When I was twenty two I decided I needed ‘meaning and purpose’ – so moved home to Sussex to do a teacher training course. | by Lucy Wolf | May, 2024

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Despite being rent free the training stipend doesn’t go far and I run out of money fast in my suburban exile. Without a ready crowd of bankrolling bankers and free parties – I’m haemorrhaging cash on shitty burgers and train fares. I scroll through gumtree ads idly wondering if I could pick up a bar job or some waitressing and count on big tips. The first response to my job post is from someone looking for local escorts.

I’d seen belle de jour. It didn’t seem that bad – Maybe this was the easiest way to tide myself over. I went to meet the woman I’d been emailing in a local pub – strangely ageless with a loud croaky cackle and a willingness to buy in to my projected bravado.

She looked me up and down, bought me a gin + tonic and introduced me to a tall silent man who she paid to ‘make sure the punters stay polite’. She told me stories about the policemen that were her regulars and the pair of builders that used to come and see her before their work day started – they didn’t care if she shaved her legs or even if she put out her cigarette.

I told her that I hadn’t technically been paid for sex before – but wondered, as I had often to my friends, where the line is between asking for money up front, and pulling down your knickers at the end of a big night out when someone else has paid for all the drinks and party favours.

The going rate at the time for ‘a posh girl’ was more than her usuals. She promised not to put my face on the website and told me that she took 25% and I kept all the tips. Take home pay for three hours work after school would be more than I made in a week teaching.

It turns out that between 5–8 is a busy time of day for sex workers in commuter towns. Mid life men get off the train and stop in for a quickie on the way home – Ideal for a teacher to put in a shift on the way home from work too.

I got home that evening, took some selfies in nice knickers for the website – and wrote a couple of lines of schtick about naughty public school days. Then I googled the Mulberry bag that I wanted and worked out when I could buy it.

My new boss was keen I saw my first client as soon as possible. She booked me a 40 minute ‘quickie’ with a man who was in his 60s. He was about my height, paunchy in the sagging way men with no muscle tone become in mid life. He smelled of spearmint and recently applied deodorant. I heard his plastic bottomed shoes tapping all the way up the stairwell.

I imagined feeling sexy and empowered but I can’t remember really feeling anything. He was pathetically anxious that I should enjoy myself, he really hoped he could come and see me again. He announced when he was ‘ready to come’ and then silently shuddered and clung to me as his plastic wrapped dick, unimpressive at full mast, shrivelled and slithered out. I think the most undignified part of it all was the departure. I didn’t know what to do with myself so I sat wrapped in a sheet on the bed and watched him get dressed.

I didn’t bother to shower afterwards. My new boss told me she wouldn’t take a cut of my first booking. I skipped back through the park to get a bus home to my parents – giddy with nervous energy and telling myself I was buzzing because of how easy it had been. The enormity of it all hit when my boyfriend called later and asked about my day. I still hadnt washed and the £120 sitting on my desk in twenties wasn’t enough to compensate for how grim I felt. I scrubbed myself and deleted her number.

Two weeks later I met someone at a dinner party and forgot to mention I technically had a boyfriend. He was 6’4 and friends with the captain of the first IV from college. We went for a long, wine fuelled lunch the next day and kissed like hungry teenagers in the corner of a bar. I call my boyfriend on the way home to break up with him.

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