My friend, Celia, makes driving whips for a living. She keeps them all in the kitchen area. I was staying with her the other week and, one day, I stood admiring one in particular.
"It's Victorian," she said. "What do you think it's made of?"
It was a creamy colour and a little like bone, only more flexible. I had no idea what it was made of so I listed every material I could think of and then gave up.
"I'll give you a clue," said Celia. "Men would present these whips to their betrothed on their engagement."
I pushed images of Victorian S&M as far out of my mind as possible.
The whip turned out to be made out of a bull's penis.
The little joke/coded message there is obvious: "I'm hung like a bull!" says our Victorian gentleman. Good for him. Men never change, do they?
I can't help wondering, though, what the lucky recipient of the bull's-cock-turned-driving-whip would have felt. Amused? Embarrassed? Erotic excitement? Supposing she was a virgin, would it not have been a little terrifying, to be presented with this thing, three feet long, with the unspoken assurance that your intended plans to rip you in half? It's hardly romantic, really.