Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe


Just the Facts Ma’am

Defending my Dishonour Earthdate 2017.63

I didn’t want to break the law, especially in my new country. I had been living in the UK for about a year, and was about to open my own business, out of our home. So, I called ‘The Council’, the local municipal government. The first person I spoke to suggested I speak to another. Person Two explained the person I really needed to speak to had a phone phobia but I could send an email. OK, I can see how they roll. But, Person Two did explain that the biggest issue with working out of your house was typically the parking. If you had a lot of people coming at once and taking all the spaces, this is what neighbours would complain about. Meanwhile, I learned that: other people on our small, closed (dead-end) road also worked from home including a photographer and a couple of graphic artists (this makes the place sound a lot more arty than it is). I also got the advice that I should send the email stating that ‘no reply will be taken as permission to go forward.’ Brilliant, or ‘brill’ as we say here – why move your mouth more than necessary.

Although I had all intentions of continuing to work for the National Health Service (NHS) when we moved down here to the south coast of England, as I had been in outer London, either I pissed everyone off through the multiple interviews, or there really were funding cuts. In any case, I now had nothing to lose by using the odd little extension to our house for the purpose. It has a separate entrance into a small square room, a staircase up to another room, and a bathroom, all with a door separating it from the rest of the house. Perfect. I hung up the requisite diplomas and pictures, and put a doorbell in the waiting room with a sign to ring to let me know you’re here. Soon, my schedule was full.

Zeus was a great dog. 

This was the thank you card from his owner, Susan after I’d taken care of him for about a month while she recovered from surgery. Meanwhile, I got Zeus to stop a lot of his bad habits, which was very easy to do, but Susan seemed to think this was quite a feat.

One afternoon in the middle of a session with a very nice fellow, the doorbell rang. I assumed I’d made scheduling error and excused myself to see who it was. Downstairs stood a tall young, anxious looking man with an ID card hanging around his neck and a clipboard in his hand. He wasn’t anyone I knew.

“Hi, may I help you?” I smiled. He averted his gaze, pretended to look at the clipboard.

“Erm, yes. How many people work here?”

“Just me.”

“All the time?” He raised an eyebrow, looking emboldened.

I was surprised at how nervous I felt. “I did contact the Council and told them I’d be working from the house.” I swallowed hard. “They didn’t say there would be a problem (because of course they hadn’t said anything)”.

The young man just stared at me. Oh, no! They’re going to shut me down! Give me a fine! Deport me for doing psychology without special paperwork or a decoder ring! A vision of me in the hold of a very slow cargo ship back to the US flashed in my mind. He couldn’t cuff me, could he? Then I remembered the therapy client upstairs.

“I don’t know if you’d mind (always a good way to start a sentence in Britain), but I do have a client waiting upstairs for us to finish.” I checked the clock on the wall. “I’ll be done in about fifteen minutes. Can you wait?”

I thought he was going to throw up. He stuttered and looked everywhere but at me. He tried keeping his eyes on his trusty clipboard then all of a sudden his whole demeanour changed—like the governor just gave him a reprieve.

“What’s this house number?” he asked me.


“Oh, sorry, I was meant to go to number five.” He exhaled a happy sound. “It’s Ian back at the office. His handwriting is rubbish.” And with that he bounded out of the waiting room.

Later that evening while I was scouting the fridge for the world’s easiest dinner my husband came in and leaned against the counter wearing a wry smile.

“You want hear something interesting?”


“Well,” he said with great promise. “Do you know the woman who lives at number five?” This was a rhetorical question, so he continued. “Paul, you know, the guy next-door, has been calling the Council and complaining because the woman at number five has had customers coming and going all day and night. The neighbours have been complaining about not being able to park.”

I emerged from the fridge. “Ah, the old parking problem.”

“Yup, customers every twenty minutes…” David’s smile was bigger. He was holding on to the punch line.

“OK, I give up. What’s that’s about?”

“Sex. She works as a prostitute!”

So here I was on a street lined with neatly kept Edwardian houses, in a ‘good area’ (read, boring). It was my turn to grin. This was just what the neighbourhood needed as far as I as concerned. I mean of course, only if she actually enjoyed her work, which in my understanding was possible although rare in the sex industry.

Paul, who’s a devout church member, had been having regular discussions with Ms Five about her soul. But according to Paul, the woman was steadfast. She had been in the sex trade for over 25 years. The money was good and she could choose her own hours, and it is perfectly legal.

That’s right, it’s completely legal to sell sex for money here in Britain as long as you are at least 18, do it indoors, and don’t solicit business outside. And you can only have one person providing the sex at any given time. Someone else can take bookings or clean for example, while another person provides the services. Otherwise, if there’s more than one person providing sex at a time, then that’s considered a brothel, and that is illegal.

“So how old is she?” I couldn’t believe it, but I was insulted. This young guy was completely disgusted at the idea of me selling sex!? Huh!? Should I have David find him and defend my dishonour?

“She’s fifty.”

That was older than I was at the time. I was really mad.