Hypocrisy in a nutshell

Yesterday I posted about awards and in it I decried the statistics WordPress spews forth. But there is one statistic that stood out for me. My most popular post by views. It was my anniversary post, one year after I started blogging. It wasn’t that different from many I wrote up to that point or have written since.

Except the title:

my anniversary post: smut or the sex life of the euphemism.

 

Two SEO classics in the title. A smallish one, smut and a biggy, sex. I wonder how many people have clicked through to see the picture below and have been instantly disappointed? I wonder how many don’t know what a euphemism is and hope it is some sort of superfit, large breasted eunuch? Ah me. Still, if this is what my public wants I will give you smut and sex, only on my terms.

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The Le Pard family, circa 1972. You can almost smell those festering hormones in those teenagers

WordPress announced yesterday that I have passed a year of blogging with some 370 posts under my belt. It is difficult, of course, to have an e-party so to celebrate instead, you, my dear readers are offered a special post that, I hope, will titillate and tease: it’s all about smut.

‘It’s just a bit of rumpty-tumpty. Oh nurse!’

The 1960s are often thought of as a defining period in the transition between the generations.  If you were adult before the 1960s kicked off then you stayed adult – you stayed staid if you like. If you were born just before (so your formative years were the 1960s) or at any time after then you belong to one of the frequently name-checked ‘generations’: My Generation, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Now. What that means is I probably have more in common with my children than I ever had with my parents in terms of the music I enjoy, how we dress, how I spend my leisure time, what I ingest and so on. And in particular our attitudes to sex. The freedom to talk about it, enjoy it even.

Principally that stems from the ability to have sex without the consequences that stalked my parents every careless fumble. That in turn leads to a freedom with which we can discuss it, to acknowledge its existence even. The way it is described on the page, on stage and on screen – these are now commonplace. And the 1960s changed everything. That is the received wisdom, isn’t it?

Really? Well, like all sea changes there is a transitional period and, growing up in a New Forest cottage in the middle of bloody nowhere in the 1960s and 70s, I was in the middle of that transition.

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How I kept my mind off sex : 1.painting shed roofs

There’s still to this day a time line that is spoken of in connection with British TV and that is the ‘watershed’. 9pm. This is the time after which programmes with any adult content can be shown. Violence, difficult subject matter and, especially any with a direct sexual component can be broadcast. Being born in 1956 puts me in what I’ve come to realise is The Watershed Generation.

Attitudes towards sex were changing but the old guard and the old attitudes still held sway. Especially in the backside of nowhere where I lived. If you like I’m part of the 8.45pm Generation. We were that close to enjoying some post watershed fun and frolics but, more often than not, it was tantalisingly out of reach.

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Avoiding base practices: blowing up a large ball….

Back in 1969, when I started at my secondary school, I was meant, as a twelve year old, to receive some sort of sex education. But it was just my luck that I changed schools at twelve and due to some badly organised timetabling I missed the lessons. My only formal sex education came at fourteen and involved a cartoon film explaining the mysteries of venereal disease followed by a cringe inducing discussion group.  That’s rather like being offered the promise of sticky toffee pudding but missing out yet still ending up with tooth decay and a trip to the dentist.

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If the urges are overwhelming: Climb a tall tree wearing heavy leather gloves…

Needless to say my parents were not about to make up for the shortfall. No, my first sex education came at Scout camp, somewhere in the Dorset countryside near the visibly priapic Hardy Monument. I mean it was inevitable: six boys aged between 11 and 15 in a tent for a week and you learn quite a bit, mostly through the use of bizarre metaphors and euphemisms involving trains and tunnels and, oddly toad in the hole (that delicious British staple has always had, for me, a certain additional frisson). The jigsaw pieces did, however, begin to fit.

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Hard to believe they’d be interested in, erm, you know… it! Look at those knees; does anyone have knees like that any more?

And if there was any ambiguity I wasn’t about to ask and neither my mother nor my father were about to explain any of this to me. My father, whose Saturday nights were spent at the local Rugby club, famously could never sing nursery rhymes to my brother and me because after the first line the only words he knew were wholly inappropriate. Jack and Jill went up the Hill, Tum-te-tum-te- tum-tum. In all his years, on all the walks we went on together he never managed to enlighten my what Jack and Jill did up that hill.

I suppose this was a problem confronted down the generations, this delicate subject dealt with in code. The problem for us, my parents on one side and my brother and me on the other was that new device: THE TV.

By 1970 nearly every family had one, sitting in pride of place in their sitting room (lounge or parlour). And you watched it together. In 1970 we still only had 3 channels and colour was for the rich or desperate. My parents had many modern traits, one of which was a willingness to embrace drama and documentaries, sharing things with the two of us nascent teens.

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If it all gets a bit much: Dig a hole…

Play for today for instance. We saw some excellent stuff which, for a family stuck out on the edge of a piece of heather coated bog would otherwise have been denied us. But what you couldn’t know, especially from the programme information in the Radio Times, was what the sexual component of such programmes might be. Oh sure there were plays such as The Sex Olympics – that sort of gave you a hint – and you were pretty sure if Dennis Potter had written it for the Wednesday Play or Saturday Night Theatre there would be something in there with scope to embarrass – he was the man who brought us Casanova. Not much chance of us watching that as a family.

There soon developed a process to counter this problem. We would sit and watch, a bit like Gogglebox today, occasionally commenting, one or other parent dozing off. Then some trigger – a top removed and hands reaching behind a back for a bra clip or – horrors – trousers or a skirt being removed; and dad would harrumph, mum would struggle to her feet and head for her sewing box which was strategically placed in front of the TV, ostensibly to retrieve a critical bobbin or needle, but in fact to give her time to assess the content of the next scene; while the Archaeologist would curl into a ball, feigning embarrassment but all the time watching the screen.

‘Shall we watch the news?’ ‘What about a coffee, Barbs?’ ‘Haven’t you some homework to finish?’

No one ever spoke about what was on the screen beyond a subsequent comment that  ‘it was unnecessary.’

Of course it remains the case that no one can imagine their parents ever had sex – we are all adopted, or at least we would all be slightly more comfortable if we had been. But today if there is sex on screen we are all able to share a good story without that same terrible tension filling the room.

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And when there’s nothing left and you are overwhelmed:  get on your bike, young fella me lad and sweat it out…

There’s one story that best sums this up.

By way of background you might need to know that, back in the 1970s there was a deal of mythology floating around about a totally natural practice (especially beloved of teenage boys  though having read Caitlin Moran’s How To Build a Girl, I’m aware it isn’t an exclusively male preserve). Even Monty Python, in their Big Red Book called it ‘The Difficult One’ and indicated that were you to indulge such practices you might go blind or, worse, end up voting Conservative. And never was the technical expression used for such a solitary entertainment even amongst one’s peer group – oh no. You might ‘polish percy’ or ‘whack the bishop’.

One evening we were watching the third episode of an adaptation of Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin. This was a gritty rewrite, much beloved of mum and tolerated by dad. In the lead roles a young Alan Rickman played opposite Kate Nelligan. The action had reached a crucial point: Therese and her lover, having murdered Therese’s awful husband, are trying to restore their affair to its former passion.

Picture the scene: dad is dozing, mum is partly watching and partly sewing and we boys are glued to the screen. Why? Because Ms Nelligan is stark naked, as is Mr Rickman (not that we focused on him) and neither parent seems to have spotted this turn of events.

‘What’s wrong?’ pleads the delightfully déshabillé Ms N? ‘Why can we not make love?’

These are trigger words causing mum to look up. She disturbs dad, who stirs.

At this moment Alan Rickman jumps from the bed, clutching a sheet strategically to cover his privates. In a loud voice he declaims,

‘We must master fate.’

That was, in retrospect perhaps an unfortunate turn of phrase. Dad is, by now, wide awake and frankly goggling the screen. He looks at mum, back at the shocking scene confronting him and says, ‘Surely not, Barbara? Not on the BBC.’

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The room of much tension, our lounge with the TV prominent – what’s with my feet? I seem to have borrowed them from my grandmother

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in Blogging, family, miscellany. Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Hypocrisy in a nutshell

  1. blondeusk says:

    Love this! I must use that word more in my titles! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    Lol! Geoffles! What a way to increase views!!! The post was hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. susieshy45 says:

    Hilarious and so true that what you use in the title brings more reads and also what is inside- the content need not be overtly explicit but with just a tinge of the “forbidden”, you get the reader to share or open up.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You won’t get the same amount of hits with this post Geoff – you need an alternative title!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. willowdot21 says:

    Sorry Geoff I have laughed from Wayerloo to Clapham Junction and had had to share with hubby who wanted to share what I was enjoying so much. Brilliant and thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ali Isaac says:

    Haha! We have the opposite in this family… my 12 yr old son covers his eyes if there is even so much as a hint of a kiss on the screen!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dylan Hearn says:

    I’m not sure if your SEO score is high enough so let’s add some more sex in the comments, sprinkle on some smut and add a little extra torrid sex for good measure.
    That should do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jan says:

    Hahaha! We only had 3 channels and a black and white TV too. Lol – my most popular post was about Tuna Noodle Casserole, a terribly sexy subject, don’t you think?

    Like

  9. noelleg44 says:

    This is a totally charming bit of memoir, Geoff, and I chuckled all the way through it. As tough as it was for boys in those days, it was worse for girls. Believe me! Now, anything goes and both my kids never asked a thing – but we lectured them anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your BBC must have been light years ahead of what we had in the U.S. in the 60’s. Nothing even close to nudity…the most scandalous image might have been bikini-clad women. Those 3 channels seemed to have been enough for us at the time, somehow, even in black and white. ☺ Great post and since you didn’t go blind…did you end up voting Conservative ??? (You don’t have to answer that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah, the difficult one! My voting career has been varied and I have embrassed the Conservatives as well as five other parties, none of which has (a) made a difference and (b) made me proud! And the idea of the BBC being avant garde I too delicious

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh dear (wipes eyes), how extremely funny! Loved the bit about x-rated nursery rhymes. We didn’t have sex education at school and the nearest it got in Biology was birds ‘opposing their cloacae’ , which sounded completely mysterious and exotic. Did humans have a cloaca too? I remember at home asking what onanism was and being met with a stunned and frosty silence. They never replied and I think my mother actually left the room! Ps are they espadrilles on your feet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I was at uni before I heard of onanism and cunnilingus and misunderstood both!

      Like

      • trifflepudling says:

        I think I was reading a divorce hearing report for the first one. The second one I didn’t hear until I was around 20 (or the concept of it either!).
        First sighting of Alan Rickman was his brilliant turn as Obadiah Slope in the Barchester Chronicles. We always remembered that long after forgetting everything else about the series(apart from the music). V sad he has gone too early.

        Like

  12. Titillating headings used for posts will have them stampeding to your blog. Ha ha ha.
    I liked television better when you colored in the lines yourself rather than have them shoved in your face. Great post. How everything’s changed in our fast world. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jennypellett says:

    I once wrote a post entitled Now for some Good Nudes. It engendered a stampede of views. Amusing for me – it was about some of our most iconic statues being dressed in modern clothing by a couple of French artists.
    I love your homage to Alan Rickman. He was so much more than a character in Harry Potter.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great fun, Geoff – if a little disappointing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anabel Marsh says:

    I remember empathising (and laughing) with this first time round – we are much the same age. More poignant still now because of Alan Rickman. I don’t remember that one, it probably didn’t pass the censorship in our house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I never thought of my parents as liberals and my father would have bristled at the suggestion but so many contemporaries had much stricter guidelines than we did. Must have been mum’s influence. If it passed her ‘it’s culture’ test it was allowed.

      Like

  16. Ha! Thanks for the Saturday morning smiles, Jeoff. Censorship was pretty heavy from my parents too. We weren’t even allowed to say “darn” or God forbid “pregnant.” 🙂
    Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Congratulations on the blog anniversary and for the great memories of TV in the 60s and 70s, Geoff. I wonder what Mary Whitehouse would have said after reading this post?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Judy Martin says:

    Ha HA HA!! Oh this was so funny Geoff, especially as my parents were pretty similar, only they didn’t always turn the TV off. My step-dad would be making ribald comments which had my mum chortling, and us kids cringing. It was often me that went out to make a cup of tea while the smutty bits were on! If we ever dared to mention sex though or anything remotely to do with it, we would get told off by my mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Fiona says:

    Oh, I did enjoy reading this. On my blog, I’ve had a somewhat similar experience. I write quite a bit about my cats. And there are other words for cats, with which I am sure you are familiar, and which I have used, without the double entendre. I suddenly discovered that my spam box was full of xxxxxxx (no, I’m not exaggerating) rated promotions and suggestions posted on one or other cat’s tale. It got so bad, I ended up contacting WP, partly because I was planning to include Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat” in a future post. Anyhow, for the moment I have a viagra and sex-free blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Love it A blogging friend, writing instalment stories about her dog reached episode 30, only she was using Roman numerals. So ‘stories from my dog episode XXX’ took off in ways she wasn’t expecting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fiona says:

        So I have something to look forward to? I also use Roman numerals and Pearli’s Pickles is up to VI or VII. That said, she’s growing up and getting into fewer, so don’t know if it’ll get to X let alone XXX. 😦

        Like

  20. Fantastic post. I feel very nostalgic and I wasn’t even alive then.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. ellenbest24 says:

    Well I say chaps, I went to a blog spotted you there https://rantingalong.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/getting-to-know-you/
    Well they call it a blog party but I don’t remember taking a sip! But I’m either tiddly or I fell into a surreal universe. *whispers* “Is it Narnia?” Either way chaps I laughed my socks orf… but do not tell nannie or she will with hold supper.
    Great post hysterical and I will be back. Thank you, you are welcome to go any where but you may like this post of mine.
    .https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/onmeeting-mertyl/#comments

    Liked by 1 person

  22. lucciagray says:

    Not on the BBC! Lol! I wonder how our generation was ever able to have a ‘healthy’ attitude to sex with the non-sex or anti-sex education we recieved. In my case it was at a convent school, where we learnt all about reproduction in rabbits, amidst intense giggling, and ‘he’ll never marry you if you don’t respect yourself’ meaning literally don’t let any males near you. Fortunately we all read Jackie (teenager girls’ magazine in the 70s) and had older sisters, friends, to enlighten us.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. floridaborne says:

    Great British humor! Even in the US, it was hard to believe that our parents did anything that could have resulted in a baby. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Can you help me choose a winner? | Two on a Rant

  25. bikerchick57 says:

    Funny, funny, funny! Although I won’t get the picture of the shorts and knees out of my head for days. Maybe months…

    Like

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