A Rose for Valentines
My mum died just before Christmas - a day before my birthday, hence my 2 months off from this column, and its interesting that the first column I should write on my return is the Valentines edition - you see I was conceived on Valentines day. It was a shock for my mum who was 39 at the time - a ripe old age for pregnancy 46 years ago. My mum said “that was the last time I took your father to bed on a Sunday afternoon” - which wasn’t actually true because they were always in bed when I got home from school. Far from being just sleepy people (which is what I thought at the time), my mum was living up to the nick-name Dad gave her ‘Fanny Hot Plate!’
In the words of the minister who laid my mum to rest “Rose was a saucy old girl”. She was very broad minded, always had a naughty joke to tell and as her boss of 29 years said “she could hold her own in a room full of men”
Even in old age she was attractive to men even though there was no other man for her before or after my dad, who died 30 years ago. It didn’t mean she didn’t think about it though. She took her first ever holiday a few years after Dad died. I picked her up from Gatwick where she made a grand entrance through arrivals on the arm of a bloke young enough to be her grandson who gave her a goodbye kiss to remember. Many years later a neighbour who took her to the local club dance, made a move on her. She told me in techni-colour detail that scarred me for many years about how he groped her but she was relieved when she put her hands down his trousers (no doubt elasticated in the way that old men wear) that he “couldn’t get it up”.
She was very strict with me where boyfriends were concerned until I met the now Mr Hot Wax at 18. He was allowed to stay over in the spare room. I remember trying to creep across the hallway but the floorboards squeaked and she would cough loudly and I would make a hasty retreat. But being cunning as only teenagers think they know how, we hatched ‘operation shag plan’. He would fake a yawn then go to bed first, ruffle up the bed then go into my room. I would go to bed 10 minutes later. A few weeks in to this successful plan I came home to find the spare room unmade. I called to Mum, “Kevin’s over tonight, why is the room not made up?”, “well there ain’t any point in me washing bedding when he don’t bloody sleep in it!” she barked back. As she would say “I’m not as stupid as I look!” Mums never are!
Mum’s jokes and stories were legendary; she once worked as a quality controller at a condom making factory. Her job was to randomly test condoms by inflating them on a pump then test them for leakage by running the rubber round her face. As a Catholic this probably didn’t sit very well; she lasted only a few short weeks in that job.
She loved limericks, my favourite is The Old Tramp (shown below); but she saved the best till last. I came across a hand written note when clearing out her house, I don’t suppose it’s her own work but it sums up her attitude - it reads...
The Golden Years
I cannot see, I cannot pee,
I cannot chew, I cannot screw,
My memory shrinks, my hearing stinks,
No sense of smell, I look like hell,
my body’s drooping, got trouble pooping,
So the Golden Years have come at last!
Well the Golden Years can kick my arse!
This is in part an unashamed tribute to my mum, but it’s more than that, it’s a lesson. Just because you are old doesn’t mean you need to lose your sense of fun. Mum kept hers; she made me laugh till the very end. Sex and sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of, my parents’ open and honest attitude allowed me to develop into an adult with no hang-ups sexually, gave me the confidence to explore my sexuality safely and in the knowledge that I had someone who I could go to for an honest, non-judgmental opinion when I needed it and for that I feel truly blessed. And age is no barrier to having a sexual mind and being sexual (although a lack of partner perhaps is) - to those of you reading this that think that life ends at 40, think again - there’s a lot more life left in the old dog yet!
Fannie Annie x
The Old Tramp
There once was an old tramp called Dave,
Who kept a dead whore in a cave,
He said “I must admit, I’m a bit of a shit,
but think of the money I save”