Our mum is a SEXPERT
WOMAN - UK|January 24, 2022
As life imitates television drama, Rowan Pelling reflects on the embarrassment her profession has caused for her two sons
Rowan Pelling

Back in January 2019, my elder son, then nearly 15, announced he’d watched a new drama series called Sex Education on Netflix: ‘The mother in it is just like you, Mum.’ I hadn’t seen the show yet, but I hoped he meant glamorous, intelligent, witty and wise. What he actually wanted to convey was: ‘She talks about sex all the time and her son finds her really embarrassing.’

With the third series of Sex Education now on Netflix, half the nation knows the mother-son dynamic that my own son Scobie was discussing.

Teenage Otis is the only child of sex therapist and single mum Dr Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), who’s always issuing unsolicited erotic advice to her boy, trying to grill him about his private life – or, worse, write about it.

I’m not a therapist, but I have been writing, pontificating and broadcasting about sex for 25 years now; first as Editor of the Erotic Review magazine, then as a sex columnist for various publications. The books I’ve edited include titles such as The Decadent Handbook, The Erotic Review Bedside Companion and Erotic Stories.

I once presented a sex-themed chat show, Sweet Talk, on Channel 4, which was so risqué we had to film in Amsterdam. And I’ve fronted short documentaries on a variety of renowned erotic writers and painters.

What never occurred to me, until I had my sons, was how all this sex talk would impinge on my offspring. At first, I avoided any impact by having two personalities: at the school gates in Cambridge, I used my married name; I only became Pelling when my train reached London’s King’s Cross.

My cover was blown

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