It's a cruel irony that the time of the year that lends itself best to carnal relations, (drink flowing, time off work) is also the time you're most likely to be staying with family.
And, as we all know, the fear of being over-heard by your other half's protective father is not the biggest aphrodisiac around.
But gentlemen: fear not. As ever, where there's a will, there's a way.
Sex at the in-laws (that doesn't involve hideous morning-after awkwardness as a direct result of that squeaky mattress) is possible.
Being the helpful lot that we are, we're shining a light on this trickest of practices, to help keep your Christmas as merry as possible. Simply adhere to the do's and don't listed below.
DO check for squeaky floorboards if forced to sleep in separate rooms, so as not to alert the in-laws to your furtive liaisons. Walk close to the walls where floorboards are less trodden and unlikely to squeak. An ex-SAS man gave me that tip.
DON’T neglect the basics. If you’re given clearance to share a bed, prevent tell-tale staining by putting a towel over the bottom sheet. Preferably one of your own rather than one from the communal bathroom. Unless you literally want to rub her father’s nose in it the next morning.
DO check the proximity of the headboard to the wall. You’ll avoid embarrassing questions at breakfast by pulling it out a few inches to reduce unnecessary hammering. Likewise, the headboard.
DON’T leave used condoms lying around. Toilets in older houses have weaker flush systems, so don’t run the risk of it making a delayed reappearance. Better to put it in your pocket and bin it when out of the house. Beware the family dog that fishes it from said pocket and proudly plonks it on the lounge carpet after mistaking it for an old Locket.
DO check the bed for squeaky springs. And prepare an explanation for when you’re caught entering the bedroom with an oily rag and a can of WD-40.
DO turn any photos of her as a little girl face down, or at least out of eye-line, if sleeping in her old bedroom. Otherwise, from here on, even when she is wearing nothing but Agent Provocateur’s finest and a come-hither smile, all you will see is that innocent schoolgirl in a brownie uniform, cuddling a hamster.
DON’T forget that, due to prostate conditions, men of a certain age make frequent trips to the toilet during the night. Don’t be surprised to walk in on her dad in the bathroom in the early hours. No doubt smelling the towels suspiciously.
DON’T be inhibited by the fact that you are both forbidden to make any noise. Having silent sex can be exciting, and she will find you whispering in her ear a huge turn-on.
DO reduce the risk of being caught; position a mirror to see if the door is opened. I failed to heed this advice and a mother-in-law caught me performing cunnilingus on her daughter on the bed that she’d kindly given up for us.
DON’T have the bedroom TV on so loud that it’s obvious you’re drowning out the sound of something altogether more carnal. If her parents can hear that repeat of Only Fools And Horses downstairs, you might consider drawing less attention to yourselves – by fucking on the lounge sofa wearing fairy lights while her dad passes round the nuts.
DO, no matter how many glasses of Tia Maria you’ve had, resist the temptation to put her dad’s hat on when you’re finally both naked and alone in the spare room. Or even wear it on your head. Similarly, don’t ask her to put her mum’s glasses on. Women don’t find that sort of thing funny.
DON’T, on any account, bring any sex toys into the house. You might be able to pass off a discreet vibrator as a high-tech electric toothbrush, but hiding the anal love beads in a family-sized packet of Revels is a disaster waiting to happen.