Pamela Bordes


I am trying not to have sex with Pamela Bordes.
Some people have told me I might be able to.
Some people have told me I might have to.
Some people have told me that if I do, not to do so on expenses.
No-one seemed to think that I wouldn’t want to.

I don’t want to.

Nothing personal against the lovely lady, of course, but even before the date was set, I realised that to have sex with Ms Bordes would be simply more than my life’s worth. Fatal.

Let me tell you, the trouble a date with Pamela Bordes can bring an INNOCENT man is incredible. Before we’d even met, my reputation lay in shreds.

First, my other half and I returned from a delightful evening with friends to find a purring, practically panting message from Pamela on our ansaphone. A seductive mix of the breathy and the bitchy, heat and poise seemed to emanate from her every word. “See you on Thursday.”

Hearing who the caller was, my partner raised one elegant eyebrow, proudly lifted her chin and practically spat at the phone.
“‘ Huh,” she snorted and retired directly to bed. Alone.

Then, the gossips’ grapevine reported that Pamela was “a rampaging social climber”, a “voracious nymphomaniac, a “shameless, insatiable slut” – as if there’s anything wrong with that. I was told she regularly (or irregularly) made a play for any journalist that might prove useful. People who had never met her assured me she would leap on me, and practically devour me with her bare teeth.

I contemplated trying to make myself ugly for the purposes of the date – possibly pigging out on Chanko-nabe (Sumo stew) – but It was pointed out lack of good looks only seemed to encourage her.

I was reminded of some of the men reportedly associated with her in the past, my predecessors: Colin Moynihan, Jim Davidson, Colonel Gadaffi, Captain Mark Phillips….Andrew Neil. Was it possible, I wondered, for me to uglify myself to a greater extent than Andrew Neil? It seemed unlikely.

All week friends embarrassed and tormented me: interminable innuendo, coarse mockery…asking me about my Fundoshi (Sumo loin-cloth).

The neighbours pointed. The milkman told all his friends. My mother said I had disgraced the family’s good name. My sister accused ME of being a prostitute – going out with Pamela Bordes for the money. Even the dog seemed to be snubbing me. I felt hounded and felt a kind of empathy, from one hounded prostitute to another.

Studying Pamela’s press file, I read that she was: “a piece of sexual currency”, a “£1,000 a night call girl” and “international whore” with “a near genius for sexual psychology.” I gulped.

She was described as “self-advancing, scheming, temperamental”, “sickeningly self-obsessed”, “utterly immoral”. “Unashamedly amoral,” said the Daily Mail. Yeah, I thought, but what’s her down side.

Digging deep for something sympathetic, I found her refer to ‘the scandal’, saying, solemnly, “my mother never really forgave me.” The only good news was that one man erroneously associated with her during ‘the scandal’ was awarded £65,000 damages.

By the time she phoned to arrange a meeting place, I had planned my defence. I would tell her everything: I was in love. I was impotent. I was a celibate Tibetan. I was a virgin. I was studying to become a Priest.

I would tell her: I’m attached. Disturbed. Diseased. Deranged. I’m gay. I would tell Pamela anything not to have sex with her.

When she called though, she suggested we meet at The Mayfair Hotel. Alternatively, she suggested the doorway of a pharmacy opposite South Kensington Tube. I shuddered. I concentrated on resisting the sensation of aroused curiosity. A hotel, a doorway…surely she hadn’t resorted to old habits.

“Wear loose trousers,” Pamela said. “I’m really excited. I think it will be a spiritual experience.”
This seemed a bit strong. Then I remembered: we were going to the Sumo, the London Basho, cushions in the front row.

She arrived a tiny ball of energy, nerves and child-like excitement at the sight of the Sumo warriors. Wearing satin slippers, stylish olive-green Pringle jumper and ill-fitting black jeans, “dressed up”, she said, because I had, her dry laugh, plain face, hunched shoulders all suggested she was almost trying to defy an unmissable beauty; make herself neutral. Sexless.

I interpreted this immediately as a trick.

With the entire Royal Albert Hall watching, I escorted Ms Bordes in. I saw the event, the date, was even being shown on Channel 4, which seemed a bit unnecessary. I could feel the eyes of the nation, not to mention the neighbours and my mother checking up on me.

With the TV lights glaring down on me (like spotlights) as I sat on my cushion, it felt not unlike an execution. The opening ceremonies – a Shinto priest, ancient Unryu-Gata and Sanyaku Soroibumi rituals – all pointed to a sacrifice.

I realised I had been so nervous about getting drunk and flirting disastrously (kamikazily) that I had ended up having several ceremonial sakes beforehand, just to quell my nerves.

To my horror, my self-imposed Flirt Alert immediately failed me. As we sat down and took our shoes off, she leant over and whispered casually, “You’re very good-looking actually.” “So are you,” I replied instantly, before the Flirt Alert had time to alert me. I clung to the hope that being good-looking was in fact a setback for the possibility of having sex with her. I remembered her (reputed) whispered chat-up to one-time boyfriend, Nick Adam: “Are you unfaithful to your girlfriend?” The words “unashamedly amoral” flashed through my mind.

“Do you want to go to the toilet now?” she asked sweetly.
This was it, I thought. In the TOILET.
“I mean, before the bouts start,” she explained, almost a little too quickly to be reassuring.

Rather than “shrewd” and “manipulative”, if anything she seemed quite shy. I’m wondering why she had come on the Esquire date – latent publicity seeking, reckless bravery, even naivety, when the Sumotori walk in like portable cranes, twin-towers as legs, like dinosaurs dressed in nappies, kimonos and what looked like lifebelts, with the grace and dignified rage of Gods.

Like Russian dolls, they seem to get bigger and bigger. Two of them performed a Chiri-chozu, some Matawari (exercises) and did a quick Shiko – lifting their legs above their heads to “stamp down devils”, a ritual like slow-motion vogueing, dinosaur aerobics. We look up their mawashis (nappies) and the spots on Mitoizumi – ‘The Salt Shaker’-‘s bum.

‘The Dump Truck’, ‘The Sea Slug’, ‘The Bulldog’, ‘The Typhoon’, ‘The Big Panda’, ‘The New Dawn’, ‘The Killer Whale’,

I looked at Pamela: ‘The Mantis’. Myself, I felt like ‘The Caterpillar’ (5ft 10”, 9 stone 3). If she was ‘The Black Widow’, I felt like ‘The Money Spider’. I didn’t stand a chance. I could feel 35,000 Sumo fans look down and say, “Who’s that Caterpillar in the front row with Pamela Bordes?”

“That one’s got stretch marks,” squeals a delighted Pamela, rather louder than might be wise when the said Sumo was Konishiki, ‘The Dump Truck’ – 6ft 2” and 37 stone/503 lbs. Old woman’s flab falls in drapes from his thighs, which rub together at his knees. Pamela giggles that, with two sagging bellies spilling either side of his belly button, he looks like “a waterbed”. I laugh back – nervously.

‘The Sea Slug’ is the saddest Sumo I have ever seen (as sad as Pamela). Probably because he is The Sea Slug. He probably wanted to be ‘The Panther’.

Entering his bout, ‘The Salt Shaker’ duly hurls salt over us. I quickly assume he’s heard Pamela state authoritatively that ‘The Salt Shaker’ is gay.

Meanwhile ‘The Dump Truck’ appears to be eyeing up my date. I get proprietorial, try and stare him out, intimidate him. But if ‘The Dump Truck’ is shitting himself, there is no sign of it.

I have fantasies about stepping, to loud applause, into the ring, and dumping ‘The Dump Truck’s’ nose in the dust, rubbing ‘The Salt Shaker’s face into the salt.

I am awoken by a crashing slap as the two Sumotori meet head on, their expressions taken by a, strangely sexual, panic that as ‘The Caterpillar’, I can quite relate to. They grapple to a yapping commentary from the referee, like a Japanese Peter O’Sullivan. ‘The Dump Truck’ wins by a Oshitaoshi (push-down).

With no notable humour, Pamela says she is, presently, unattached.
“I’m not going out with anyone. I haven’t got time. What would I do with a man anyway? I can’t drag him round the world with me. I have no time to go to bed with him…”

Was this her excuse? Time. And how much was left?
“I’m quite impressed when a man tries to pick me up,” she laughed with a dry snort. The last time had been when a war correspondent in Assahb asked her if she’d like to go to a war-zone with him, which is, at least, original.
“I don’t know anything about men. As far as I’m concerned, they’re from another planet. I don’t know any.”

How to broach Pamela’s past? I stumble. I stutter.
“Before the…during the…when you were…”

When you were WHAT? A professional escort? Having sex for money?
“The publicity is not true. I was just being used. I didn’t enjoy the publicity. It’s all lies. It was very painful.” She looks wounded.

She has, she says, very few friends from “before”, but has more friends now. Her friends, she says, are women – “painters, photographers, artists, usually older women, women in their 80s, who inspire me. A lot of women write to me and say I’ve done really well. I’ve bounced back.”

Do you think you intimidate men? I asked, trying to sound innocuous, not intimidated.
“I bloody well hope so. They can see I’m not interested.”

I don’t know if it was the allure of Ms Bordes, the effect of all that Sumo flesh or the pre-meet pressure, but sitting there, squatting there, on my cushion in my bare feet, all I could think about was…sex.

“What about sex?” I said suddenly, blurting the words out, more like a request than a question, a somewhat seedy, rather blunt, request at that.

She laughed and said she was “clean”, “kosher”, “straight”. But if she’s “pure”, I’m “prurient.”
“My sexual energy gets transformed into creative energy. Controlled. It sits in the base of my spine. Besides,” she smiled rather sexily, knowingly, “I have an exceptionally low sex drive.”

Hata-kikomi? Slap-down?
“I’ve been through long periods of celibacy – many times, long periods.”
She told me about her kundalidi. But putting sperm up your spine made about as much sense as the referee’s Japanese screams.

It occurred to me that hatred of sex was often an occupational hazard. Do you like sex? I asked her, dimly unaware that half the audience had stopped watching The Sumo World Championship to await the response.
“I don’t know. I can’t remember what it’s like. I’ve been celibate too long.”

Was this a Shitate-nagi (underarm throw)? Maybe a yorikiri (frontal force-out)?
It struck me she could be using the tactic Tony Curtis used on Marilyn Monroe in ‘Some Like It Hot’, but there is something quite lonely about her.
“The things I remember, I don’t like to think about. You’re promiscuous, are you?”

Her disapproval was evident and perhaps a bit rich – considering.
“Part of you must want it. I don’t want it, so I don’t attract anyone. You should get over it.”
I don’t want to, I thought. I thought aloud.
“Oh really???”

Own goal? Auto-Sotogake?
All this time, of course, I was waiting – for the plunge, the leap, all the Tsuppari (thrusting tactics), but Pamela’s manner was as meek and deferential as a beaten child’s.

With no taxis in sight, we took the bus to dinner. To my surprise, as a no. 49 approached, Pamela was brandishing her bus-pass. Sweetly, she showed me the photo from her heyday – 2/3 years ago. Upstairs on an empty bus, she let her hair down and almost visibly relaxes. She natters about the spirit and beauty of the Sumatori and has finally stopped being defensive.

At the restaurant in Mayfair, tucking into Malayan spice and raw fish soup, Pamela, a workaholic as boring as any other, enthuses about her burgeoning photography career, her dedication, her work and solo travels in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Namibia, where she caught malaria.
“Hallucinations, visions, tripping… I have conversations with myself…weird conversations. I get it quite regularly,” she laughs.
She showed me the spot where a tick laid its eggs inside her (I’m not telling), where the maggots came crawling out.

It’s all very pleasurable, until I refer back to “The Scandal”. This meets with a swift and effective Hikiotoshi (pull-down).
“Listen. I don’t know anything about libidos and sex and stuff like that, so let’s talk about something else.”

This is attack not defence. I make a joke but it’s not funny.
“I spent two years wandering round in the desert, completely lost. I was completely freaked out. I lost all my hair, lost 30 lbs. I used to walk round in a daze. It took two years to recover after the breakdown. The photography was my therapy.”

She protests that her Public Image was “a hype, a media creation, to make me a scapegoat.”
“I’ve separated myself,” she says distantly.

This tactic could have been a Tsuki-dashi (thrust-out), a Tsuki-toshi (twist-down), or, simply, the truth.
“I would have sued. I didn’t have the money. Even now, I own nothing, no house, nothing. These powerful men from the tabloids – ‘wealthy arms-dealer’, ‘wealthy businessmen’… I don’t know any. I don’t know anybody with money. I’ve met them. But I mean, YOU meet a lot of people…”

Was Pamela calling me a hooker? Wasn’t this a subtle, but lethal, Uwatenage (over-arm throw)?
“You know,” (blithely), “all the journalists who stitched me up…something horrible happened to them: one guy went deaf, one had an accident, another one’s child died…”

This was no cheap Sumo move. This was a curse. Pamela was putting a curse on me (the curse of The Mantis?)…
“It just goes to show, that if you hurt somebody’s feelings and they haven’t done anything to you, it always comes back to you tenfold.”

Maybe it was the malaria, or the press-made paranoia, the pressures of work-aholism, but Pamela is prone to strange outbursts: Tsurio-toshi (lift-dump), Okuri-dashi (rear push-out), not to say Uchi-gake (inside leg trip).
“They feed off me. They want to possess me. I’ve seen everything, you know? Everybody’s true colours. I know where people are coming from. People can’t approach me because they can’t kid me…”
She looks down.

She can be a realist, too.
“People probably do look down on me – a lot of sick people. Some women are jealous of me (shrugs). Jealousy doesn’t bother me – it’s quite flattering. It makes me work harder, makes me achieve more.”

Like this – bitter, suspicious, isolated – with the candlelight casting a drawn, hard shadow to her features, Pamela Bordes doesn’t seem to like people much. But then, who would blame her? Asked if, at 30, she feels like a woman or a child, she thinks long and hard, tries to laugh.
“I feel like an old woman.”
She brushes her hair away with a thin hand, the only part of her that looks old.

The waiter, like a Gyoji (referee), stepped in, recognising Pamela and offering us drinks on the house. Pamela interprets this as part of her gift for attracting generosity.
“You see – people just do things for me.”
In this case, it’s a Drambuie on the rocks and a herb tea.

With a herb tea, she revives: speculating how ‘The Sea Slug’ has sex, wondering how one would find anything inside all the flab. Together we shudder about the thought of shagging The Sea Slug. Pamela giggles prettily about positions and argues in favour of the knee-trembler. On behalf of men everywhere, I shudder just thinking about it (no, not with excitement).

Dinner’s over. It’s 1am and she is going to her lab to see the day’s prints (for The Telegraph, The Independent, her book), and then up at 6am to go to Paris to meet her lawyer.

“I’ve built a life now, you know – exactly the way I want it. I don’t need anyone. I’ve got power inside me. When the time is right, the right man’ll just come for me. I don’t want a boyfriend. I don’t want to go to restaurants…”

I list some of the more positive aspects of a partner.
“A slave? Oh yeah, that would be nice. A wife, to do the cleaning, ironing, answer all the letters, speak to all the lawyers…”

Pamela Bordes is not looking for a man. She’s looking for a wife. I’m shocked. Until then she is, resolutely, alone. It’s been 3 years since she was with someone, as a couple – “and then it wasn’t very good”.

“I’m focussed. Keep my vision clear. Unless it’s to do with my work, I’m not really interested. I’ve forgiven all those jealous people for all the nasty things they did to me. I’ve had to work very hard, spiritually. But my life is more interesting now than it’s ever been.”

Throughout, Ms Bordes remains as inscrutable as a Sumo. The surface is carefully composed but you will never know what is going on underneath. She has decided how to be, is determined to be it, despite whatever distractions are put in front of her. If her sense of peace is as fragile as eggshells, as precarious as a Sumo wrestlers’ balance, whatever you might say about her, she has at least great courage, a Sumo’s courage.

Finally, she says about ‘The Scandal’: “don’t try to understand it. I haven’t figured it out myself. I’ve been through serious torture. I can’t begin to tell you how painful it’s been. But I’ve been working so hard. Eventually, my work will speak for itself. It’s been a long struggle.”

“I like being on my own. I’m a loner – I still go to the cinema by myself. My mother and my brother are the same – reclusive. No-one’s close to anyone.”

Her tone is dry and unemotional.
“I do my own work and I keep away from other people and just get on with it. I don’t need them. I feel as if I’ve survived.”

We hover to say goodbye. She shies away, out of practice, looks sheepish, then ducks out of the lamplight and leaves in the taxi, alone. As befits both a champion and his princess, no emotion is shown.

I perform the Yumitaes-shiki twirl – the end.