Gay sex boffin shocker

I used to work part-time in a tabloid newspaper, once upon a yesterday. Don’t worry, I wasn’t a Page 3 stunna – though I could have been – or a shifty bloke in a raincoat sifting through other people’s rubbish bins. (I do enjoy that from time to time, of course, but purely as a recreational thing.)

No, I was a sub-editor. For those not in this business we call The Media, that doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that you’re the deputy to the editor or anything (those are called, eh, deputy editors). It means you read, edit, proof and rework the copy – i.e. the articles – as they are filed by reporters. You also write headlines, source pictures and give out about every aspect of the job ceaselessly, especially the reporter who just filed a piece of rubbish on abattoirs or something that’s so offensively crap, it moves past bad to genuinely “offal”.

Sorry. I did say I’d worked for a tabloid.

And apart from employing puns so lame they’d probably qualify for some sort of disability payment, the other great staple of tabloid subbing is the use of the word “boffin”. It’s one of those weird media terms which are instantly recognisable to everyone, but never actually spoken or written by anyone in normal society.

Like, have you ever said, “Oh my nephew is studying science at college – he wants to be a boffin”? No, you haven’t, admit it. Nobody says gibberish like that.

Anyway, to get back to the point: tabloids love a boffin story. And there is a literally endless range of such creatures: space boffins discover this, biscuit boffins prove the other, octopus boffins, wheelbarrow boffins, cornflake boffins, probably a few boffin boffins too, which is a lovely postmodern twist.

But the best, of course, are sex boffins. We used to picture what, exactly, these pioneers of carnal exploration would look and act like, every time we’d have to sub a story on some new piece of research. (You know the type of thing: “Sex boffins’ new findings show that 78% of men think about Angelina Jolie 63% of the time while having sex with 94% of women etc. etc.”)

The most common way that information on the world’s sexual habits is gathered, I’m fairly certain, is by having people fill in questionnaires anonymously. Some of the tabloid stories, though, suggested a bit more of a hands-on – ahem – approach.

Like, there was this one story about how homophobic men, ironically, were more turned on than straight men when viewing homosexual pornography. And the report was full of the usual “boffins carried out a series of tests on a selection of men in laboratory-controlled conditions” and so on.

Christ. Imagine that being your job? You’d get home from work, crack open a brewski and spark up a well-earned coffin-nail, and your wife would ask, “So, how was work today?”

And you’d reply, “Yeah, it was okay. First I put on my white lab coat and Joe 90 glasses, as per standard operating procedure. Then I had to attach electrodes and wires and things to three dozen, well, wires and things, found in the trouser departments of a group of straight men, gay men, and straight men who hate gay men but in actual fact are attracted to gay men so maybe they’re not straight men after all. If you’re still following me, because to be honest, I’ve confused myself at this stage. Then we sat through four hours of hard-core pornography and monitored any or all stirrings in the aforementioned trouser departments. Marked them off, made little ticks in the correct boxes, the whole thing. We even measured the extent of arousal by a method so icky and horrible, my mind has now blanked it from memory forever.

“Then we broke for lunch. I had the salami.”

What a way to make a living. And I say this as a man who once shamelessly cashed in on Princess Diana’s tragically young and horrifically violent death by selling drawings of her while living in Japan. I used even put stuff like “Diana, Queen of All Our Hearts” across the top.

But at least I never had to work as a sex boffin. Which is good, because I think I’ve already seen all the homosexual pornography ever made, so the job would be really boring, having to watch the same stuff over again.

I wonder, actually, if these sex boffins really exist, or have they just been invented – possibly by a group of sex boffin-boffins – in a laboratory somewhere, then transplanted into the pages of The Sun and The Star.

Perhaps I’ll ask cheery stunna Gemma, 21, from Tipton, for her opinion the next time I meet her.

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