I don't have a photo of Vanessa... unfortunately, but here's a very nice one of the sheep. Thanks, Maggie.

It’s a new beginning, another one. It’s late February and I  am prostrated by la gripe, man-flu… laid low to the extent that I am unable to function normally and am thus reduced to writing blogs. These things happen from time to time and it’s nothing to get worried about, but there’s a lot of coughing going on, inordinate quantities of mucus, a wretched weakness and much sneezing. This last I like a lot, and in a sense it makes the whole thing worthwhile, because it makes me think of Vanessa Blackwell. I should explain…

Vanessa Blackwell, whom I haven’t laid eyes on since I was eighteen, is the girl I have thought of more than any other in my whole life – apart from the Wife, that is – and all because of a most singular event which I shall now relate to you.

The more assiduous followers of my witterings will remember that I was educated at one of those establishments conceived to prepare men to run the Empire (British). It was a boys’ boarding school, and thus, until I turned up one late summer morning at the co-educational Crawley College of Knowledge, I had only the sketchiest notions of what a girl was, and still less of what they were actually for.

Imagine, then, the author, fresh from public school, taking his seat nervously halfway up a tower block in Crawley new town, for his first ‘Liberal Studies’ class. I was dressed in what I considered to be bohemian style: unwashed jeans, rabbit-fur coat and grey felt hat. In the classroom were a score or so of louts making a lot of noise and fooling about. They made me feel uneasy.

All of a sudden the classroom door flew open and banged against the wall. Every head swivelled; a pen dropped with a crash like thunder into the portentous silence that engulfed us, as we took in the dazzling apparition at the door. We had none of us ever seen anything like it, and never, never would we see such a thing again. For there stood none other than Vanessa Blackwell herself, disdainfully appraising us. She was slender, and willowy with the shape of a woman, and she moved like the back legs of a colt. The eyes that so insolently held our drooling gaze were witches’ green, and her curling blonde hair cascaded down across the skin-tight black velvet minidress that she had somehow contrived to wriggle into.

There was a sharp intake of breath from each lug and lout in unison, culminating in a long low groan; then the utter silence reasserted itself. This, then, was a girl, and this was what they were for: she exuded raw sex, and she had each and every one of us males utterly bewitched.

For an instant longer she held our gaze… as each of us longed against longing for her to sit beside us.

Then, very delicately, she sneezed.

We gasped.

She spoke:

“Did you know,” she said, with a toss of her curls, “that the intensity of a woman’s sneeze is in inverse proportion to the intensity of her orgasm?”

Vanessa Blackwell, I shall never forget… and I’m sure that there was not another lumpen lug in that classroom who ever will forget either.

Anyway, as a consequence of this illuminating little episode, I have thought in a salacious way of Vanessa Blackwell every time I have sneezed since the age of eighteen. That was forty two years ago. In an average week one might sneeze, I suppose, thirty times (with me they come in threes). In a week with the man-flu heavy upon one it might be more than three hundred times. The man-flu hits you about once a year, so call it fifty one thirties and one three hundred: that’s 1,830; now multiply that by forty two and you get seventy six thousand eight hundred and sixty times that Vanessa in that slinky black dress has sashayed into my view. I think that may be even more than I’ve thought in that way about the Wife…


5 Responses to “THE JOY OF SNEEZING”

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  1. Comment by inma carreño — March 1, 2012 at 10:39 am   Reply

    Ohhhhh, please, the same in spanish Mr. Stewart. Although I understand a little of English, I follow your blog and sometimes it´s quite difficult for me.
    Kisses from Bilbao.

  2. Comment by Laura — March 10, 2012 at 1:34 am   Reply

    I check way too often to see if you have written a new post. Delighted to discover that you have found your way to share another entertaining story – thank you.

  3. Comment by Tony Lynch — August 17, 2013 at 10:35 am   Reply

    Hi Chris,
    I’ve sent many emails asking if you’re going to write another book – alas due to your work load you’ve not been able to respond!
    where’s my new book?
    I’ve waited patiently now for a few years and still no bloody book! I always read your books on holiday and they are now wearing out due to “over-use” They are also a brilliant distraction from flying, which i hate.
    Get off your arse and write me a new book?
    Sorry, you’re my favourite author, so i’m passionate about your work – just trying to kick you into gear.
    It doesn’t have to be written just for me, i’ll let you publish it as well if you like.

  4. Comment by sylvia Meekham — September 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm   Reply

    Chris, time please for ‘another’ sequel to D/O Lemons! Have now read all 3 books at least 4 time each in the past 10 years and love em. I need to know what Anna is up to these days, whether you still see Domingo, and how Cloe did at Uni, quite apart from where you;ve travelled during this time. Lets have some more please. Best regards, Sylvia

  5. Comment by pete — October 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm   Reply

    great writing,love your style.What happened to you when valley was flooded?We live in north wales but come to spain when we can.

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