Sex… and the Germans

It’s cold outside. Yesterday I cycled up to the Ku’damm in the early spring sunshine. Today great flurries swirl down from a grey sky, covering trees and pavements, transforming our geriatric Golden Retriever into a puppy who snaps at flakes and chases snowballs. But she seems to be the only female on our street who is happy with the return of winter. Upstairs Frau Hut – a totally mad thirtysomething stage designer who sledge-hammered down a wall in her apartment and caused the ceiling to fall in – rang to tell me that she’s staying in bed today (more on her later). My own Mrs. Cat keeps looking longingly at the duvet and I’ve only managed to make it to my desk through a gargantuan force of will (and two strong espressos).

It’s disheartening to have the promise of spring torn away, unless you’re a snow-loving dog. So this morning, in an effort to lift spirits and keep warm, my thoughts are turning to sex…and the Germans.

Let me start with a confession. When I look at a bed I tend to think first and foremost about sex. I’m not alone here – no fun in that – for a new survey has revealed that sex is the number one favourite activity in bed for Brits. More surprisingly – to me at least – is that the same survey found many Germans consider chatting on the phone, reading and sleeping to be equally engaging activities in bed.

Now hold on a minute (as the actress said to the bishop). What about the general impression that Germans are gagging for it? Aren’t Berlin’s clubs pulsating with hungry Aryan bodies? Don’t Bavarian cross-country skiers do it in the Alps? This country’s reputation for enthusiastic love-making springs from the Golden Twenties myth, Germans’ sense of unfettered abandon when on holiday and their passion for naturalism (i.e. going starkers in public). It’s also due to the work of the late Beate Uhse, an entrepreneur who educated Germans on sexuality, sexual hygiene and contraception after the war, transforming demoralised couples back into happy fornicators. Uhse was responsible for opening the world’s first sex shop and today her company is the European leader in erotic products.

When I was young, the English had a reputation for considering sex to be, well, a bit of a chore. As George Mikes, the Hungarian-born British author, once wrote, ‘Continental people have a sex life; the English have hot-water bottles’. But apparently times have changed. In another international survey Germans are ranked as the worst lovers in the world (because they only think about their own pleasure in bed). Also unpopular are the Turks (too sweaty), the Swedes (too quick), the Dutch (too rough), the Americans (too dominating) and the Russians (too hairy).

It gets worse. A disappointing – and disappointed — 20 percent of German women and 41 percent of German men have never given their partner an orgasm. (No surprise then that three percent of women admit to planning household chores while having sex.) And when asked what would improve their love life, a depressing 12 percent of Germans said they didn’t have one. As for the rest of them, sex lasts here for an average of 17.6 minutes, if you want to set your watch.

But before Anglophone Romeos mount – sorry — their high horse and claim sexual superiority, bear in mind that another survey revealed that half of British men would give up sex for half a year in exchange for a new 50-inch TV set. As for those nubile Juliets, Unilever asked 1000 American women for how long they would stop bonking in exchange for a wardrobe of new clothes? The majority said 15 months.

The world’s best lovers, apparently, are the Italians (unless you prefer oral sex, in which case Austrians are for you – oral sex is performed there more often than in any other country). Goodness knows how they worked out any of these statistics but here in Berlin, as the snow falls and the temperature drops, one fact is for certain. I’m going back to bed. ‘Yoo hoo, Mrs. Cat, are you there?’