When I was thirteen, my father occasionally came to visit us for the weekend. There were a lot of things I assumed about his visits, back then. Like, for instance, the fact that he and my mother shared a bedroom only because there was no spare bedroom. They were, after all, separated.
We lived in a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house: one bedroom for me, one for my older brother, and one for my mum. Hers was the master bedroom, even though she dwelt in it alone most of the time, joined by her estranged husband just once every few months. They shared a bedroom out of pure convenience. So that my dad could visit the kids. Aka me and my brother. My parents only slept together because there was no spare bedroom for estranged husbands. Obviously there was no sex involved. I mean, come on, my mother was mid-forties, my father mid-sixties … Uugh! Gross!
That’s what I thought back then, at any rate. No way could my parents actually do things like that. Just because they shared the same bed? NO WAY!
But my fellow 13-year-old friends, who attended the same secondary school as me, soon put me in the true picture. The ikky picture.
“Of course they’re shagging!” the worldy-wise Debs scoffed at me, holding her sneaky ciggie behind her back. Amazing how obtuse teachers on duty could be.
I blinked at her. I’d only recently come back from the illustrious American International School of Vienna, surrounded by trees and hills and beauty; a Utopian place where I’d dwelt in some previous existence before moving to the UK – to Preston in Lancashire, specifically. And falling straight from heaven. Hard. Just like these girls were. And there I was, so innocent … I’d never even heard of the word she’d just uttered through smoky breath. Breath that smelt like my grandad’s, who was on 40 Benson & Hedges a day.
“Shagging?” I politely enquired of my adolescent superior. “What’s that?”
Debs rolled her eyes. “Fucking, you dill! What’re you like?”
“Oh.” I lowered my eyes. And blushed. Not because of the f-word she’d just used, or the dill word, which I’d become familiar with by now, having heard it several times in reference to my fresh American gullibility, apparently. No, I blushed mainly because of the image she had just conjured in my head – that of my parents – who surely didn’t fancy each other any longer? – actually doing … that. Uugh!
Being a budding writer already, my novelistic imagination plunged into over-drive. Innocent or not, I knew what fucking meant. Blasphemous images of humping and heaving and moaning and groaning and perhaps even emitting the odd scream or two (of physical delight, obviously, not the angry screaming during marital conflicts) assailed my virgin mind. NO! People of that age surely could not still want to do things like that, could they? And, God forbid, even enjoy doing things like that?
Sex and romance and love … that’s something reserved purely for the young, isn’t it? You know, all those films, those romantic novels, those wonderful sonnets written by Shakespeare … I mean, he wasn’t writing to a 50-year-old mistress, was he? He didn’t write Shall I compare thee to a winter’s day, did he? It was a summer’s day. As in youth. And beauty. And love. And full-blown, rosy, hot, summery sex for the young. Sweaty, syrupy, sultry summer, with the nightingale singing in full-throated ease while the young entwine their passionate hearts and limbs, right? Right?
That’s what I kept asking my grossed-out thirteen-year-old self. And now, several decades later, I know the answer.
Of course the answer will be different for every individual. But from my own recent experience, and that of others in the same club, I can now see the Good News. As in all that experience you accumulated over the years; all the mistakes you made, all the disillusionments you suffered when you resolutely believed in perfection, all the uncertainties and insecurities and fumblings … and now, in your grand middle age, you’ve become an expert! You’ve discovered the Over-Fifties Good News! It’s opened its mystical secrets to you, just like the pages of a Holy Book. I suppose you could call it the Good News Sex Bible.
(N.B. Apologies in advance if I’ve offended any Bible-bloggers out there; I have great respect for the Bible, truly. It’s full of great stories and poetry and sex. Not just Solomon, but all that begetting and sowing of wild oats … wow, did they have a lot of fun!)
So, in order to experience the Good News for yourself, you have to:
- wait till you’re over fifty;
- free yourself from your long-term spouse (unless you’ve discovered the secret of eternal love and romance and sex within the same relationship for your whole life – if so, could you drop me a line please and let me in on that secret?);
- fall for someone brand new, preferably of a similar age;
- take care of your figure and appearance and mind, so that he’ll likewise find you utterly irresistible;
Actually, is there a 5? Oh, yes. Course there is.
5. Head west for sunsets, wide oceans, and dreams that can mould into reality.
To quote the good old English bard once again: THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER!