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I have already posted various times about my parents and childhood. We were very lucky – stable family life,parents  working, educated and healthy. What I didn’t really realise until I left home, was this was not the norm for everyone. I kind of assumed everyone had parents with views and attitudes similar to mine. Stupid and niaive view of course, and did not square with the evidence in front of me when a child would turn up filthy and neglected in school. But I just didn’t make the connections.

As young children we rarely went in to the homes of others. We might play together after school in the park or garden, but head home for tea. It wasn’t really until I brought friends round as a teenager that they would get to meet my parents and they would say how great they were. My Mum would cook stuff and we’d learn dance routines in the sitting room. (Remember Tiger Feet?) Or I’d bring the boyfriend home and Mum would ask questions and make him feel welcome. So much so that some of my boyfriends continued to visit my mum after we’d finished going out……..

Then one day I decided on the spur of the moment to bring round the man who would become my first husband (TTTT –  see post https://sarahspoutsoff.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/and-how-did-you-meet-your-husband/ ). We had been up North visiting his parents, so on the drive back to London it seemed only a short detour to Mid Wales.

It was a sunny Monday afternoon, about 6 o’clock.  This would be the first time my parents would meet the boyfriend and vice versa. We pulled up the short driveway to the bungalow which sat in the middle of a lawn and conifers  which shielded the house and garden from the road. Not that there was any traffic. As we pulled up, with husband-to-be driving, I looked across the front lawn.

And saw my parents.

Caught in flagrante and now rushing to re-clothe and do up buttons at the sound of the car.

I was mortified and tried to stall TTTT from getting out of the car, hoping against hope he hadn’t noticed anything. We got out of the car and I waved cheerily to my parents as if nothing had happened, They were now strolling towards us gin and tonics in hand.  “Bloody hell,” said my father, “What a surprise. We weren’t expecting you.”

“I could see that.” I replied.

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Mortifying moments

September 25, 2012

For those of us used to being in control, having children can be a very rude awakening. Not just when they are tiny and do not seem to understand the requirement to sleep soundly through the night, but as they get older and start to ask searching questions of you.

Of course different children require different information at different times, but they never ever ask the questions when you are ready for them. Small children particularly seem to  have some inner compass that can spot a mortifying moment maker and will ask their burning question as you queue in the supermarket on a dull Thursday afternoon on the way home from school.

Or, as in the restaurant queue on the cross channel ferry one of ours piped up loudly, “Why is that woman so fat?”  It was said not out of malice or approbation, but simply out of curiosity. Trying to laugh it off and half pretending one hasn’t heard doesn’t wash with four year olds. They just keep asking. And will formulate their own theories as to why if you don’t actually give them something to think about.  One has a desire not to offend, but also to educate the children. One cannot simply lie. Ineffectual PC- isms that ” People come in all shapes and sizes,” or “Don’t say fat, it’s rude” cut no mustard. Unusually for these kind of questions, my husband was actually there at the time .  I think it is virtually the only one he’s ever had to answer as they always seemed to come up when I was with them and he was at work. .

Anyway, he did his usual “Dad Fact” routine, where he gives an explanation with authority and the kids believe it. Despite it often being a crock of shit. But this time he did actually tell the truth, after he pulled out  his trump card.  “I studied nutrition at university” (Gillian McKeith eat your heart out – it may have been a module on ruminant digestion tbh), and went on to explain if you eat more than you exercise, eventually you get fat. And he was able to do this whilst steering the children out of earshot of the assembled masses. Masses being the operative word. So that one went pretty well I’d say, although the child had no doubt unintentionally  emabarrased the overweight person in the queue.

Everyone anticipates the standard   “Where do I come from?’ at some point, but less common ones like “What does sex feel like?” ,  ” What’s a blow job?” and “How do you know if you are ready to have sex?” can require some forethought to give an answer that bears repeating. And they will be repeated. All explanations by parents get repeated. Not just to their mates, but also when you are out with friends or grandparents  and a related subject comes up. Like kissing. And a seven year old will say “You kiss Daddy’s willie don’t you Mummy? That’s what Mummy’s do when they love someone isn’t it?” And the aforementioned explanation of a blow job can somehow seem precocious and you wish you’d just told them to ‘Run along and play’ instead of actually answering the question.

And even seemingly inocuous statements can sound like you have bizarre conversations when it is repeated by an eight year old. Talking about flavoured sparkling water with her new teacher, our very well spoken and polite daughter informed her teacher that her dad said peach water tasted like cockroach vomit. There’s not really much he could say to that.

Just another summer job

June 21, 2012

I have mentioned before that during the summer of 79 I worked in a pub in central London in the evenings. It was a busy pub, full mostly of men after work. One day the manager asked if I could help him out on a Tuesday lunchtime and run the bar upstairs. I worked in a photocopying shop during the day, but was able to wangle a two hour lunch break  as I had been promoted to manager so was organising my own time. I hadn’t even realised there was a bar upstairs, as I don’t think it was used in the evenings. Anyway, I agreed. Didn’t really think anything of it.

I turned up and went upstairs to the bar. The room had a small stage at one end and rows of chairs for an audience of perhaps one hundred. The bar was at the side and relatively small. There were a few people already in the front row when I arrived at 12, but apart form that it was empty. Gradually over the next half hour or so it started filling up and I served the men their pints. Nobody was drinking anything else. Then I saw a couple of women go in to the ladies which was just at the end of the bar. They looked like working women if you get my drift. The lights dimmed and the bar area cleared as the men took their seats. There were no more than thirty punters in altogether. I suddenly realised this was going to be a strip show.

The women came out of the toilets barely dressed and carrying a huge boom box. I remember thinking they were doing themselves out of a few minutes titillation by already being half naked. They pluggesd in the boom box, inserted a cassette (those were the days) and the music began.  One stood at the back of the stage near the boom box whilst the other started gyrating to the music. I suppose it was early pole dancing without the pole. Within moments I realised the audience were showing their enjoyment in a particularly male way. I saw that everyone was seated separately, and busy pleasuring themselves whilst they watched the woman tease them.

“Pint of bitter and a Teachers please love”. Two old lags were at the bar. Seen it all before, not bothered. Or perhaps they were the womens’ minders. I found it hard to tear my eyes away from the action I admit.

The music stopped and there was a break for the men to refill their glasses. I was very reluctant to handle their money knowing what they had been doing, Sticky fingers agogo but my bar tending instincts took over.

The music restarted and they took their seats. I washed my hands. It didn’t occur to me what was about to happen until it was too late.  The woman who had been operating the music called an audience member (excuse the pun) up to to the stage and before my very eyes they were having sex on the stage. Full on, no holds barred, no protection. I just couldn’t believe it.   She was standing up, bent over and he was ramming her from behind. The audience were frantic in their involvement.

The other woman walked down in to the audience and helped a number of men get the most out of the act. She used every tool avaialbale to her, but spent probably no more than 15 – 30 seconds with each. There was no need.

After coming to its natural conclusion the men sloped off, the women got dressed in the loo and I cleared up the bar. I walked downstairs still dazed and fazed by what I’d just witnessed. Only  to hear Michael Jackson imploring “Don’t stop till you get enough”. If ever there were an appropriate soundtrack to my day it was that.

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