After all the Bibling, this line from a detective novel is what got me:

She had just returned from tailing Geraint to Portcullis House. Observing him from a distance, she had seen how the polite smiles of the many young women he greeted turned to expressions of dislike as he passed.

This sentence shocked me when I read it, and it has haunted me since.

The novel is Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling); “she” is Robin Ellacot, one of the pair of detectives in the series of novels; and Geraint Winn is a pervy creep of an MP who stares down women’s blouses, and makes passes and lewd remarks.

I don’t think I’m as bad as he is … but who am I to say? It’s not really for me to judge — as this single sentence made clear.

Celebrating a successful Lent


I am publishing this post to:

  • celebrate my successful Lenten fast
  • take stock and plan next steps

I am impressed with myself that I got through more than forty days with no porn — so far 47 days and still going, and I am not planning to have a binge any time soon.

The other habits didn’t get any worse, but I didn’t manage to add them to the fast as I thought I might.


As noted in my previous post, I am feeling more emotionally tender. The lack of porn is exposing my need for affection. I need the “friendly faces” of the “pin-ups”, of the not-quite-porn.

I am also noticing — and responding positively to — my wife’s needs for affection. I don’t know how much potential is there but something might open up.

The biggest mood drain is twitter — just normal twitter use and its aimlessness.

What next?

  • Re-instate the “twitter coin” rule: toss a coin first thing every morning: heads = twitter allowed today, and no twitter tomorrow; tails = no twitter today.
  • keep up the “no actual porn” rule, but prepare some breaks. A planned break, with some structure (?) might be less harmful to the overall path than randomly running out of steam. Aim for a sustainable gradient.
  • Notice and write about (here or in my diary):
    • any growing physical affection from S
    • my yearnings, what I do about them, and what effect that has
  • Learn to pray about these things too. Write prayerfully.

Celebrating a (so far) successful Lent #porn #pornfree

I am publishing this post to:

  • celebrate success so far
  • guard against some weakening I’ve been feeling lately
  • renew and tighten up my conviction

My Lenten fast this year is simple, or at least, simply put: “no porn”. Do not look at pornography. No more, and no less.

no less: “Do not look at pornography” should be an easy aim to follow, but in the last few years my longest breaks have lasted days only, so for me right now this — 48 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Monday — is a significant stretch goal.

no more: If you’ve read the about page like you should have, you will know I have other linked bad habits I want to extricate myself from. My Lenten fast this year does not target these. “Do not look at pornography” does not include

  • do not masturbate
  • do not look at, eye up, or lust after women

So far (day 39) my fast has been completely successful. I have looked at zero porn since the beginning of Lent.

The weakening I’m feeling is not easy to describe. I’m not feeling urges to go look at porn. I think perhaps the weaknesses/frailties that make me more vulnerable/open to the attractions of porn are more exposed. Consequently, I find myself fishing around in the edges of things that are “not quite porn”. Consequently, I want to renew and reaffirm, and maybe even tighten up the goal (even though there’s only a few days left).


Focussing on the main goal, I’ve let those other bad habits find their own level. Predictably or not, they have been affected. I am masturbating about half as much as before. My looking and lusting hasn’t changed much. My sexual fantasising has changed.

When I’m immersed in porn, my fantasies are essentially collages of porn tableaux with situations and faces from my daily life. Away from porn, I am drifting into sexual fantasy almost as often, but the stories are more kissy dialogue and smiles.

Perhaps these fantasies are more directly addressing my need for companionship, with their loving gazes and caresses.

The “not-quite-porn” I’ve been reaching for in recent days has been (a) lingerie web sites (eg Jane Woolrich, Simone Perele), and (b) pics of smiley daytime TV presenters like Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway. Reaching for (b) especially after some blow-up or scratchiness from my wife Sara.

I’m not craving the “hard-core” porn videos that were such a staple and are so easy to access nowadays.

Last September I did an online quiz (Online Evaluation: Sexual Sin) which was very good and detailed. Some of the results were surprising but rang true. In particular it separated “soft” and “hard” pornography, and showed that my taste for soft porn was much stronger that that for hard porn. My experience this Lent bears that out. Their definitions were slightly different from mine, and their definition of “soft porn” would include what I call “not-quite-porn” above.

So for this last week of Lent I will include things like those lingerie web sites and celeb watch twitter accounts in my explicit ban.

How I continue after the Resurrection is a story for another time.

Outsourcing Decision

I finally finished Better than Before. I can’t say I liked the style — far too chatty for me — but I made lots of notes and it gave me lots of ideas. One idea in the book was “outsourcing decision”, eg to a schedule: I make the decision to put something on a schedule, but once it’s on the schedule I just follow that. The schedule idea can be used to encourage activity / build a habit (eg go to the gymn every morning) or to ration an activity / weaken a bad habit (eg only eat junk food on Thursdays).

One bad habit I have is surfing twitter. In moments of boredom or mild anxiety it is very accessible and very easy to while away … too long. And it leaves me not refreshed but even more enervated. “Just take it off the phone!” but Twitter is occasionally useful/informative/cheering/etc — only about 10% of the time perhaps, but you never know which 10%.

Twitter itself is not the danger, but the way I use it — the association with boredom, anxiety, …, and the way it fills and even expands that anxious moment.

Scheduling “twitter time” didn’t feel right, so my brainwave has been to toss a coin first thing in the morning: Heads = twitter; Tails = no twitter today.

Amazingly, it works. If the coin turns up tails I don’t even think about looking at twitter that day. Even several days in a row. I’ve been on the programme for a month now and it is very robust.


  • It is weakening my twitter habit overall: on twitter days I surf less and tend to catch up, then close the app. Interesting links I email myself rather than just like or bookmark.
  • It is weakening the association with boredom/anxiety: the association is now with the random coinflip.
  • It means I am having to find other ways to respond to boredom/anxiety. As these are not habitual but are consciously chosen they tend to be more wholesome — eg go & get something to eat, do a minor household chore.

So far so good. It has not been an unalloyed success however. Just as the “Tails” gives a strong and effective prohibition that I don’t question, the “Heads” gives a strong feeling of permission. This over-rides an earlier prohibition that had been working quite well (more on that another time but you can probably guess).

So — more work needed, but a simple, powerful and fairly effective device.

Look / Look away

Into the accountants’ the other day to hand in some forms. Pretty new receptionist caught me by surprise. We hit it off immediately — friendly, chatty, jokey — that level of office life just before flirty. We did various business with the forms. She bent down to do something on the computer. Like a snap of the fingers my eyes bounced down her blouse and back to see the frilly edge of her bra. All the forms were in order, so I bade my farewells and left. Only when closing the door behind me did I notice that those last few seconds she’d been decidedly chilly.

My eyes — no — I did it. I looked down her blouse. Was it just my eyes? Maybe I craned my neck. Was I wearing my glasses? Fishbowl eyeballs out on stalks.

It’s happened so many times. I much prefer the before to the after.

Habits. Expectations. Hardened patterns. Desire lines.

Perhaps the only way to break a habit/expectation is to create a new, stronger expectation. A new desire line, and let the old one grass over. Old demons never die, they just fade away.

If the stimulus is a sudden opportunity — quick grab it now! — the new response can’t be based on a morality or depend on working something out. It has to be a clear pattern I can just take down “off the shelf” and have it ready for triggering situations.

I think of the waiter or shop assistant who ostentatiously looks away when I tap in my credit card pin (before the days of contactless). It’s almost like a pantomime or a dance step. They do it so I can see — even out of the corner of my eye — that they are not looking at the keypad. It’s a similar friendly/flirty situation. I have waited and served (temp jobs for beer money while a student) so I know that side of it too.

The receptionist might appreciate it too — as long as I avoid the “see, I didn’t look down your blouse: aren’t I fantastic!?” — so we can keep the friendly atmosphere.

A quick glimpse of a bit of bra is a meagre trophy.

Masturbation is a worship disorder !?

This blog post (below) and Scripture must have caught me at the right moment. Mind blown.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 – especially verse 4

3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband.

Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife.

5 Do not deprive each other, except by mutual consent and for a time, so you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again, so that Satan will not tempt you through your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5



I like #porn

I like porn:


  • I like looking at the photos
  • I like watching the videos
  • I like making up and elaborating porn-based sex fantasies
  • I enjoy masturbating

Disgusting and shameful to admit declare these things explicitly — I daren’t say “confess” — but it’s no good to lie about it either. It’s a problem that I do these things; it’s perhaps more of a problem that I want to do them, I enjoy them.

I like other things just as much, if not more:


  • I like the feeling of power when I am on form
  • I like the warmth of people smiling at me
  • I like the full-body sensuality of yoga
  • I love the feeling of being alive when I am plugged into a good book

Indulging in set B pleasures has no effect on my ability to enjoy set A activities, but indulging in set A pleasures weakens my ability to enjoy set B activities. On that criterion alone I should avoid set A and prefer set B.

More generally, enjoying set B strengthens me, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. I am happier and better company.

Over-indulging in set A weakens me. It erodes my ability to concentrate or follow a path. I become bored, irritable, depressed. The very definition of a vice.

My ability to enjoy set A activities seems very robust, and always available. The slightest trigger will set my mind or my eyes or my hands wandering.

Set B seems harder to hold. Either I put it off because I think I don’t deserve it (there is always work to be done), or it seems beyond my power. I noticed after making up these two lists that A are voiced actively and B passively — really it is the other way around.


  • how can I envisage B as active? As creating myself (rather than expending myself, in A)?
  • gravitate towards B
  • find B substitutes when I am triggered towards A (diary exercise: given a specific trigger that led me to A, think of a B that might have answered)

Angels of the Id #porn

DLW is away, has been away since before Christmas (I accompanied her on her mission over Christmas), and will probably be away until February. When there is no work the next day, I am staying up very late. Partly, I seem to get a “second wind” as tiredness from the day wears off. Partly, I am sure the … reluctance to go to bed … is a kind of subconsciously avoiding porn, until I am too tired to want it.

The evening fills up with household chores & minor activities, one at a time, my desire to watch one of these long porn vids I have set aside always there in the background, always rising to the surface, but never quite getting there.

Often my desire starts the day explicit and firm — a plan to spend the evening — but as the evening arrives, that demon’s voice is hidden by other more civilised voices. I want to …

  • play a game of chess
  • tidy away that laundry
  • do a language lesson
  • wrap that present for Sara
  • find out about this poet/singer

I can’t say my desire for porn has decreased, it’s just that it has competition. Unfortunately, it’s a competition that rages, quietly, into the small hours.

Old Testament reading plan 2022

Isaiah2Jan, Feb
Jeremiah2Mar, Apr
The 12 Minor Prophets2Jun, Jul
Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther1Aug
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Daniel1Sep
Proverbs2Nov, Dec

After the Prophets (the 12 Minor Prophets stands for the books Hosea to Malachi), I’m doing a bit of damage to the ordering. August is my wife’s birth month & I thought it would be inspiring for me to read these three books about women. I don’t know the Ruth and Esther stories at all. The Song of Songs … I know all those things Christians say about it being a metaphor for the church but the poem is clearly about sex, the smells and tastes of sex, the physical passion of sex.

I’m giving myself a bit of slack with Proverbs, partly as I might want to dwell and abide over verses more than with more narrative books, partly to give Psalms the new year.

I’m minded to let the Psalms sprawl over at least the first half of 2023. I’ve read through them a couple of times already. This time I might do something special (read some crit at least; try writing versions — a sonnet of Ps 19?).