Sins of Corinth began with a rather off the wall thought while I was walking through Preston town centre. The council had recently had a set of automatic toilet cubicles installed in the main shopping area, one of which had already been seriously vandalised. I got to thinking about how the cubicles inside were just about big enough for prostitutes to conduct their business if they weren’t too particular. Then my imagination conjured the ‘sex booths’ which would be considerably nicer than these toilets, on a world where the sex industry was regarded as far more acceptable than it is here. Thus the women with golden tails and three breasts came to mind.

But how could I use a planet like that? Theta Sigma, Marion and Kristoph, Eleven, New Lords of Time are all far more PG. Nothing of that sort would fit. It would have to be a Torchwood post watershed story, but Torchwood is Earth bound. So it would have to be something Jack knew about from his shady past and for some reason related to one of his colleagues.

Anyway, I got the chase part of the story written, and the conversation with Jack which explained about the girls, but I wasn’t sure where to take it after that.

Then I had the idea of the ladies doing business on Earth, and the character of Donald Mackinson, MSP, friend and client of the Fessian ladies of pleasure who would introduce Lady Heather Galloway to Owen Harper. Lady Heather, was inspired by a character in CSI Las Vegas who does a similar job. The name just seemed to fit rather well. It’s also the name of my sister and a lady I know at church, neither of whom do anything like that, so it just goes to show there’s nothing in a name. Galloway does, in fact mean ‘foreigner’ in Gaelic. I imagine the Galloway area of lowland Scotland was named by Highlanders with firm ideas about what was true Scots. Anyway, Donald Mackinson proves a friend not only to Torchwood but to Lady Heather and lets her tell Owen about the girls who have gone missing.

Which leads Torchwood Glasgow on a hunt not only for alien sex workers but ordinary Human ones and a couple of missing vampires, too. Since this isn’t an episode of some detective series, and since Torchwood do have a lot of technology at their disposal that the police don’t, I think I was justified in bringing in the clue to their whereabouts quickly. I didn’t want any messing about.

The seemingly throwaway subplot about the sex hormones and Dougal turning straight for a ‘tuppenny upright’ with one of Lady Heather’s girls has a payback later, of course.

I was at a dead end again for a while, though, until I went to bible study night at church. The discussion was one of St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in which he castigates the Christians there for indulging in sexual immorality. Corinth in those times was, apparently, a place of sin and debauchery of every sort. There were temples where the priestesses were essentially available for sex, and all kinds of goings on, and Paul was dead set against it. It is from this section of biblical teaching that the phrase ‘your body is a temple’ comes from and the idea of not indulging in impurities that would befoul it.

“Flee Sexual Immorality

6:12 “All things are lawful for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me” – but I will not be controlled by anything. 6:13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 6:14 Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power. 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 6:16 Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 6:17 But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. 6:18 Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body” – but the immoral person sins against his own body. 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 6:20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.”

It occurred to me while we were reading all of that that the sex trade in most major cities of the world isn’t too far away from that of Corinth, except it goes on in more discreet ways.

Then in the same bible study night we saw a video about a place in Yorkshire where young women who have not been treating their bodies as temples, but have been addicted to drugs, drink, sexual activities and so on might go on retreat and recover through a regime of prayer and clean living. It all sounded very nice, but even some of the more devout in our group wondered if treating these vulnerable women as sinners and offering them prayer was the best way to solve their problems. Some of them obviously needed medical help as well and it wasn’t at all clear that it was being provided.

Anyway, I had been thinking vaguely about aliens abducting the women from the streets of Glasgow for some kind of harem, but having heard about this Retreat, I had a completely different idea. They were being taken by an extreme religious fundamentalist who wanted to cure them of their sin. Of course, I am not in any way demeaning places like the Retreat in that video which may well do good work for the women who go there on a voluntary basis. This is religious mania gone too far across the line.

The idea of the women in the Retreat in Glasgow choosing to have their erogenous zones operated upon to remove the temptation of sexual enjoyment was a little daring even for a Torchwood story. Clitoral removal has gone one for centuries and still goes on in some parts of the world now, for the precise reason of reducing the sexual drive of women. It is actually not especially far-fetched. Only the presence of the three-breasted alien women and the pair of vampires among the victims brought it into Torchwood’s realm.

The payoff about those hormones, of course, comes when Munroe Macdonald, the nice, middle-aged member of the team, gets an unbidden arousal in the middle of the investigation of the McFarlane Institute. That’s his clue that the missing women are there. Munroe then acts to type by measuring the room with his eyes and determining that it is too small for the windows and then against type with the violence of his action when he throws the chair through the stud wall.

Munroe goes against type later, too, when he spends a little time with Lady Heather’s girls and comes back smiling. He admits to not having much of a sex life since his wife died some years ago and that he would be taking up the offer of discount services in future, much to everyone’s surprise.

I think this is not a story I will be asking anyone in my church group to read. They have quite a different idea about me than this. But as a Torchwood story I think it has all the right elements, including that once in a while twist that it’s the humans that are the real monsters.