Why Ann Summers' Halloween and Christmas kink is just another way of policing your sex life

If you walk past Ann Summers' shop window at the moment, you’ll get the distinct impression that, even if it’s cold as a witch’s tit outside, you can have a hot Halloween in the boudoir. So why does none of it actually feel that much fun?

In the countryside, it’s easy to tell what time of year it is because of how the sheep are crying. Late winter: crying because they’re giving birth. Late summer: crying because their lambs have been removed for slaughter. Rest of the time: just crying because they’re sheep and they don’t know what else to do. In the city, though, you have to look for different signs to mark the rhythm of life, and you’ll find those signs in the window of Ann Summers.

Whatever the festival, Ann Summers has a sexy get up to get you up for it. Right now that means that if you walk past the shop window, you’ll get the distinct impression that, even if it’s cold as a witch’s tit outside, you can have a hot Halloween in the boudoir. All you need to do is invest in the correct confection of underwiring and lace scraps, and you could be trick or treating your way to ecstasy.

And it’s not just All Hallows’ Eve that you can mark with some themed penetration. For Christmas, you can dress up as a Sexy Santa or Santa’s Little Helper. Either one, I imagine, feels just as exciting after a day’s slog in the kitchen followed by a turkey feast topped off with a heavy evening at the cheese board: what could be sexier, after all the planning and sweating, than yet more heavily planned sweating with your Celebrations-distended midriff framed between a red suspender skirt and Mrs Claus’ fur-trimmed balconette?

The Easter display generally consists of bunny girl-alike costumes and shopfront-appropriate allusions to the erogenous zone-busting vibrator known as the Rampant Rabbit. None of this calendar-appropriate kink feels like all that much fun, to be honest. For all the sexiness on show, you might as well tape two small fluffy wireframe chicks to your nipples as pasties and coat your mons in a melted Easter egg.

The Ann Summers window displays are, I’m sure, supposed to be cheekily charming. What they feel like instead is one more harrying item on the bloody to-do list: carve the pumpkin, make the costumes for the kids if you have any (no, they won’t be happy as a ghost), run to the corner shop for extra Haribo in case the trick-or-treaters come and then – then, when you’ve done all that! – slip into something mildly demonic for a bit of Satan-stirring action.

Sex is a delightful thing. Dressing up too. But the leery gaze of the mass retail sex shop window is only asking you to see the insufficiencies in yourself and your relationships: are you getting enough, and is what you’re getting sufficiently kinky? Maybe you should have more, or kinkier? And whether it’s Christmas, Easter or Halloween, wouldn’t right now be the perfect time to spring your newly accessorised libido on your partner? Like the drone of an overloud vibrator, the hum of contrived dissatisfaction drives into your bed and makes you think: maybe if I bought that erotic goop, that gadget, that scrap of eyelets and satin, maybe then I could be having all the sex I’m supposed to be having?

The amount you’re supposed to be having is, of course, the amount that makes you happy – give or take some adjustment for the happiness of whoever you’re in a relationship with. There is no “enough times a year/week/night” figure that would allow you to declare yourself empirically satisfied – and even if there were, the adult toy vendors and the push-up pushers and the massage-oil slickers wouldn’t want you to know what it is. They just want you to want more, so you’ll buy more. There are companies whose business is in telling you you’re not getting all the pleasure you need. Don’t listen to them: your pleasure lies in knowing when you’ve got just the amount of business you want.

Ann Summers even has a display for National Nurses' Day. Image: Getty

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.

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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism