Sex and the Ovaltine Generation

It is a fact of life that some things become less important as you get older, and one of them is sex.  Look, it’s ok, you wouldn’t turn it down if it was on offer, but would you give up a cup of tea and a slice of cake for it?  It’s such a lot of fuss.  All that… preparation… and always the nagging suspicion that you’re not doing something quite right.  It’s fantastic when it works out well for both of you, but let’s face it, so is Sudoku.  The temptation to retain at least some items of clothing grows daily – at least a cardigan and slippers in this house – and as mobility becomes more of an issue, it only really works anyway if you’re both laying on your back and staring at the ceiling.  There is a growing realisation that a night together on a sheepskin rug in front of a roaring fire would just lead to slumber and the distinct possibility of a cocoa incident.  Some things become less urgent and sex is simply one amongst many that takes second place to coffee and a Wagon Wheel*.

Age does bring some form of ‘body confidence’, a recognition that ‘it is what it is’, but seldom the desire to flaunt what now looks like sixteen stones of bleached tripe in front of anybody new.  Certain conversations are never welcomed in the midst of bedtime activities: “Ooh, that’s a strange shape, isn’t it?  Does it hurt?”; “Do you mind me asking, is that your breast or mine?”; “It’s no problem, I often do that when I bend my legs as well,” so it becomes imperative that any ‘companion’ is fully acquainted with what to expect before you accidentally switch the light on with your elbow and startle the cat.

One of the great advantages of long-term attachment is the absence of terminal embarrassment.  How long is it before a partner becomes au fait with all of your physical peculiarities and emotional peccadilloes?  I suppose it depends upon how many you have, but after a while it becomes increasingly difficult to surprise them any more.  I have attempted to shock my own partner by leaping out on her, stark naked, when she least expected it, but she merely looked me up and down coolly and said ‘Are you going to get the doctor to look at that.’  Her mother though was far more startled.

Ambition is another thing that takes the fall as you age.  My grandson is not going to be a racing driver, he is going to be the greatest racing driver ever.  He is not going to be a pilot, he is going to be the test-pilot for the fastest jet ever built.  He is not going to run further and faster than me, he is going to run faster and further than anybody ever.  I retain ambitions, but they no longer involve anybody else.  I will run, not faster or further than anybody else, but I will run.  I will be a successful writer in that I will successfully write and should nobody else ever read what I have written, well, at least I liked it.  I have ambitions for myself, but they no longer impact on anybody else.  Nobody is ever going to be threatened by my presence; nobody’s prowess is ever going to be challenged.

There are things, of course, that become more important with age.  Comfort begins to outweigh fashion.  Velcro shoes, elasticated waistbands, zip-up cardigans, all designed for easy dressing rather than easy removal.  Nobody over sixty ever wears buttons because top button never, ever aligns with top button-hole.  The doorway to torment stands ajar for those with a button fly in a public toilet.  It’s not that you want to look like a dork, it’s just that you know that you will, so you might as well do so comfortably.  It’s a thin line we walk between dressing inappropriately young and inexcusably old.  Nobody wants to be the man who looks just like his dad – well, maybe in some parts of Norfolk that can’t be avoided – we all want to look younger than our parents’ generation.  There is a sudden and unpredictable point at which dressing in fashionable clothes simply makes it looks as if you’re trying too hard: when your whole appearance screams ‘desperate old man on the pull’.  Walk into any pub in the country and you will be able to spot the middle-aged man waiting for his Tinder date by the fact that his clothes are ten years too young for him and his haircut is designed for the age he has claimed to be.

It’s a sad fact of life that as some of us live longer, more of us find ourselves alone and looking for new partners with whom to totter off into the void.  Dating does not come easily as you get older.  First date conversations could make a worktop anxious.  We’ve all spent too long being ourselves to start pretending we’re somebody else: “Oh yes, I love to read” (the directions on a microwave meal for one); “I’m a great walker” (the off-licence is just around the corner); “I enjoy an odd glass of fine wine” (and many a gallon of Tesco Finest strong cider); “Oh yes, these are all my own teeth” (my father left them to me in his will).  Telling the truth is not really what it is all about, is it?  And there’s so much to misunderstand. “Do I want a ‘physical’ relationship?  Well, I’ll arm-wrestle you if you like.”  “Of course I believe in female equality.  Shall we go to yours for a coffee?  Mine’s like a shit-hole since the wife died.” “What do I know about the clitoris?  Well, I think they make Allsorts out of it?”

In the end, it’s just as well that sex has become less of a priority and the time is right to ask the important question, “Do you like Countdown?”  Sooner or later, you will get the right answer and it will be time to get the Hobnobs out.  And if she asks you to stay the night, you can always hide her glasses…

*A chocolate-covered marshmallow and biscuit confection that, ironically, everybody believes used to be much bigger than it is now.

18 thoughts on “Sex and the Ovaltine Generation

  1. Yes to all that! And wagon wheels…I loved them. I returned to England for two years after 6 years in SE Asia and suddenly there were all the things I had been deprived of. Milk with cream on top. Aero bars, wagon wheels. Sadly I had convinced myself I was one of those people who could eat anything and not get fat. Till the following year when I didn’t fit into my summer clothes. But then I was still growing…. I am actually quite happy not to be young.

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