The Countryside Dogging Menace

BY JIM BROWNE

I used to take the dogs down to a forest just off the A380 alongside a beautiful old manor house with a view of the sea. There’s a great dog-walking circuit down there. It’s perfectly flat and the views are simply stunning. There’s an obelisk half-way round where you can stop and pour a cup from your flask of hot coffee and, when the wife’s not with me, I usually sneak in a cheeky roll-up and pop a wee dram of something truly warming in along with the coffee in the cup.

I’ve stopped taking that walk. At least for a while.

The last time I walked there was one evening last August. Up into the Haldon Hills I drove with my wife and our two trusty hounds and parked alongside the circuit. And there was the obelisk in the distance, waiting for us.  We didn’t need coffee as it was a warm evening – I had a couple of tins of cool shandy tucked in a rucksack and my wife and I were looking forward to necking them when we arrived at the benches below the great obelisk.

However, this walk to the obelisk and back was different from usual.

When we arrived, one of the dogs, Max, shot off into some bushes and I was forced to run after him, as he’s not the best trained mutt I’ve ever owned and has been known to scarper. I followed him into the undergrowth where I’d seen him enter. And after I’d parted some thick branches there he was. Beside a pair of naked buttocks which were rhythmically bobbing up and down on top of another pair.

“I’m so dreadfully sorry,” I said, pulling Max from the bushes. Then, as I pegged it, dragging Max by the collar, I heard two male voices calling back – as if I’d mistakenly walked in on finance instead of HR in the office – saying “oh, that’s alright, mate”.

On that five-miler that evening we saw other buttocks. Discarded condoms. A page ripped out of a porno mag. We felt like fully-dressed sound engineers on the set of Caligula. We’d stumbled across gay orgy night and I began to fast regret my fashion choice that evening of a pink cap and rather tight shorts.

We were big and old enough just to giggle about it at the time. (We’ve been to Bangkok before and witnessed sights there far more exotic in terms of sexual gymnastics. One evening we sat down for dinner quite innocently in one place in Sukhumvit only to realise, as our steaming phad Thai noodles arrived, we were front row spectators in a bizarre, oriental interpretation of wiff-waff).

But, honestly, I really wouldn’t have known what to say if I was with a grandchild or some of our more prudish friends. “Just as well we didn’t take the vicar,” my wife piped up on the journey home. (My poor, innocent wife. Little does she know that our cherub-faced vicar can’t see a cassock without lifting it).

I genuinely understand why men need to escape wives, landlords, partners – whoever – to get some action in the relative privacy and secrecy of the countryside. I really do. And I feel some pity for them.

But, seriously, I could be a single woman or underage lad innocently walking that route and any kind of man – a flasher, a pervert, a mistaken dogger – could think I was there to join the party. And that’s simply not on.

It’s menacing.

This Dogging seems a new phenomenon to me but I suppose it’s been around a while. (The term Dogging – and few people know this –  originated in the early 1970s to describe men who spied on couples having sex outdoors. These men would “dog” the couples’ every move and watch them. Others argue it’s a term related to walking dogs or behaving like dogs, having sexual relations outside as might a dog. Personally I feel a bit sorry for dogs having this label attached to them because dogging can be a far more complex and filthy business than their breeding techniques involve, as I discovered online researching this article. At least that’s what I told the wife).

According to the Police, Dogging is a growing problem in the British countryside, almost across the breadth of the United Kingdom.  The Police certainly have a concern that gay cruisers should not be confronted too robustly for fear the police will be deemed homophobic. And perhaps we should not be surprised that, in our increasingly tolerant society, there is very little censorship of open-air sex acts. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 outlaws flashing and sex in public toilets. But sex behind a tree is not illegal, per se.

So maybe it was all Max’s fault that I stumbled across those perfectly legal men and have a bee in my bonnet about them?

But I still keep thinking about my grandkids. These doggers can’t be in the right can they?

Yes, gays, heterosexuals and others have a human right, in my opinion, to mutual sexual fulfilment.

But can’t we allocate set places for these people to manifest their Dogging desires without getting in the way of the rest of us, who happen to prefer the comfort of our own homes for rumbling (if we were bloody getting any) and rumbling-free countryside for rambling?

Fairly weighed up, Dogging does not seem a victimless pursuit. It needs addressing.

I shouldn’t grumble as there are lots of nice walks around but I used to really rather enjoy that circular walk. Now, whenever I see obelisks around Britain, I can’t help but see something they were never erected to symbolise.

Maybe we’re going full circle and becoming Ancient Egypt? Perhaps Britain’s obelisks, once pointing to God, are now phallic symbols worshipping mere gods like Osiris or Baal.