When I first heard this phrase, apparently loaded with sexual euphemism, it only brought to mind my vain attempts to create animal silhouettes on a wall in the beam of a torch. As a schoolboy I was more than a little surprised to see how angry was Desdemona’s father on hearing that she was playing shadow theatre with Othello.
Quick research has revealed that the phrase is defined, at best, as “a euphemistic metaphor for two persons engaged in sexual intercourse” which description does little to conjure up the joy, let alone the fun, of fucking. That’s the problem with definitions.
In the 1980’s I was commissioned by the Sunday Times to go to Edinburgh in order to photograph two Scottish ladies who were currently editing the celebrated Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. The dictionary was famous for it’s amusing and irreverent definitions such as “an éclair – a cake long in shape but short in duration” or “mullet – a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back and ridiculous all round”. All examples of this light hearted approach were inexplicably removed by the publishers in the 1970’s . In the early 1980’s a more enlightened management had seen the folly of these omissions and had entrusted these two ladies with the task of replacing them, whilst simultaneously including a selection of more current terms. I asked one of them to give me an example and, in my mind, I can still clearly hear her Edinburgh lilt, reminiscent of Miss Jean Brodie, as, with a wicked smile, she quietly intoned “just take the words “girl friend” which, today, have nearly become a term of abuse”
I do not have a version of that dictionary, although there is no doubt that my book shelves would be the better for it, so I can only surmise as to the two gentle-ladies’ definition of “the beast with two backs”. Google has turned up several breath taking examples, happily lacking any sign of political correctness.
“Wendy and Marcus made the beast with two backs after serious foreplay” which makes it quite clear that two backed beasts can only be made heterosexually, which has not been made clear to the two bulls in the above picture.
“Your girlfriend and your best friend are making the beast with two backs” is, without doubt, the editor’s attempt to clear up any such confusion…..
However, this one may be the clearest definition, avoiding any equivocation.” The frightening, moaning creature that two people become when they engage in intercourse” although, as sexual intercourse is not clearly stated, it would be wise not to behave as a frightening, moaning creature when engaged in social intercourse which behaviour, on reflection, is not that unusual.