With the invention of the internet, socially inept young people millions of miles apart found a new way to get laid. Cyber sex produced all the emotional benefits of the real thing without all that tiresome nudity, squelchy noises and guilt.

But long-distance shagging is nothing new. The Internet did not invent it, merely produced a new and more convenient method of doing it. I will now present to you the entire history of the phenomenon which I concisely compiled (made up) one grey Thursday morning.

The first recorded occurrence of spiritual love (as it was then known) was by Alexander the Great in about (insert number here)BC. Alex was a notoriously virile man and at the time he was having to go to an awful lot of wars against naughty people like the Spartans, and thus deprive his many lovers of his presence for long periods of time. After catching one of his girls in the bed of a suitor for the fourth time running (only forgiving the suitor when he promised to make Alex a free suit), he realised he needed to find a way to satisfy his lady friends while not at home.

At first he employed slaves to wear masks bearing his likeness and bed his women, but these slaves were often lynched to death by fellow slaves who hadn't gotten laid in years. Finally he hit upon the idea of beginning a correspondence of messages in which he would explain to his girlfriends (the few ones that hadn't run off with their slaves) exactly what he would be doing to them if he was actually there.

And so the history of spiritual love began.

The messages Alex sent were tied to arrows and fired from the very tops of his fortresses. He employed only his best archers for this job so most of the time they reached their destinations, carried on warm air updrafts. But it was still an inexact science at best, and many of Alex's men remembered fondly the day their leader discovered that he had been corresponding explicitly with an unnamed Spartan soldier for ten months.

It isn't widely known, but Alex was eventually killed by one of these message arrows sent from one of his lady friends. He was the butt of jokes for centuries afterwards, and his death certificate - filled out by Hippocrates who was notorious for his sense of humour - reported that the great man was 'Loved to Death'.

When the Romans conquered Greece they insinuated into their civilization many aspects of Greek culture, among them the practise of long-distance lovin'. The Romans - perverted bastards to a man - didn't really have much use for the activity, as when they fancied a screw there was nearly always a pretty young thing or an orgy to invade nearby. So it wasn't until after the Roman Empire fell and the Dark Ages began in Britain (then called Britaine, as every word in this era had to end with an 'e') that spiritual love became common practise again.

In the castles and courts of medieval England, men were constantly horny and women had to wear at least thirty-seven layers. This did not a happy combination make. Often it took so long for the women to undress for bed that by the time they were finished the men had already fallen asleep, woken up the following morning and gone off to the hunt.

It was the Duke of Northumberland, Robert 'Ravisher' Gadling, who began the ancient practise of cyber sex again. He was a professional adventurer and spent a lot of time away from home, and so frequently would resort to sending explicit messages to his wife about what he was thinking about doing to her. The message-tied-to-arrow practise now having fallen out of favour with the rulers of the country after the unfortunate business with King Harold in 1066, messages were now sent by servants who were bred specially for long legs and good speaking voices. Conditioning, however, could not prevent the messenger from reading out Lord Gadling's messages even when his wife had company.

The Duchess of York was visiting Lady Gadling when one of her husband's messages arrived, and wrote in her diary: 'I was yn the parloure wythe Lorde Gadling's byt of fluffe when a redde-faced messynger arryved and reportyd "My lady, I am kissinge you fulle on your rosey lyps and sneakyng a hande into youre tyghts". Lady Gadling seemed quyte gratefulle for the corryspondence, and tolde the messynger that she was "runninge my handes uppe and down youre backe and exploryng youre mouthe wythe my tongue". I thoughte the womyn had gone madde, and takyng a vase in my hande, did smyte her uponne the bonce. She was moste dyspleased.'

Gadling was something of a trend-setter, and soon the practise was the latest craze among the gentry until the reign of Henry VIII, when the new craze among women of the court was marrying the King. The ladies of England fought to marry the big hairy bastard, and many carved a notch in their bedpost for every time they married the King. The final winner was Anne Boleyn, who achieved a massive 7 notches before it was discovered that her name was actually Alan Boleyn, and was immediately executed by a very red-faced monarch.

After Henry died and during the reign of Elizabeth I, that notoriously frigid queen, spiritual shagging became the norm once again. Shakespeare was thought to be quite a keen long-distance lover, and many scholars argue that the original script of the Merry Wives of Windsor was misinterpreted by his readers, and was in fact a lengthy transcript of the sex correspondence between the bard and his missus.

Then the Puritans took over England. These cast-iron fundamentalists hated all forms of entertainment, and despised cyber bonking above all else. Seeking solace in their bible they took the story of Onan, translated it into Hebrew, French, Latin, back to French, Spanish, a language called Puritany that they made up on the spot, German then English, and came up with the following:

"3. And thus the boy Onan did not bed his wife, but went off on his holidays instead,
4. Sending to his betrothed a message on swanky parchment, in which he detailed how much he would enjoy kneading her melon breasts,
5. And the delightful nipples thereon, but sadly could not as he was not in her presence.
6. And thus Onan was damned by the Lord forever, for the Lord hateth those who are all mouth and no trousers."

And so spiritual love died, along with many of its exponents during the infamous 'Naughty Parchment Purge' of 1630, and Britain entered a long, depressing time of good behaviour and etiquette. Eventually even the Puritans realised how boring life had become with no-one left to burn, and fled to the New World of America where they could at least have the excitement of spreading a few venereal diseases to the natives.

It wasn't until centuries later with the invention of the telephone (the telephone had in fact been invented in 1674 but proved useless until Alexander Graham Bell invented the other one) that spiritual love enjoyed a comeback. The man Graham Bell himself knew the potential of his device for the act, and reportedly his first words down the line to his partner Watson were "Come here, Watson, I want you." This exposed their sordid affair to the world and left them both the butt of jokes for years until they both died. Even then they were buried in the same grave.

But the telephone lived on and enjoyed extreme popularity. At first people were cautious and businesslike with the device, and only when Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig (of the British army in the First World War) used his phone to call his wife and tell her what he intended to do to her when he got back home did long-distance bonking come back into fashion.

To dwell on the fact that Sir Douglas had a crossed wire and was in fact talking to the notorious German flying ace Baron Von Richtoven putting on a silly voice is surely to miss the point.

And so, that is how cyber sex began. Now every time you're pretending to be a 17-year-old cheerleader and are cyber-fumbling with someone also pretending to be a 17-year-old cheerleader, think back to that great pioneer Alexander the Great, and give thanks for the great idea that led to the awkward social situation you now find yourself in.

I can't believe I wrote this much crap.

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