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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Being ill is one thing. Being ill with something that makes having sex painful is completely unfair. I object. My body has noted my objections and is just resorting to silently grumbling as I take anti-biotics. I have cystitis. And currently experiencing a rather nasty attack. For those of you who are blessed with unawareness it is a horrible, painful and often-times humiliating (not in a good way) illness in which your bladder attempts to kill you by becoming full of acid which then burns every time you need to go to the bathroom. Which is often, because the sensation of a full bladder is part of the symptom package. Additionally there will be pain. Some doctors will choose to describe this as "discomfort" that is because some doctors are male and are extremely unlikely to ever have cystitis.

I am currently, therefore, somewhat grumpy and sleep deprived. I'm also contemplating, not for the first time, the effect that my sexual activity has on my general health. Cystitis can be exacerbated by rough sex, and also by spermicide. I don't think this is by any stretch of the imagination a purely BDSM related thing, but certainly liking a more excitable rhythm in one's fucking might be a potential cause. Which is of course, a worrying thing. Bruises and cuts I can cope with, they only hurt for a bit and that's usually a nice reminder. This, less so.

An ongoing problem with this would really put a cramp in my lifestyle, long-term bondage or mummification would be difficult, chastity devices problematic and I would have to be extra-ordinarily careful about all forms of insertion and pressure. Which would be a shame as these are all things I like. I'm hoping this is just a sporadic incident, caused
because I've been run down recently (I had the dreaded flu) and so my immune system is a bit feeble. I'm also looking into long term preventative methods, although they do include a very long course of low-dosage anti-biotics which worries me slightly. However, not having to feel like this ever again would be really rather nice. So off to the doctors tomorrow to explain, in no uncertain terms, that this is rather more than mere "discomfort". I will probably not add "and I'm a masochist, so I should know". But we shall see.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Managed to grab lunch with Offensive Charmer last week, before he was due to wing his way back to New York and back to a very intriguing situation. He's always described himself to me as a disciplinarian rather than a sadist - punishment and correction is the key thing, not just inflicting pain. The D/s component has always been a figure in our conversations, which is one of the reasons I enjoy talking to him so much as we tend to be of a mind on these things: we both like the psychology of the scenario, that the violence, the deprivations and the suffering has a reason to it. Even the simplest of reasons will do for me: "because I want to hurt you" is perfect and makes my heart to a little happy flip. Until recently, he's needed more specific contexts, particularly that of instructional pain, whereby it is a way of controlling, managing and making the other person better.

However, whilst across the pond he met someone who described themselves as a "true masochist" and although we both tend to baulk at such a phrase, it appears that the lady might have a point. She wanted pain. Pain to the point of not being able to take any more pain. Just pain. No submissive tendencies, no intricate games of power, just to be hit until she could not be hit any more. It was something of a revelation to him, not that a person could want such a thing, but that he could get enjoyment out of it: here the pain has no point, no focus beyond that which it is - one person beating the hell out of someone else and both of them really getting off on it.

Perfect situation perhaps? But there were worries about what might drive the desire to be hurt so much. We are taught to avoid pain, taught to remove and erase it wherever we find it. It is something we are conditioned to think of as bad, a warning signal. Kinky folk know that pain can be hot and exciting and pleasurable, I'm one of them. However, when someone really, really desires extreme quantities of pain, even though we know, on some level, that it can be satisfying and sexy we also worry. Because we think of ourselves as safe, sane and consensual. And that means navigating the line between "good" pain and "bad" pain. We want to hurt just enough, but not too much. So when someone wants to be really pushed to the limits, it can be very worrying, both for ourselves and for them. Difficult thoughts for a dominant: is this the right thing to do, is it actually damaging, am I mentally unwell for enjoying this, is she mentally unwell for wanting me to do it? All things we have to work through, and with care.

Which is what he was doing. And I was trying to help. He felt complicit, and I suppose I can see his point, but unless we know someone really well, we can't judge what drives them to do things we consider dangerous or strange, especially when by all accounts, they enjoy doing it. There are endless reams of discussion on whether participation in BDSM is a cry for help, a precursor to needing quantities of therapy to get over such-and-such a problem. It's all to easy to succumb to this impression. Then start to worry. So there's no easy answer, we found, over our coffees, that we couldn't solve that particular problem, but he isn't going to be deterred. In the back of my mind, I have an image of him, grinning, and this mysterious woman being pushed to an almost religious level of ecstasy by the ensuing blows. It's a nice image. I wish them both all the best. Though as he says, society and general consensus is against him, so if there's a story of sexual misadventure in NY, we know the truth of it.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


I've been thinking recently about humiliation. It's a kink I'm extremely interested in but have not really had much of an opportunity to explore. There is certainly a strong connection between embarrassment and sexual arousal, I remember that some of my earliest sexual fantasies revolved around images of personal humiliation, of having my clothes torn, of verbal abuse and of having water or paint thrown on me. Alongside being tied up and then thrown outdoors.

The idea of humiliation is exciting, it makes me nervous, edgy and very turned on. It's at the edge of want / don't want and that excites me too. Doing something that is distasteful, potentially upsetting, that I don't want to do, but want to be made to do, not because it hurts, but because it hurts my pride, cuts to the quick that sense of being me, of being in control. Being watched whilst doing it. Actions being commented on. The watching and the comments are important, because humiliation is connected to exhibitionism. There is no humiliation if there is no-one to see, and no-one to point the finger, if no-one thinks what you are doing (or being made to do) is humiliating, if they can't see what you are doing then there is no imbalance of power, no King and no Fool. The Fool is a good metaphor for my views on this - the servant or slave humbling themselves, being made low for another person's amusement. A public service to entertain and amuse.

The particulars of humiliation are very, very personal. The activities have to be like Goldilocks' porridge, neither too hot nor too cold but just right.
Because for me it is edge play, and I don't really know where my edges are because I haven't done a lot of this. There are several things that appeal, ideas that make me feel all warm and submissive inside, like boot-licking, grovelling, eating from the floor from a dog bowl. It makes me embarrassed even thinking of it, and that makes me blush, the feeling of blood rushing to my cheeks is almost indistinguishable from the flush of passion when I'm about to orgasm, something squirming deep in my stomach, and in my cunt.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Not always a sex thing

The Photographer is not in the best of moods, which has knock-on effects for our sex-life, two good examples occured recently, which gave me pause for thought on how much D/s is a component of our relationship.

On Saturday morning, I took matters into my own hands and started to top him as a way of getting what I wanted (him), I'm usually happy to lie back and let him plant kisses all over me before nudging him down between my legs to lick my clit, something he is exceptionally good at, which he duly did. Albeit in a sleepy-headed morning sort of way. This made something click in my head - it wasn't right, he wasn't responding to me in the right way, the balance of power was off-kilter. He should be more enthusiastic, keen and eager to please. Grateful to be allowed to do so. In short, he wasn't submissive enough and that realisation took the joy out of it for me. It wasn't about the physical process of stimulation, it was about how he was doing it and the dominant part of me, which has been coming out to play more and more recently, wasn't having any of it.

"Go and fetch the crop." He looked up, then complied. I bent him over the bed and fastened a collar and set of wrist cuffs onto him, and started to beat his arse, lighter taps onto his balls and cock, enjoying the way he hardened and started to moan. It was a punishment, probably the first time I've ever delivered one, but more specifically one that felt appropriate - I wasn't doing this because I knew he liked it, but because I wanted to show him who was boss, I suppose. Which paid off for both of us, I think, given that he returned to his duties with renewed vigour, in several sense of the word.

The second instance was last night. I could tell he was fairly tired and fed-up, just wanting to be left to go to sleep, which left me with my libido for company. I didn't want a reprise of Saturday morning, because the dominant mood had left me and I have no intention of making a habit of pulling a dog-and-pony show in order to have sex with him. Saturday was different, I could read that then he was open to being pushed a bit. Last night he wasn't. He confessed to feeling a bit put off or concerned about not being able to meet my demands, which threw me a little. Yes, sex is important to me, but making sure he is happy is more important. Especially within a BDSM context, the D/s is not just a sex thing, It's a me and him thing: it's about me belonging to him, being his, which means looking after him when he needs it. It's the sensations of being his that I want, which is why it's certain types of treatment, play and behaviour that I'll crave rather than sex itself. Which is not to say I could be in a relationship that long term substituted play for sex in its entirety, just that I can often be kept as happy by being tied up for an hour or two.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Empty vessels

He's fucking me on my side, pushed my back to right angles with the rest of my body so I'm in an L shape. There's very little physical contact, just his cock inside me. He's barely touching me, just the odd hand movement as he reaches to part my labia for easier access, or the briefest touch of an arm or a leg as he shifts position. He's fucking me as if attempting to put the minimum amount of his skin onto my skin.There's a wet, slightly-sore, tension in my cunt as he uses me, muscles are tight with my legs so close together and it feels like he's pressing quite hard as he pushes himself inside me. But nothing else. The rest of my body is untouched, pristine. No marks, no collar, no rope. None of the trappings of play or the signs of ownership. I am not held in place, or held in his arms, not whispered to so I can thrill in being told how much I am his. There is very little sound at all, just the noise of flesh on flesh.

Every now and then he stops. Just lies there, still inside me, I'm not sure what he's waiting for, maybe he's bored of me?That makes me anxious. I don't want to say anything, expecting that my waiting and my silence are part of the arrangement, that I am without words, without authorship and just here.
There are no words, nothing is articulated and that makes it incredibly hard for me to understand what is happening, the space we are in has not been contextualised, we are at the bare bones - I am here to be used by him. There is nothing else. I continue to wait. I don't know what else to do, a part of me would like to make a little noise, see if it might attract his attention, even if that means getting a beating, especially if that means getting a beating. But I know that would be bratty and I know that most likely it would be ignored. Or he'd just roll over and go to sleep. At least here there is some connection, even if it's reduced down to his cock, still but very hard, inside me. Like a physical reminder of what I am for.

This is what use feels like. No bells or whistles, no preamble, just a body being taken in the night.
I feel very strange and disconnected. I'm quite lonely in this place, without his touches or his voice. I am not drifting away pleasantly, in the way I might if I was tied up or blindfolded, I am just emptied, passive, neither excited nor uncomfortable. Just there. I feel very absent, as if there isn't really a "me" to connect to him, because my thoughts, my feelings are a moot point, an irrelevance, what matters is my cunt is warm and wet and my legs can be moved easily this way and that for his convenience. I'm not his "girl" or his "slut" or his "slave". I'm barely even his "thing". Just his.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The limits of safety

A lot of this is the output of an email conversation I've been having with Milady which was ostensibly about arranging a time for training (sadly looking unlikely, beyond an adhoc arrangement, given time, work and travel requirements) and then spiralled into a philosophical and theoretical exchange on what was meant, in practical terms, by "limits" and "safewords". She's a smart lady and, like me, has very clear ideas on what she does and doesn't want so I think that there's a lot of things we might have to agree to disagree on. We started off on opposite sides of the hypothetical fence: she coming from the school of "I don't use limits or safewords" and me "I don't play without them" which, given that I think (I hope) we are both interested in playing together, turned into a conversation about what we each meant. I don't think that Milady and I have quite bottomed out each other's point of view on the whole thing, but I'm hoping that we can at least stay friends through the conversation and perhaps meet up to discuss more.

I get uncomfortable around phrases like "no limits" because I don't believe in such stark finalities. I am extremely doubtful that anyone, anywhere actually has no limits, there is always something that someone doesn't want to do, or doesn't want to do yet, or doesn't want to do at that time with that person. Additionally, in my experience it is a phrase bandied about by male doms who want to tie you up and have rough anal sex without condoms. Not that I have anything against anal sex, I'm quite fond of it, but not without protection, and probably not with people who I've only just met. So for me, it's a phrase with bad connotations, which is unfortunate, as there is an alternative way of understanding it, which Milady was presenting to me.

No limits could mean a universe without limitation, whereby there was total control, total command and total offering up. An utopic vision of dominance and submission, with utter trust and utter care. A place where the tools and methods of pleasure and pain where entirely out of my hands and at the whim of someone who knew me, through and through, and had the strength to take me on a fantastic exploration of my body and mind. This is a very attractive fantasy, but I think I have a bit of hard-headed (mundane?) practicality to me that naturally resists such a thing. What if there was a problem? What if there were complications? How does it work in reality? And how it works, for me at least, is that there is a discussion of limits.

To take another example, a more positive spin on limits, which I think can be a bit maligned. My limits are the negative space around which my desire flows, in the large and expanding gaps around my limits, anything goes, but they are rocks in the stream, worn smooth and perhaps dislodged with time. But there for the moment. And that's how I view them, a snapshot of my current status, my kinky outlook. Why poke at stones when you could play in the water? I like my limits, they are part of me.

No safewords, I can understand a little better, especially when you are at a point where you know the other person very well and can tell if they are in actual trouble, but for those that I don't know well, or who, to be more precise, don't know me or my body well, there are safewords.
Her concern, which I can empathise with, was about when people misuse limits or safewords, using them to top from the bottom or control the scene in some other way. For me, that's got less to do with the concept of limits and safewords as I understand them, and more to do with people messing around. Milady used a great phrase, which was the negative wish-list, and I think that's a really good way of describing it. Wish lists are about desire, often pie-in-the-sky desire at that, things we would like in an ideal world, when we have the time and the space to acquire them. Which is fantasy BDSM all over - something we can perhaps never truly grasp at, but are working towards, and something which exists, majoritively, in our minds.

I actively want to be controlled by the top within the scene. I want to let go and put myself in their hands. However, in order to feel safe doing that, I need to know that I am safe, that they won't hurt me beyond how I've agreed to be hurt. This obviously applies more stringently to new people than to those I've played with a few times before,.The Photographer and I for example, tend not to go through list of limits on a nightly basis. Although we do often discuss things that we haven't done, or are a bit scared of doing and then line them up as an activity.

Which is also the fun thing about limits, and I do view them as a necessary and important component to enjoying BDSM, to making the enjoyment better. I like to use them to frame discussions and negotiations, to be able to say "well, I sometimes find this difficult, but I want to try" is part of my submission - to be able to give something up, to offer it to the dominant, to let them know about my fear, my worry and to show them I trust them with it and to be careful with that knowledge.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


I'm blindfolded, on my back on the bed. Aphex Twin ambient sounds float in the air, it's a warm summer evening and I'm blissfully relaxed, soaking up the gentle tension of the rope as The Photographer slowly wraps loop after loop after loop around my limbs. It's been a while since I've felt like this, happily letting myself go and retreating to that space just behind my eyelids. My fingers and the soles of my feet are tingling, like the precursor to an Ecstasy high. I'm extraordinarily calm, no need to move or make any noise, just lying back whilst he arranges me however he likes. Perfect.

My right wrist is tied to my right knee, coils of rope on my thigh spreading my legs apart to try and lay them down frog-like, I can't quite make it and am left with it partly in the air. The left knee is bent and bound to my left thigh, there's a taut, spreading sense of not-quite pain, more a growing warmness as I try to hold the position, enjoying the element of resistance involved. My left wrist is brought up to my neck, rope curled around into an impromptu collar and my fingers touch my face. Held there. Finally he parts my lips with exploratory fingers, inserting a knot of rope, fixing it behind my head.

He pauses, briefly to pinch my labia, first gently, then harder and I gasp with pleasure, enjoying the harshness of the touch, it feels like an examination, checking the goods. He leaves me there, at the foot of the bed and goes back to his reading. I can feel his feet press against my side, he moves them so his legs are resting on my stomach. I'm stretched out for his pleasure, his comfort. I smile to myself, happy within my body, within the room, within the rope, endlessly his thing.

Later he uses me, the rope has served as excellent foreplay and my cunt is very wet. Limbs slightly sore and strained from the position, still blindfolded, he feels like a stranger fucking me - I become in my mind an object that he has found, a body he is taking. It isn't our usual position, I have no control of my arms to be able to offer it to him by holding my labia apart so he can take his ease. I'm a fixed point, a utility without autonomy. He removes the blindfold, and suddenly I can see him. He's smiling, his hands rest lightly on the side of my face, I twinge, the lightest touch on my cheek always gives me the split-second expectation of a hard slap but it doesn't arrive. He's gentle tonight, taking his time. Our connection is restored and the sensation of him inside me becomes intimate, less alien. There you are. And with that, there I am, becoming the person who belongs to him, rather than the object used by someone.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

How to play

I met up with a friend for coffee yesterday to discuss doing some photos to kick-off the much neglected doll project. We came up with a few ideas, including some geisha shots as well as general kinky chat. The conversation veered around to the poker party over the weekend, as she also knew Milady. We were talking about games and styles of playing, coming to a distinction between "kink" and "D/s" as useful descriptors for two different methods of handling play.

For the purposes of this conversation kink covers general physical practices - spanking, bondage, sens dep etc. D/s takes this a bit further, it implies that these activities are done within a power-exchange context, in which the participants have roles to play, ways of behaving towards each other that provide a framework to the kink. I enjoy straight-up kinky activities, but think that adding the D/s can make it that much richer, giving psychological and erotic elements to what is being done. Blindfold me and I'll start to anticipate something, my skin will feel a little more sensitive, I might start curling and uncurling my fingers, my cunt might get wetter, my breathing a little shallower. Button pushing for the body. Grab me by the hair, force a blindfold onto me and demand I keep quiet or I'll get a beating and you'll get a much faster and more intense response. Button pushing for the brain.

Expectation management is key, as is having partners who understand the needs of one another. For the D/s relationship to work there has to be some form of social contract which not only discusses that which is to be taken and that which is to be given up, but how it is going to be done. The second point is stylistic and therefore harder to come to terms with. For example, agreeing to be beaten with a cane is a fairly clear decision, variations on speed, stroke and intensity can be sorted with reasonable ease. Style is personal, and it's not so easy to change, unlike for example, hitting someone with a paddle rather than a crop to fit in with their preference. If you don't enjoy a certain style of behaving then it's much harder (and sometimes impossible) to adapt to play with someone who does, at best you might feel uncomfortable or bored. It's about match-making in one sense, pairing people up so that they each get what they want.

Submission is not altruism or complete selflessness. There can certainly be aspects of that and I've occasionally played with it as an idea, but it needs context and management, rules of engagement. There is always give and take, on both sides. Just because the dominant is enjoying themselves, doesn't mean that the submissive is completely fulfilled, they might be happy that the dominant is happy, but the ideal situation is one in which both parties are getting exactly what they want. And giving it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Whipping boy

The Photographer and I went along to a poker game hosted by Milady, a Domme who I've known of for a while, but never more than a quick hello at a munch or similar. She's a woman after my own heart and had prepared and planned a very detailed session, with a lovely sheet of rules and everything laid out just so. I was a bit twitchy, because I was set to be her submissive partner and had never played with her before. The scenario was very service orientated, and I usually feel comfortable if I've got a better feel of the other person beforehand so I can make sure they are totally looked after. I needn't have worried, she was extremely clear in what she wanted and how she wanted it done, so I could relax and focus on making sure she was happy, settling into my role of fetching, carrying and doing quick probability checks on our mutual hand.

There were a mix of people I knew and new folk so the beginning of the night was very chatty, before we settled into our roles. Four couples, arranged into pairs, four hands to a game, after each game the couple with the least chips gets their submissive to strip. At the end of the night, the losing couple's submissive is whipped. Milady won, much to my relief, whilst The Photographer was not so lucky. I ended the session almost full clothed, he was naked and tied to a set of chains with two dommes going at his back with single tail whips.

He has always claimed to not be a masochist. The refusal to give in, to apologise for "cheeky" behaviour and the little smile that played on his lips said otherwise. Both myself and another male submissive, jumped, yelped and twisted our faces in empathy at his beating, whilst he himself did little more than make the odd wriggle as his back became a mesh of red lines. Talking about it later he acknowledged there were some forms of pain he likes better than other, and the single tail with its short-sharp-shock sensation really worked for him. He also felt it to be rather cathartic, a way of expunging the sense of being the loser, of managing the Ds relationship through discipline and punish. Pain is instructive, it is also exciting - the strength of the feeling creates an endorphin rush, the ability to withstand pain, to take a beating is empowering physically and mentally it is satisfying - you have taken the punishment offered by the dominant, just as you would take a collar or a caress.

In the case of the whipping, watching it was very interesting. The position he was in - tied in a cross, naked and exposed was quite striking, a very stylised submissive punishment pose. I've never actually seen anyone been beaten that much up close, in clubs it's usually quite dark and you don't see the lines form, but here it was almost cinematic in setting. I like the formality of it - the way that the whippings were the final point of the evening, grouped together to watch (or participate) in a display in which the submissive's skin is the stake that the dominant has lost. There's something quite thrilling in the idea of being "gambled away" of being an item that could be taken or bought, playing right into my favoured areas of objectification and ownership. Forfeit.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Ice, ice, baby

First edition in a series of ways to be kinky when it is very hot. There was a thread on IC about this, although it focused primarily on horrible things to do with submissives in the heat, such as leaving them outside to get sunburn (my health and safety warning lights went on at that one), to tying them up in a puddle of mud and making the piggy roll around to avoid sunburn. Instinctively I feel that given the sun is a difficult medium for even the best dominant to control, it should be avoided rather than harnessed, as a pale-skinned person I'm very conscious of the long term dangers of exposure to sunlight. Give me a decent, zero-UV flogging any day. Indoors. With the windows open and the blinds pulled down. Or outdoors at night.

The Photographer is too hot: that makes him lethargic and easier to manipulate, I wonder whether the heat makes him more prone to submissiveness, either it's just a natural inclination to lying down and being fussed over, whether in a painful or pleasurable way. I've put him on his stomach, ankles and wrists cuffed, then clipped together in a hogtie. I blindfold him and leave him for a while. As often happens, I do unto others as I would be done to. In this case, I've been having visions of being fucked with ice-cream, so whilst I had him prone, I decided to turn the tables. I started off with a series of ice-cubes placed along his back, and one in his mouth to keep him busy. Then I placed a mini-milk into a condom, applied a bit of lube and spent a diverting twenty minutes or so pressing it against the base of his cock, and then into his arse.

I was reasonably happy with how it went, although it did melt quickly, so wasn't as hard for as long as I'd like, which made fucking him with it difficult. I think my idealised scenario would be either to try ice-lollies, or to have a few to hand, so I could replace them one after the other. I'd also like to feed him the melted remains dripped from the used condom, perhaps making him lick it from a plate or bowl, doggie style, on all fours whilst the next one melted inside him.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Words, words, words

I like language, voices and writing - but good (by which, of course, I mean that which I enjoy) sexual language can be hard to find. Just as there is a lot of bad porn out there, there's a lot of bad erotica, with purple prose and awful gendered or hetero-normative stereotypes which make me twitch. I'll leave the more politically inclined bloggers to deal with the latter, I'll stick to the former.

Writing about BDSM, like doing it, is a matter of taste, personal preference, however, there is a difference between poor writing and writing that one doesn't like. For me, it can often be about word use. There are certain elements of style I've adopted in writing this blog which encapsulate some of my preferences: words I do and don't use, and I do try to be consistent. Practice what you preach, and all that.

My current pet hate is the word "cum" used for orgasm and/or ejaculate, it's a common occurrence and probably has a space in the OED by now, but I hate it. The truncated text-speak nature of it, deliberate misspelling of another word and (to my ear) it sounds ugly. I like orgasm. Orgasm is a nice word, especially if you break the word down into the oh of pleasure, the gasp of climax, and the lengthy mmm as you relax afterwards. Cum sounds a bit curt, for my tastes. Cut off in its prime.

I've also had a lengthy conversation with myself about dom/domme and the perils of capitalisation. I'm never especially keen on gendered pronouns, finding them obviously sexist, but sexuality is perhaps one of those very few areas where having a shorthand reference for gender is useful: it's good to be able to clearly describe whether the person I'm playing with is male or female as this has an impact on the way we will play, on the sexual connection. Ideally I'd like to just have one general term, and then use "he" or "she" where needed, but given that "dom" is conventionally taken to mean "male dominant" that might be confusing. Clarity being important to me.

Then there is the capital. To capitalise or not? This is an area where I acknowledge my inconsistency, because I attempt to use them where the people I am writing about also use them, just as one person might like to be called "master" and another "sir", certain folk might be as attached to their capitals (and lower cases) as they are to their favourite whip. Wouldn't want to deprive them of either. I'm personally undecided on the subject: it's considered bad grammar to use capitalisations for titles when referring to them in general, but certain high-ranking posts (and surely this is a case for a high ranking post) always take a capital. For the moment, I'm happy enough with where I am, pending some sort of formal survey at a munch, perhaps?