The day Ann Summers came to play

Ann Summers is a chain of relatively innocuous erotic stores found in most major cities across Britain. The shops are quite modest, with nothing more exciting than the more average of their underwear ranges in the windows. Inside things don't get much better, a few saucy outfits, a range of vaguely comical sex toys and a series of novelty gifts only slightly seedier than British Home Stores. Nothing to cause too much anxiety then.

I happen to work next door to an Ann Summers store and it never ceases to amaze me at just how anal-retentive most Brits still are. I love my country to bits but to watch the housewives of Sunderland sidle along pretending to be engrossed in the fruit and veg, sneaking quick glances around, twitching nervously at every familiar face before quickly ducking through the shaded door way at a scuttling run is almost enough to make a patriot emigrate. Even worse than the women are the few men who venture in, they tend to march along the street, taking huge, military strides and heading in the general direction of Argos. As they pull opposite the doorway they exhibit precision drill sergeant turns and swagger in at double-speed.

If you linger to watch the doorway for a few moments longer you will see a steady stream of average middle aged men and women straggling out, heads down and empty handed. It seems that while getting up the courage to go in is a major operation, the wares on show just aren't racy enough for the general population of Sunderland. It appears that if we are going to be embarrassed we Brit’s won't settle for less than a 12 foot dildo and a rub down with a hot Chippendale.

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