bookmark_borderLets Talk About Sex (Part Ten)

Am tempted to say ‘been there, done that’ but the RSPCA might arrest me.

I’ve been thinking about dating again recently and in preparation for the ordeal I’ve been checking out the competition by looking at all the 50 yr old males within reasonable distance, yes, I know that’s a bit weird but my mind doesn’t think like normal folk, it likes to take the less well trodden path. It’s been quite a sobering experience, to say the least. Now, undoubtedly some of the blokes are a tad scary and some of them are definitely lying about their age, weight and height, some are frankly laughably and you wonder if ‘Care in the Community’ has gone too far BUT some of them are simply stunning too, I can say that even as a man and it’s very very sobering. When I went on my speed dating night years ago the place was full of chairmen of the board and financial directors with houses in various country and then there was little me from the back streets of Belfast and I’m reminded of that feeling when I troll for 50 year old males in the London area, there are some very good looking men with their head screwed on and with some very well written profiles. Perhaps a life as a Trappist Monk beckons after all.

Sadly there does seems to be an awful lot of photos of men sailing yachts looking very manly and in control, sailing the seven seas and a surprising number of men seem to have caught the same huge effing fish in the same river, I’m starting to think is there some photographers shop in London with a river backdrop and a huge stuffed fish. Anyway, the other thing I noticed the rug count – I’ve just counted and out of the first 50 men only five have a good set of hair without the need for a comb-over – and one of those 50 was me, well, at least that’s some consolation!

I really should check out the local monastery but I often wonder about monks and nuns that hide themselves away, what sort of life must they have, I’m sure it can seem hard trying to be deeply spiritual, what with having to get up at the crack of dawn to pray/mediate/study/fast/scrub floors etc but here’s the thing, I think the real challenge would be to live as a monk or nun out in the community, not sheltered away from modern life  behind big stone walls, trying to be deeply spiritual whilst interacting with modern life and engaging with folk would I think, be much more difficult, seeing the suffering some folk go through and trying to qualify that within your spiritual beliefs would, I think, be a much more challenging task but ultimately turn you into a much better person, the iron ore may complain about being put into the raging furnace but when the finest steel comes out it knows better..

I’ve been thinking about this recently and in much the same way I think monks should get out into the community more then rather than stand by the sidelines and observe the world around me, I’ve dipped my toes back into the dating pool and it’s been a sobering experience. Perhaps it’s because I turned 50 in February but I’m starting to see things differently now and my attitude has changed.

Now I know I am going to get roasted for this and I hesitate to write it but hey, it’s my blog and like the telly, there is an off switch, you can simply switch me off but I’m hoping you don’t, I’m hoping the last paragraph balances thing out and changes your perspective about men, if only slightly. And you will have to excuse the glaring generalisations here, I know not everyone is the same but there is a point and hopefully some truth.

You see, it’s interesting watching dates get together, we men behave somewhat similar to dogs but perhaps in a more civilised way and then again perhaps in a less truthful way, perhaps dogs can teach us something about being true and real, like dogs we approach each other cautiously incase we’re both the same sex, wary of getting bit in the ass and then we do the doggy equivalent of sniffing each other’s butt and when we discover the other person is of the opposite sex we try our very best to mount them doggie style..  (well, I do anyway but ssshhhh don’t tell anyone!). And this is really how it’s been for most of my life and practically every other guy I know. Granted some guys meet someone and take their time before engaging in rumpy-pumpy but ever since puberty that tends to be the pattern most men follow and certainly one most folk will recognise.

And so I’ve been thinking about sex and about when we sleep with someone else, the act of sleeping with someone else is never really just about sex, is it – or I think it’s rarely about ‘just’ sex, you see, when you sleep with someone there is a whole lot more that comes into play, you bring a whole lot more with you, sleeping with someone also says that you like that person, hopefully it says you have some emotional investment in that woman, hopefully you think there is some kind of future in it and it says to her that you like her, you have feelings towards her and its more than just mere sex. It is said that each time a man sleeps with a woman, that she gives a part of herself to him, and it’s not just sex full stop, it’s not just emotions, she gives him part of her heart, part of her soul.. And when he sleeps with her and walks away then, well, then she’s lost a tiny little part of herself – and it’s not just her pride (or only her pride) but something finer, more ethereal that she’s lost, it’s almost a part of who she is..

But here’s the kicker, here’s the thing, you see, we men actually know this, underneath all the lust and animal and the passion there is a part of us that knows this, that senses this – and the older we get the more clearly we come to know this and when we get to this ripe old age of 50 then it screams in our ears, because you see ladies and this is going to surprise you – it is exactly the same for us, the act of sleeping with someone has the same effect on us, we also get emotionally involved in it, we also give a part of ourselves to you and when it is over for whatever reason then we also feel like we have lost a part of ourselves, and it’s why some of us hesitate, why it suits us to take it slowly sometimes  – and I know our behaviour over the centuries makes that seem like complete hogwash but it’s true, when young yes, certainly, wham bam thank you ma’am but the older and wiser we men get, the more sex means to us too , and the act of sleeping with someone is not something some of us take lightly..

(Although, between you, me and the four walls,  we ARE very grateful!)

bookmark_borderLife’s Rewind Button – Part Deux

For a long long time in Northern Ireland the two communities, Protestant and Catholic argued, fought and caused a lot of heartache. It became almost a reflex that one side would take the opposing view of the other side, especially amongst the community elders and local politicians. However, there was one subject that all community elders were united on and that was sex, and sex education. Despite the need to reproduce, community elders were determined that no young person in Northern Ireland was going to have sex out of wedlock (and probably not in wedlock either). I suspect not much has changed these days in Norn Iron.

They say that ignorance is bliss, but I’m not convinced, they also say that sex is hereditary, if your parents never had it then neither will you. My parents never had sex. No-one in Northern Ireland ever had sex, at least that’s the impression I got from my parents as a testosterone sodden teenager. It was a taboo subject, never ever to be discussed, (exactly the same as when I asked our minister what happens to you when you die, uncomfortable silence), discussion to be avoided at all costs. I find it kind’a ironic that sex was never discussed but my parents were obviously engaging in it as I had eight siblings so they had engaged in it at least eight – oops I mean nine times. The big family next door obviously engaged in it a lot more. You’d think the penny would have dropped and that the community elders/politicians/local government would have actually pushed for sex education as the birth rate went in the opposite direction of the rest of the western world. They even fought against contraception, the pill took a lot longer to reach Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK and down south in the Republic of Ireland contraception was actually illegal until 1980 and then severely restricted.

It’s interesting how attitudes have changed, if my mum found a packet of condoms in my pocket when I was a teenager or young adult I think I would have got roasted alive, however these days mothers are practically forcing them onto their teenagers. I have visions of some mum shouting out to some teenager as he’s leaving with his pals “Johnny, don’t forget your packet of rubber Johnny’s” much to his embarrassment.

We never had the Birds and the Bee’s talk and school certainly didn’t do sex education, at least not in the 70’s. Consequently my generation grew up in blissful ignorance about sex which lead to a couple of unfortunate and embarrassing incidents with my parents. I never had to suffer the embarrassment of a parent finding condoms in my jeans but there is indeed an endless list of things I did do as a teenager in all innocence (mostly) and looking back now I wish I could press that magical rewind button and erase a few (more) selected moments of my life.

I remember being about thirteen or fourteen and watching telly one Saturday afternoon. As usual it was crap weather outside so we were all glad just to be indoors and reasonably warm doing our favourite past time – watching the box. It was some BBC Bristol nature programme about Shire horses and of course didn’t they start talking about reproduction and siring the next generation and next thing you knew the farmer was getting one of the Shire horses to mount the mare.

Two things happened simultaneously at that moment in time, (a) I discovered what the term ‘hung like a horse’ really meant and (b) my mum jumped up out of her chair (a rare occurrence, let me tell you) and immediately pressed the buttons to switch channels (before remote controls) to ITV and complained about that nature programme being ‘very boring’, not sure if she meant the pun but we settled down into The Dukes of Hazard and once again two things happened simultaneously; (a) the ubiquitous saxophone music started playing as Daisy Duke started taking off what remained of her skimpy clothes and (b) I discovered what the term ‘voyeurism’ meant.

My mum was horrified and once again jumped up and tried switching the channels quickly only to return to the horses going at it with great gusto, and then did what she always did on these occasions, she had a sudden urge to engage me in intense conversation about my school work in a transparently obvious attempt to stop me watching Daisy Duke getting her kit off, one of the few times she asked me anything at all about school,  I half answered as I tried to see past her and get a much better view of Daisy’s dukes.

It was pretty obvious that my parents weren’t going to educate any of us in the ways of making whoopie despite the fact that sprogs continued to keep popping out with startling regularity but I can’t really blame them, they weren’t really equipped to deal with that kind of discussion, like everyone else my age I got my sex education from my peers and it wasn’t comprehensive or indeed all that accurate. To be honest I’m pretty certain that the last thing I wanted to learn from my parents was sex education, I’ve no idea just how that conversation would go but considering the very formal relationship I had with them then I suspect it would be pretty awkward.

One afternoon not long after the Shire horse episode I was asked by my school to bring in my birth certificate for some exam. My mum kept all that sort of stuff in a large trunk in her bedroom so rather than disturb her – she was chatting to my sister-in-law Cathy- I went on ahead and rummaged through the trunk trying to find my birth certificate.  I couldn’t find it but found this strange object instead. It was about six inches long, was made of cream coloured plastic and for all intensive purposes it looked like a torch, it had an on/off switch but instead of a bulb and lens it was sealed at the end. I thought this was strange, I tried twisting the end off like a cap to see if the bulb was under a protective cap but it was stuck firm so I switched it on and had the biggest fright of my life when it started vibrating.  I almost dropped it but was immediately enthralled, being very mechanically minded I loved to take things apart and figure out how they worked but this contraption was a mystery to me. So I switched it off and took it downstairs to the kitchen where mum was talking to Cathy and stupidly I switched it on and asked mum what was it for..

To say I was taken aback at the reaction would be an understatement, mum was immediately furious but strangely embarrassed, she swiftly grabbed the ‘torch’ out of my hand, put it in a drawer and whacked me on the side of the head really hard. I had no idea why but she told me to go to bed immediately and I went upstairs with my tail firmly between my legs wondering WTF just happened. Doh, press that Rewind Button please.

The other incident that highlighted my glaring lack of knowledge about sex happened around the same age. I had been at school with my friends and someone had used a word I’d never heard before, so that evening at home and surrounded by the extended family I thought it would be a good time to ask the following;

“Mum, what’s cunnilingus?”

Shocked pregnant pause..

Much older brother “It’s a terrible, terrible disease”

I couldn’t work out why he started laughing. Really hard.

I finally worked it out a while later. Doh, I’m still looking for that rewind button and it’s not just when I was a teenager but in more recent times too. I’m not sure if this only works in the UK but if you send a text to a UK landline number then British Telecom has this system which enables the phone to ring and when picked up then a computer program reads the text in a voice that used to sound like Stephen Hawkings but nowadays sounds like Tom Baker.

A few years ago I sent quite a somewhat risqué text message to my then girlfriend but rather than select her mobile I mistakenly selected her landline and pressed Send before I realised my mistake. She told me the next day that her dad who was visiting stumbled down the stairs at two o’clock in the morning and answered the phone only to shocked to hear Doctor Who talk dirty to him. Ouch! Press the Rewind button please.

I suspect it’s not going to be the last time I reach for that rewind button..

bookmark_borderGood Vibrations?

Lets Talk About Sex (part seven)

In the dark ages everyone thought the world was made of just four elements; air, fire, water and earth but in the 16th century an alchemist called Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (try saying that when drunk) was the first to challenge that idea and suggest everything was composed of elements. Then in 1667  Johann Joachim Becher postulated the existence of a fire-like element called “phlogiston”. We know now that phlogiston doesn’t exist but it was a red herring that held back (al)chemistry until Victorian times. The Victorians at last came to realise that phlogiston didn’t exist and probably thought themselves very clever but they didn’t have it all their own way. You see, woman in the Victorian era woman used to suffer from ‘hysteria’, a catch-all condition for just about anything and everything but the condition itself didn’t actually exist. I suspect ‘hysteria’ held back the advancement of sex in the Victorian age in much the same way that phlogiston held back the advancement of chemistry.

However, and this is obviously where the story caught my eye, the treatment ermmm.. handed out by doctors at the time involved pelvic massage, and copious amounts of it until the poor lady achieved ‘hysterical paroxysm’ ie orgasm. I kid you not. I am deeply jealous of the bright spark that thought up that particular treatment and to think the doctors got paid for it, surely to god woman had orgasms even in the Victorian ages but apparently not.

Not only did the doctors of the time regard “vulvular stimulation” as having nothing to do with sex (the mind boggles at that particular one, what did they teach them in Medical School?) but reportedly found it time-consuming, hard work and wearisome. They complained about the effort required to get a woman to the point of ‘hysterical paroxysm’ and how tiring it was on their wrists and fingers – any of this sound familiar? This does make me wonder a lot of things, principally how the Victorians actually managed to reproduce if they were that sexually naive, I’m starting to wonder did they actually figure out the connection between the act of making love and pregnancy..

However, it must have made for some interesting conversations around the Victorian version of the water-cooler.. “Blast it Caruthers, I had to treat Miss Brontë this morning for hysteria. I spent the whole morning caressing, stroking, rubbing and manipulating her good self in ‘vulvular stimulation’ whilst she read me passages from her latest novel, Jayne Eyre. Listening to it I was assailed by sensations of perpetual giddiness and ever-recurring faintness. Between thou and I, Caruthers, I fear it will not be popular, it was a dreadfully melancholy story of love lost but I must be thankful that the many layers of her dress over my head muffled most of the tale whilst I continued my valiant efforts to stimulate her, something she was clearly not doing to me with her tedious book. It does seem to me that she suffers from hysteria a bit too much, almost a daily occurrence and she was most disappointed that Dr. Richard Chamberlain was not able to avail himself on her. Personally I think those needlecraft afternoons are having a detrimental effect on her whole constitution and I shall advise her to refrain from it forthwith and engage in an activity more becoming of a young lady, such as mountaineering or bog swimming. One would think we could get some street urchin to do this work and free me up to do something more useful like waxing my moustache or attending to my stamp collection. I can’t say I’m looking forward to treating her two sisters this afternoon, blast this hysteria for being so infectious!”

So, seeing an opening (cough) and a way to make a quick buck, American physician George Taylor developed a steam-powered device called the “Manipulator” much to the hand relief of the doctors who found all this massage a bit wearing. (I probably should apologise for the three puns in that last sentence)(but won’t). The steam powered Manipulator was very cumbersome to use and not that popular, so around 1880, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the first electromechanical vibrator and 20 years later the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first electric vibrator available for retail sale. This made the vibrator the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified, after the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle, and toaster, and about a decade before the vacuum cleaner and electric iron. Thus, after ones strenuous treatment, one could have a refreshing cup of tea, a toasted muffin and be cooled down by a nice fan. Beats a cigarette, doesn’t it. Good to see we got our priorities right.

What’s a real eye opener is that home versions soon became extremely popular, with advertisements in periodicals such as Needlecraft, Woman’s Home Companion, Modern Priscilla, and the Sears, Roebuck catalogue from 1902 until 1920 – see illustration above.  I suppose it was only a spooky co-incidence that sales stagnated when World War One stopped and the men came back home.

However, during the sixties sexual revolution Jon H. Tavel applied for a patent for the “Cordless Electric Vibrator for Use on the Human Body”, ushering in the modern personal vibrator. The patent application referenced an earlier patent dating back to 1938, for a flashlight with a shape that left little doubt as to a possible alternate use. The cordless vibrator was patented on March 28, 1968. No-one knows how many vibrators have been sold, without doubt many millions but it is still illegal to buy them in India and as of 2009, Alabama is the only state where a law prohibits their sale, though ironically – considering their history – Alabama residents are permitted to buy them with a doctor’s note, perhaps the doctors in Alabama are a tad limp wristed.

bookmark_borderMy life is complete. I have transmogrified into my friends parents.

Dear kids. You will think I’m making this up but this is what your father’s life was like when he was 19. Rather than simply downloading a movie from the net or from Netflix/LoveFilm like we do today, in the seventies a movie would be released in the US and then more than a year later it would get released at home and all our gang would go to the flicks to watch it. There was no instant gratification those days, we’d see movies advertised in the newspapers and read reviews but it would take about a year for them to come across the water to the UK and then slowly seep back across the Irish Sea to Ireland once everyone’s appetite was exhausted in the mainland.

We learnt to be very patient in Norn Iron.

I loved going to the flicks with my gang, sometimes there would be a dozen of us, I was part of quite a large bunch of some great guys and girls, we’d take up a whole row in the flicks and have excellent fun messing around and general tomfoolery. There are some things one needs to remember when at the flicks kids; never pass your bag of sweets to your neighbour and offer him one, for by the time that bag of sweets went down the row and back up there would invariably be none left. The other important thing to remember was to not trip on the stairs whilst going to get more sweets/coke because the entire cinema would laugh as you fell on your arse in the dark. Fortunately I was so embarrassed that I was able to find my way back to my seat due to my face glowing bright red.

At about this time, in the late seventies, home video recorders became cheap enough for the average muggle to afford one and Trevor, one of the better off in our gang was the first to get his grubby little mitts on one. It was a BetaMax video recorder because he was a purist and he wouldn’t touch one of those inferior quality VHS video recorders – a decision he was to regret a few years later – or should I say his father would as it was him who actually bought the damn thing.

The local corner shop started stocking a selection of VHS & Betamax movies and I know you kids will find this hard to believe but sometimes you’d have to wait about two years before the a movie came out on home video.  Then the shopkeeper could only afford maybe one or two copies of the latest (two year old) movie and we’d have to put our name down on a list and wait until we could watch ET The Extra-terrestrial in the comfort of the living room.

However, if you were friendly with the shopkeeper (and weren’t a cop) then he might rent you one of his adult movies he kept under the counter – well, I mean other people of course, not Trevor nor I because we were goodie two-shoes.. but apparently the shopkeeper made lots more money from renting out adult movies than he made from the rest of the above counter selection.  It’s a bit of a truism that every new technology is driven largely by smut.  A big attraction for Polaroid and then digital cameras, some believe, was the ability to take bedroom photos without having to take film to the snickering teenagers at the chemist. And a force behind the rapid spread of VCR and, later, DVD sales was the ability to watch adult movies without being seen at an adult theatre and it was the porn industry that first worked out how to make users pay online for streaming movies and discreetly acted as consultants for more legitimate business.

So, in 1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie was released. This was a series of spoofs, akin to all the Airplane movies but this didn’t even have any common thread between the sketches.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076257/

It was extremely politically incorrect, would be considered unbelievably shocking in 2011 and no-one would ever contemplate making a movie like that now. It’s interesting how attitudes have changed since the seventies. However, when it eventually came out on video Trevor booked it and one Saturday evening about ten of us piled around to his house to watch Kentucky Fried Movie on his dads new video.

Trevor’s parents were out for the evening (or so we thought), so we got popcorn/sweets and even some alcohol and settled down to watch the movie.  Now, I don’t have a copy for reference but about halfway through the movie there’s a spoof scene involving a couple getting down and dirty in the shower and a pair of boobs pounding against the opaque shower-screen. It was exactly when this scene was on that both Trevor’s parents un-expectantly  walked into the living room – looked at the tv with the boobs – went TREVOR! OMG! and walked out – and as they walked out of the living room the boob scene finished, they couldn’t have timed it more perfectly, a minute earlier or later and it was just a comedy movie but what are the odds that they would walk in as the boobs were on show? We laughed but I could see that Trevor was going to be given a hard time about this from his parents.

I had a moment like that the other day.

I was watching Bad Teacher

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1284575/

starring Cameron Diaz  and Justin Timberlake and foolishly assumed that with these two mainstream stars in it then it would be suitable for 14 & 12 year boys. Next time I shall read the reviews and check the MPAA ratings first.

I went into the kitchen to cook lunch and after a while I came back into the living room only to be somewhat shocked to see a doctor examining two naked breasts on the screen and explaining to Cameron Diaz how much it would cost to have implants to make her boobs look like that. Trust me, two breasts completely filing a 42inch plasma screen is quite a shock when you’re least expecting it! I suppose I ought to be grateful that they weren’t actually pounding against the showerscreen..

So it seems the circle of life is now complete, what goes around, comes around, I have transmogrified into my parents – or to be more accurate, I’ve have transmogrified into Trevor’s parents. I knew exactly how Trevor’s mum and dad felt all those years ago when they found us watching what they thought was an adult movie – it was like OMG! What on earth are you watching and I immediately switched off the movie and the boys did a runner back to their computers.

Now, here’s the thing, Trevor and all us lot were about 19 and I suppose adult enough to view such material (despite being hormone loaded sex starved teenagers) but I’ve checked my Raising Kids manual, you know, the one that every parent gets included with the birth of their kid and the relevant pages are (once again) blank, it seems I have to fill in those pages myself.

So what do I use as a guideline? As a kid at that age I was totally uninterested in sex, I barely knew there was a difference between the sexes – this was 1970’s Ireland after all – and sex education was a term never uttered in our school or even in our home. So I have no model to follow and asking the guys at work is no use as all their children are much much younger – and all girls.

The boys get sex education at school – formally from their teachers (and I’m sure informally from their friends) and I have conversations with them about sex and actually question them about the whole reproductive cycle to make sure they have it all correct (sorry boys, blame my nursing background for that!) and excuse the pun but I don’t want to ram it down their throats.

But here’s the thing, I know that between now and 20 years old both boys will take an interest in the opposite sex and it’s how to make that transition, that journey from here and innocence to there and complete comfort, as a father the last thing I want to do is encourage an interest in sex until they are ready, I have memories of my older siblings encouraging me to go get a girlfriend when I was that age and I wasn’t ready or even interested and at the same time I don’t want to completely ignore sex as my parents did with me.

So it’s finding what’s acceptable and what’s not when you’re 14 and 12, and the goalposts have shifted a hell of a lot since I was that age. Then sex was out of the question, culturally, religiously and morally, if by some miracle someone actually alluded to rumpy-pumpy on the telly then our parents would switch channels over until they thought it was over – amusingly they switched the channel over one evening and on the other channel was a nature programme showing a couple of deer going at it ten- to-a-dozen, then there was a great frenzy as me ma switched channels  again trying desperately to find a channel that wasn’t showing sex, and as it was 1977 and we only had three channels then the choice was limited and the telly was switched off!

And what is acceptable for a 14 & 12 year old? I realised after the event that I perhaps should not have said anything, at least at the boob display (even up close and personal on a 42in plasma screen –  imagine if I had one of those new 3D screens!) but I was caught out, just like Trevor’s parents and I was taken aback.

We only really get one chance to get our kids childhood right, we rarely get second chances and I’m wondering just how one handles sex on the telly at 14 & 12 in 2011, it does seem that kids, particularly girls are much more mature than we were at that age (I’m sure that’s exactly what my parents thought of me when I was that age too) but I think I have wandered into a grey area of parenting, I don’t want to ignore sex with regards to the kids but at the same time I don’t want to make it a big deal either and it’s where to draw the line at this age that’s difficult to judge, there’s only a few short years between now and when the boys hormones are driving them nuts and I’d like to handle this as best as I can but from now on I’m going to read the movie reviews, especially the MPAA review, before we settle down to watch a movie.

And then there’s the issue of swearing… and violence and drugs and god knows what else… oh what joy it is to be a parent in 2011..

bookmark_borderAre you a Sneaky F**ker?

Been reading about the Sneaky F**ker Strategy, a genuine scientific term coined by Professor John Maynard Smith in the late nineties. Prof. Smith was a British theoretical evolutionary biologist and geneticist and he tended not to follow rules, in fact he was quite mischievous if truth be told. He passed away in 2004 but he was very interested in sex (shocker eh? British man interested in sex!)

Conventional wisdom states that in nature it’s the most beautiful peacock that gets the bird – or hen in peacocks case, and it’s the biggest silverback gorilla that gets to pass on his good genes and it’s the strongest, fittest stag that gets to mate with his herd and this seems logical,  I’m sure we have all watched nature programs about baying stags fighting over who gets to mate but there is a problem with this theory, namely that after a few generations all male progeny would be strong, fit (and most likely related and therefore cause issues with interbreeding) and logically it should erode genetic variance in the population, it’s called the Lek Paradox.

However, Prof. Smith liked to turn conventional wisdom on it’s head and this is where sneaky f**kers comes in. He took DNA samples from herds of wild deer in Scotland and studied their mating habits during the rutting season and rather surprisingly the DNA seemed to have a very wide spread, it wasn’t just from the strongest/fittest deer but also from many of the less fit deer as well. And then he observed something interesting. As the largest male deer squared up to each other and clashed horns (or antlers in this case) most of the females got bored  (excuse the pun) and sneaked off into the nearly woods where the other deer’s were waiting and they mated with them. And with typical aplomb Prof. Smith called these deer Sneaky F**kers because that’s exactly what they were doing, sneaking off and mating with the lesser deer hiding in the woods and increasing the genetic diversity.

And it seems the world of biology is full of some quite bright people interested in sex and whom like to turn conventional wisdom on it’s head. During the summer of 1994 Elisabet Forsgren (yes, that is how she spells Elisabet) spent a few months studying sandfish in a large tank in Sweden. She put a large and medium sized male in a tank and watched to see who was best at protecting a nest of eggs from a crab. Conventional wisdom states that the bigger fish should be best because it’s stronger and can swim faster but in fact the medium sided sandfish was much better at protecting the eggs, it seemed to be more dedicated to the job than the bigger fish who keep swimming off to explore the tank.

Then Elisabet introduced a female sandfish and the female invariably choose the medium sized sandfish, and the female sandfish hadn’t witnessed the sandfishes previous behaviour but on repeated tests with different fish the female nearly always choose the small sandfish which was more efficient at protecting the eggs than the bigger fish.

So, female deer and sandfish aren’t that impressed with big powerful  muscles and a fine set of lungs, they seem to be able to discern very easily whom would make a better father rather than whom is most virile and I wonder just how much of this translates into the world of humans and dating.

I have met up with folk and (especially during the Speed dating evening) it’s all about what job do you do and how much money do you have, and conversely I’ve met up with dates and none of that figured, they were more interested in me as a person, my future loving potential rather than my future earning potential. And when one thinks about it, in a bit of hot water over there  in NYC is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF and it seems he did have ‘relations’ with the maid, no-one seems to be denying that but consensual sex rather than rape (allegedly!) but it makes me think, is he like one of the strutting deers; strong, powerful (but perhaps not that child friendly)? His wife seems to be very much in love with him despite sexual allegations going back at least seven years, so she must be willing to put up with him not being faithful and yet strangely, she doesn’t need to worry about him providing a good home as she is heir to a massive fortune from her grandfather Paul Rosenberg, so one must assume she is sticking with him because of love and that’s the one quantity neither Prof. Smith or Elisabeth failed to take into account in all their studies. Do the sandfish and the deer choose their partners, not due to conventional evolutionary theory but because of something much more finer? Who knows but whilst you are thinking about it I’m popping off to hide in the woods.. I might get lucky 😉

bookmark_borderWomenopause

I vote for spiderman pyjamas..

So, I’m not sure what you lot think but I’m beginning to suspect ‘mother’ nature has designed us men to last only 50 years, I’m thinking this because I smashed a tooth this morning eating some muesli, plus I don’t seem to be able to hear as well when in a bar chatting away and what else… oh yes, I need to wear glasses for very small writing that I’m sure I could see a few years ago easily… and my memory is going ..plus my memory is going..

Billy Connelly once said that now he’s sixty years old he plans his trips by toilets, he says when he needs to go somewhere he needs to know where all the loo’s are, I haven’t quite got to that stage yet but give me ten more years..

He also says that there are three things all men need to remember when they hit 60;

1)      Never trust a fart – for one never knows what might slip out at the same time

2)      Never pass up the opportunity to use a loo, never ever walk past one – for one never knows where the next one is going to be and you could be caught short

3)      And most importantly, never waste an erection – even if by one’s self

I’m wondering if there is a such thing as an male menopause…and talking of which..

A woman goes to the doctor’s and says, “Doctor, Doctor, you have to help me. Every time I go to the bathroom, DIMES come out!”

The doctor tells her to relax, go home, rest with her feet up and come back in a week.

A week later the woman returns and says, “Doctor, Doctor, it’s gotten worse!

Every time I go to the bathroom, QUARTERS come out!! What’s wrong with me?”

Again the doctor tells her to relax, go home, rest with her feet up and come back in a week.

Another week passes and the woman returns and yells, “Doctor, Doctor, I’m still not getting better! Every time I go to the bathroom, HALF-DOLLARS come out! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?!!”

The doctor says, “Relax, Relax,…it’s nothing to worry about, you’re just going through the change!”

So, the  male version of a menopause, it does seem a bit unfair that woman endure one during their 50 but men can carry on fathering children well into their 60’s.. As a small diversion, what seems equally unfair is that it’s called the menopause, why is that, why isn’t it called the womanopause …and when you think about it, why have all these words got men in front of them; menstruation, menacme, menorrhea, menostaxis, menoschesis. I can understand perhaps menage a trois and these words having ‘men’ at the front of them;  menace, meningococci, menald, mendicant, meningitis, mendacity, mengovirus  but menopause, menstruation… it really is a man’s world..

Anyway, I digress, I asked the all-knowing all-wise all-seeing oracle, Mr Google about the male menopause and one site wrote the following;

“Have you noticed your father, brother, or partner acting strangely lately? Does he forget things, seem lethargic, or wake up sweating, have mood swings, seem a little tetchy? If so, he may be suffering from male menopause.”

My question is, how can you woman tell the difference, I think that description fits not just about every 50 to 60 yr old male I know but it also perfectly describes that 14yr son of mine most mornings, from the moment the testosterone started coursing through his veins he lost the ability to form coherent sentences and was reduced to expressing himself through grunts, perhaps we men are just in a constant menopausal state right from the moment puberty hits, now wouldn’t that be ironic?

bookmark_borderLet’s talk about sex baby (part deux)

A 12th century Sheela na Gig.

So, have been thinking today about sex – I know some of you lot may be thinking oh no, not again!  but I was actually thinking what’s Ireland’s contribution to sex? The French obviously gave us the French Kiss and the Spanish..ummm Spanish Fly, India, the Karma Sutra (and curry, though I am not advocating combining them!), America gave us the boob job aka Silicon Valley, at least I think that’s what they are referring to, the Scots? well,  closet transvestism,  the English gave the world nannies, ridding crops and rather worryingly –  Viagra – yes, I had to look that one up on Wikipedia but it seems to be true (unless I change the entry..) but what have the Irish given the world of sex – apart from this absolutely hilarious donkey story and Colin Farrell’s Sex Tape

I’m starting to get concerned about this, there’s a huge erection in the centre of Dublin called The Spire of Dublin or Monument of Light but it’s a giant needle and known as The Prick to locals and I’m starting to think we’re over compensating for something or another..

And then we have the statue of Anna Livia  otherwise known as ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ or ‘The Whore in the Sewer’,  the Irish have a habit of treating fine art with some humour, hence;

The ‘tart with the cart’, or ‘the dish with the fish’ – the statue of Molly Malone, the fictional character of the eponymous song, shown wheeling her wheelbarrow of fish.
The ‘quare in the square’ – the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park Square (quare is a local pronunciation of queer).
The ‘prick with a stick’ – James Joyce carrying a walking cane.
The ‘hags with the bags’ – the statue of two women with shopping bags near the Halfpenny Bridge.

However, after some research, OK OK, a lot of research, here’s Ireland’s contribution to gnéas – and as you will see, the Irish were way ahead of their time;

Sexual Equality

Ancient Irish laws, called the Brehon Laws, provided women full equality with men. That’s right, they could inherit property or bequeath their own; they could marry or divorce the man of their choosing; even the right of a woman to experience satisfaction in marriage was enshrined in its legal framework. In Europe, where burning uppity women at the stake became a national pastime, the Irish attitude to sexual equality between the sexes was nothing short of revolutionary.

There was no sex in Ireland before TV

Oliver J. Flanagan, the longtime Fine Gael politician, once famously said “there was no sex in Ireland before television.” Flanagan was appalled by the frankness of public debates on Irish television about matters he thought should never be discussed: sex, sexuality, women’s rights. But Flanagan lived to see his conservative standards collapsing all around him. This was in 1966, by the way. It’s safe to assume he would have been appalled by 2010.

There will be no sex in heaven

The only time sex is not sinful, according to the Catholic church, is when the intention or the possibility of conceiving are present. So no sex in Heaven, then. If we don’t have earthly bodies there will be no need to procreate. Don’t even be thinking about just enjoying yourselves sexually in the afterlife, because that’s sinful too. It was having sex on earth on earth that sent men and women to the other place. But if you’re dammed if you do and damned if you don’t, the Irish discovered, then you might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

However, the surprising thing that Ireland did give the word of sex is porn. Yep, afraid it’s true, the image above is a Sheela na Gigs, The carved stones can range from 1/2 to 1 metre in height. The figure is of a naked woman with her legs spread wide, often holding her vulva open with her hands. The rest of the figure may be quite thin-looking, sometimes with the ribs clearly showing. The quality of the carving is often primitive, and centuries of weathering have obscured the detail on many of the surviving examples.

Most Sheela na Gigs are found in Ireland, set into the walls of churches (or occasionally castles). Their age is usually taken as that of the buildings in which they are found, dating from the 12th to the 16th Century, but it is possible that some of the carvings were older, and moved to these sites.

Obviously there was no Youtube, internet porn, even magazines in 12th century Ireland so they had so make do with statues like this. I wonder if Hugh Hefner appreciates the efforts we Irish made to kick start his Playboy business?

bookmark_borderLets Talk About Sex, Baby

Yes, sorry about that title but I’m wondering if I will get a sudden surge in hits with a title like that and I don’t have a ‘sex’ category so this is going under ‘dating’ as sex and dating go tongue in mouth – I mean – hand in hand. (And no, I’m not going to make a ‘sex’ category, you perve.)

The English have got a bit of an undeserved reputation about sex, it seems that, in the eyes of the world, the English are cold and unimaginative lovers and will avoid sex at all costs. I’m not too sure where this rumour started, my instinct is the blame the French – but that’s because I blame the French for everything, as my best friend, whom is French of course knows,  but I imagine Victorian England has something to do with it as well.

There’s a famous passage in a diary by Lady Alice Hillingdon from 1912 that goes like this “I am happy now that George calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old. As it is, I now endure but two calls a week, and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs, and think of England”  and many English will recognise the phrase ‘lie back and think of England’ and ponder that English woman don’t actually like sex.

However, if you do a little bit of investigating and dig deeper then a completely different picture emerges. What’s not published is that Lady Alice Hillington was born on the 23rd of June, 1857 and therefore was 55 when she was scripting all this. So, a 55yr old Victorian lady was having sex roughly twice a week – when I say roughly I mean that as a figure of speech (but George might have liked a bit of role playing for all we know, he never kept a dairy!) but anyway, so they were having sex twice a week, she was at 55 and George was 57 and this was less frequently so one must assume they were having a lot more sex in the previous 20 years of their marriage, so one wonders why we think of Victorian England as a sex free zone.

Additionally, it seems there were a hell of a lot of prostitutes in London at that time, figures vary wildly but some estimates put it at one prostitute for every twelve working men, London had a population of roughly two million and when you look at all the guesstimates it seems there were about 50,000 prostitutes working in London – mostly aged from 18 to 23 where upon they ‘retired’ and settled down (and usually married one of their clients). So 50,000 plus prostitutes (or fallen woman as the Victorians called them) working the pubs of Victorian London (a place where no ‘lady’ would ever frequent) means that at the very least, Victorian Londoners were enjoying a not inconsiderable amount of sex.

And yet, there is still this misconception (groan!) that the English don’t like sex but here’s the thing, Mr Google ran an analysis on which country submits the word ‘porn’ into it’s search engine and rather surprisingly it was England that came third in the whole world. The US was second but I’ll let you guess who was top of the table..*

Additionally, it seems that the UK tops the league for the most promiscuous country in the western nations, it actually comes eleventh in world rankings but it is deemed more promiscuous than the States were the research was conducted by David Schmitt. So, it seem that the British actually do like sex and movies like No Sex Please, We’re British give other countries the wrong impression.

So, there would appear to be a conflict between the impression that the English don’t like sex and the reality, and I wonder how that has come about.  I know ‘there are lies, damn lies and statistics’ and a lot of this research is open to interpretation but I wonder a few things;

(a) Perhaps these surveys are actually surveying which country fibs the most, after all, asking a couple in the street how many times they have had sex this month is a loaded question and I’m not exactly sure just how many folk would be honest about their response.

(b) I wonder what the results would be if the people asking these surveys were of a different nationality, say French or Italian, I’d lie blatantly to both of those question takers, France and Italy and I have history!

( c) I wonder which country actually does have the most sex – because I wanna go live there. (Please, God don’t let it be Ireland, that would not be funny!)

* It was us, you idiot, the Irish!

bookmark_borderA Sheltered Life?

A Chaperone
Hey, no holding hands so soon, I'm watching you two!

(That’s not me BTW, he’s much better looking 🙂

I’ve discovered that, whilst living in London, there is a general perception that we are about ten years behind what goes on in the States in lots of ways; science, media, culture and attitudes to dating and these attitudes are something that we will eventually catch up with here but it’s a moving target. However, in Norn Iron aka Northern Beirut, there was also a general perception that we too are about ten years behind (or more) what goes on in England and consequently about a generation behind attitudes in the States. I never quite realised this when I started dating in London and it’s had a knock on effect on my dating life.

We tend to be a bit ‘slow’ at home, not like we don’t have the same urges to reproduce like nearly every other bloke on the planet but we are just a bit slower on the uptake. There are some valid reasons for this, birth control was harder to come by and slower to come into general use, especially if you happened to be very religious as the Catholic church strongly disapproves of all forms of birth control except the rhythm method. Incidentally, during the 70’s and 80’s  there was a brisk trade of young guys from the South of Ireland crossing the border into Norn Iron to purchase condoms as even attempting to buy condoms in the Republic was fraught with challenges. Most were kept under the counter (despite actually being legal) and in the local community you were always well known so the chemist would squeal on you to the local priest. Generally if you brazenly asked for a packet of condoms than you had to endure the disapproving stares of all the shop assistants and all the customers. Then of course you couldn’t actually date a girl because everyone in the village knew you had bought condoms and your girlfriends mother, obviously knowing your intentions, would stop you from seeing her. So one had to buy condoms from a distant town and keep stum.

When I was living at home, this joke was told, not without some irony;

A young man goes into Boots and asks for a packet of Johnny’s. The pharmacist asks how many does he want and he says “well, this girl is hot and I’m probably going to do her after dinner tonight all night long so you’d better give me a pack of twelve..” The pharmacist sells him a pack of twelve and off the young man goes to dinner at his girlfriends house.

During dinner, the young man is sitting with his girlfriend, her brother, her mum and dad, and her Dad asks him to say grace before they start eating. A minute later the young man is still praying; “Thank you Lord for your kindness.” Ten minutes go by and the young man is still praying, keeping his head down. The others look at each other surprised and his girlfriend is even more surprised than the others. She gets close to him and says in his ear, “I didn’t know you were so religious.”

The young man replies, “I didn’t know your dad was a pharmacist!”

And if your mother ever found you with a condom in your pocket you got the crap beat out of you, though it’s interesting just how much attitudes have changed 180 degrees since then, now your mother practically pushes condoms into kids pockets, “don’t forget your condoms” she shouts as you leave with your new girlfriend!, so at home the fear of getting someone pregnant was a real show stopper.

What’s more, the old attitude “nice girls don’t” persisted for much longer in Norn Iron and this “1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base” tally was a mystery to most young men, we didn’t actually have chaperone’s but I reckon it was only a matter of time.

When I came to London I brought a lot of these attitudes with me and as I never really dated anyone in this city before getting married I was never exposed to the more relaxed attitudes here. Then about four years ago I re-entered the dating market and it was a bit of a culture shock, even more surprising was when I started using online dating sites like match.com and okcupid.com. There didn’t appear to be any rules and I winged it for most of the way but still my natural reflex was to fall back on Norn Iron attitudes. For example, whilst online it seemed perfectly legit to chat up any number of woman and meet up for a coffee date but this didn’t feel right for me, my instinct was to concentrate on one woman at a time because it felt like I was ‘virtual two-three-four-timing’ but I was somewhat taken aback to hear one coffee date tell me as a matter-of-fact that she was dating three other men at the same time. My attitude was you date exclusively and that’s how it was at home, it was not the done thing to string three or four dates along at the same time but it seems one can meet for a coffee and a meal and flicks more than a few times without calling it a date, something my Norn Iron nut had trouble getting around.

So now it seems perfectly acceptable to take an interest in a whole string of woman and flirt with them but until you both agree to date exclusively then you are both free to have a different date every single night of the week (if you are that popular).  I do have a bit of a problem with that, not really a moral problem, more a logistic one, I have an incredibly porous brain and I have enough difficulty remembering what I told one woman, so trying to juggle 4+ woman would just be a nightmare, I wouldn’t know what I had told, to whom and would look even more dim.

So, in an effort to educate myself, I’ve been watching a ‘reality’ programme from the States called ‘The Bachelor’, and honestly, I spend most of my time with my mouth wide open. I’m aghast that one man can kiss, snog and apparently shag quite a few woman and even get to met their families but still not be dating exclusively, my mind boggles at how one can do this and yet all the girls are fully aware that this is going on. The non-exclusive shagging I have great issues with but to meet one family and then another is something I can’t get my head around and THEN, as Brad did, to dump both girls is just beyond the pale, to lead someone on that far and not be serious is really bad form, he should have broke off much earlier but in all fairness kudos to him for actually having the balls to not marry someone just because the camera’s were there, just atrocious timing mate.

Of course it’s ‘reality’ tv and edited to make it even more sensational and I am viewing it through the filters of my Victorian Norn Iron attitudes so I can only assume it’s OK, all the contestants are adult and fully aware of the score but God, I wouldn’t have the balls to do that to any woman. As a friend once said to me, “oh poor baby, you have lead such a sheltered life!”

Indeed I have.. 😉

bookmark_borderLate Onset Sex

Well..hello there Mrs Robinson..

So I came across a nice news story the other day;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8558053.stm

“Men are more likely than women to enjoy sex in old age, researchers have found.
Men can expect nearly five extra years of an active sex life compared with women, according to a review of US data surveying about 6,000 people. At 55, men have on average 15 years of sexually active life ahead of them, and women only 10.5 years, the British Medical Journal reports.”

From force of habit I always question this type of new story, in medicine we tend to question all broad sweeping statements, we are a cynical lot or should I say ‘was’ as I’m Mr IT man now and out of medicine. So the reflex is to question stories like this and if it comes from the British Medical Journal, a well respected journal, then it gets even more closely examined, it’s a bit like The Washington Post printing a news story about a London double-decker bus being found on the moon, if it’s printed in that esteemed publication then it ‘must’ be true.

So I’m wondering is this a British survey but interestingly the data set is American, 6000 US citizens and that makes me wonder why the BMJ is publishing research done in the States by the University of Chicago, are Brits just so reticent that they won’t fill in surveys like this or perhaps it’s just considered ‘not the done thing’. And I’m wondering about the limitations of the data, 6,000 Americans is not the world, what about over here in ole Blighty, what about all over Europe…and Asia.. we nurses hate generalisations… which is a generalisation in itself 😉

And statements like this make me raise my eyebrows “The biggest gap was among 75- to 85-year-olds, where 38.9% of men said they were sexually active, compared with 16.8% of women. Another 41.2% of the men were interested in sex, compared with 11.4% of the women.” I’m not sure how this works, does this mean 30% of men are interested in sex but have no outlet apart from the Internet or is it that men are more likely to brag about their interest in sex (surely not! I hear you say) where-as woman I suspect might be more inclined to tell the truth.

I’m banging on about this (excuse the pun) because my own experience differs, and I’m turning fifty next month and papers like this suddenly interest me, I’m keen to know what to expect or perhaps, according to that paper, what ‘not’ to expect..

Of course it’s all very individual and the people I have talked to seem to have vastly different experiences from what the research implies. The English are meant to be cold unimaginative lovers (a vicious rumour put out by the French;)  but my experience is somewhat different from that stereotype. I know of one grandmother in particular who wore out three husbands well into their eighties and this was before little blue pills come on the market. She got married late and discovered the pleasure of slowly making love all weekend long. Husband no. 1 sadly passed away suddenly and she quickly married hubby no.2 and they went at it like rabbits. He turned out to be a bit of a shit so they split up when they were both mid sixties and I thought that was that, at least until one day I popped around for a visit only to hear moans of delight coming from her open bedroom window as she engaged in rumpy-pumpy with her latest beau, and she was in her eighties then. Seems I have lots to look forward to..

I have a theory about sex that seems logical to me but I’m sure everyone will say is ridiculous. Bare with me here, (groan!) but in medicine there is what is called Late Onset Diabetes, it’s were someone is getting on in age, say about 50 and suddenly they develop diabetes despite having no history of it in the family, it’s a mild form of diabetes and can usually be treated by tablets or just diet control but rarely needs insulin injections..

The theory goes that nature has given us a limited ability to produce insulin in our bodies, it is thought that normally there is enough capacity for a lifetime in our Islets Of Langerhans but because of all the extra sugars in western diets some folk have exhausted their ability to make insulin before they are designed to and thus get to 50/60 and suddenly become diabetic.. It’s a controversial theory and a lot of endocrinologist dispute it, but in the same way one has a certain amount of insulin in your lifetime, so too I think we get to have a limited amount of sex in our lives, ‘Late Onset Sex’. I talked to Wilkie, the athletic grandmother and she kind’a confirmed this, it seems that until she hit forty she had absolutely no interest in sex, not even by herself but it seems that the older she got the more she liked it..

Seeing red?

And when I look at Helen Mirren and how delightful and happy she looks at 65 then I’m beginning to think that perhaps Late Onset Sex may actually be something to look forward to. I know it’s only anecdotal evidence but discreetly chatting to others of a certain age seems to bear this out. I am resisting the temptation to ask my 84yr old mother and her toyboy…

I’m kind’s hoping that this ‘Late Onset Sex’ theory is equally valid and we all get to have a certain amount of sex in our lives before we kick the bucket, as coming from Norn Iron, a virtual monastery regarding all things sex until you get married, then one got to have very little sex at a time when one is a walking erection, well – obviously very little sex with ‘someone else’ 😉

I’m reading a book at the moment, Passionate Marriage, and it gives me hope for lots of sex for the next thirty years and for a number of reasons, not just because I had far less sex that my friends (apparently; either that or they are lying buggers) and therefore the Universe probably wants a balance in my (sex) life and not just because of what the ummm much older generation tell me but because it seems we settle into a different kind of sex past 50, it becomes deeper and more intense, like the sex you have as a young man is all about orgasms and frequency but once you hit 50 then you experience sex at a whole different level, you relax about orgasms and count and performance and just do it for the how it makes both of you feel, it’s like the sex you have before is just sex but at 50+ it works at a whole different level, grown up sex is what I’d call it, and the intensity and passion is beyond what you have when you are a kid and because of this passion, this intensity, you want to experience it more and more often and because of all that deeply shared intimacy you become even closer still, a virtuous vicious circle for a change..

Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part as my 50th approaches but I’ll do my best to report back when I’m the same age as my mother in 35 years time, assuming of course I’m not completely shagged out 😉