her hips are decorated with tattooed wings, and frame a svelte and lovely waist. What is she doing here, you wonder. Do men come in here with their girlfriends pour les allumer, to turn them on for later?

Now she finishes her drink and walks quickly over to the little door that leads backstage. Is she too a dancer? It appears that she must be. In that case, is such fraternisation in their terms of employment?

You are still an outside observer here, unfamiliar with the rules, but everyone knows it is forbidden to touch. The next girl, with vibrant milk-chocolate skin, is as perfect as any catwalk model, and bares her limbs with pride. Her dance is accompanied by another girl, dark also, with a sweet smile but a slightly protuberant stomach. The display seems less erotic than cruel – setting the petty imperfections of the one against the radiance of the other.

You scan them half-abstractedly, however, as the blonde has walked back into the room, in a white negligĂ©e which emphasises the essential – what? … innocence? purity? perhaps the only conceivable word is “chastity” – of her demeanour. You watch her as she moves to the back of the room.

I have gret wonder, be this lyght,
How that I lyve, for day ne nyght
I may nat slepe wel nygh noght;
I have so many an ydel thoght
Purely for defaut of slep

“Can I buy you a drink?”

[Smile] It is a pretty smile, and one which appears to denote assent.

“What would you like?”

She would, it seems, like a bourbon and coke. The barmaid is far from prompt, and seems to tender change with a little look of disapproval, which may mean that such gestures are not to be encouraged, but what’s there to lose?

“I guess you have to watch out what you eat and drink, as a dancer, I mean.”

She shrugs, looking already a little bored. Accepts the drink.

“I’m a teacher myself. I teach languages.”

You feel a momentary qualm at thus blowing your cover, but it is hard to

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