging, yes, that is a real thing that we are all jonesing for, Matt Hancock. As a point of reference, they have been trying for eight years to make a vaccine for SARS with no success, so buy a microphone everyone, it's podcast time.