The problem with being a dedicated social trouble-maker who has not self-destructed is that, as the decades roll by, the society you wish to irritate gets used to you and even begins to regard you with a certain affection. Eventually, you become a beloved puppy that is always forgiven for soiling the carpet. No matter what taboos you kick out at, people just smile and shake their head. Germaine Greer has become a licensed controversialist, which is a pity because we ought to have someone in our ageing generation who still has the capacity to really piss people off. But look, here we are in the grip of the most virulent antipathy to the notion of any kind of sexual exchange between generations, and there's Greer, at the end of the television documentary made to coincide with this book, on a double bed, a fully-dressed sturdy matron hunched over the perfect naked body of a reclining 16-year-old male model, blowing playfully at the rose petals that barely cover his genitals while he tries to retrieve the petals and keep his bits concealed.
'They're all disappearing to Earls Court down there,' she says, pecking tenderly at his neck and cheeks.
'So's your hand,' he mutters.
Germaine giggles prettily. 'No, no, I never touched him,' she mugs for the camera.
LRB 8 January 2004 | PDF Download