One of the dangers of teaching your children to read at an early age is that they will just pick up anything that’s lying around the house or on the shelves of the local library and start reading it because it’s got words in. This inevitably leads to questions about the words. I clearly remember when I was a little boy asking my dad:

“What’s a “prostitute”?”

Despite his Catholic upbringing (and mine), he replied, cool as you like:

“Someone who sells sexual favours for money.”

A Playboy advice column once cynically stated: “Any man who claims never to have paid for sex is either a fool or a virgin”, but, desperate as I have often been, I’ve never resorted to buying “sexual favours”—even when, after a gig near an airfield, I was approached by one of the most beautiful women ever to strike up a conversation with me. Just as I was beginning to think I was the man, an American flyboy who had been in the audience warned me quietly that other pilots who had been foolish enough to fall for the [tabloidspeak]”stunning redhead”[/tabloidspeak]—woke up the next morning with lighter wallets and wiser heads.

But I am becoming more and more annoyed lately by the government information ads I’ve been hearing on local radio warning me of grave consequences if I am caught “kerb crawling”. They make me want to drive my red hatchback slowly into a red-light district as a protest (and a feeble attempt at innuendo).

This made me smile though:

In an effort to curb his town’s prostitution problem, the Mayor of Padua announced a new law that would see a 50 euro fine to any car spotted “stopping traffic” by accosting a lady of the night. About one hundred protesting prostitutes marched on Padua in response. To add to the furore, the organised sex workers decided to offer free nookie to all those who had been fined. All the nicked cruisers have to do is show the receipt of their fine, and they get a pink sticker in exchange. Currently, about 90 per cent of the prostitutes in Padua are offering their services gratis to those exhibiting this sticker.