Those Words We Use

People always attribute the strangest of names to those vital bodily functions, which are taboo subjects in polite company.

Defaecation  or  the act of by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid or liquid waste material …

Procreation – that moment when two bodies get together for the furtherance and propagation of the species.

Like defaecation, procreation does involve the elimination of liquid material (on the part of the man at least).

As youngsters in our house the defaecation process (when it involved the elimination of solid and semi solid waste) was referred to as “having a pongy.” As a child, I naively imagined, that our family term of referral was the same for all families. I of course discovered that every family had its own defaecatory sobriquet. Visits to friends’ revealed a whole host of terms of family toilet usage. Brian Parsons’ dad always talked about “having a plink or a plop”. At John Lowe’s house everyone was “performing” whilst  Kevin Thompson’s dad divided  the  toilet-going into two categories – big jobs and small jobs.

As for the question of “being on the job” – adults, generally by discretion but also for laughs, have invented their own terms.

Here are a few I have heard

  • A night in Cockfosters,
  • A day at the races
  • A weekend in Wales
  • A trip to Brighton

The last term, coined by a friend who achieved his full manhood on Brighton beach – that must have been most uncomfortable.

It is surprising the number of couples who refer to sex by the geographical location of their first or best times.

Mum’s coded term for lovemaking was “research”.

In her early sixties, when mum had finally got rid of us, she had a hip replacement, then sold her crumbling semi-detached in Bromley, and moved to a ground floor, two bedroom flat in Beckenham.

New house, new life and a new slimmed down mum – she’d been told to lose three stone to get her hip done – the only thing missing was a man.

Mum didn’t have too much trouble finding a viable male member of the species.

First off , she enrolled in the U3A (University of the Third Age – no pressure learning for oldies) –  her future playmate had to have a decent brain. Then she joined the local “oldies” swimming club to meet someone with a half decent body. Finally she took up with a local Old Time Music Hall troupe. I’m not sure if this was to find a man, or simply be the star attraction.

Within a few weeks she had found a playmate – Alan – a lithe gent in his early seventies, a former college lecturer, weightlifting champion and author.

Alan  didn’t write best-selling, novels, he specialised in those works of historical non-fiction that you would find on sale at the Book of The Month Club – you know the set up – “join now and get four books for a pound.” A very tempting offer, but you always forget to read the small print obliging you to buy at least four books a year that you’ll never read. Voluminous hard back “coffee table books,” on subjects as diverse as witchcraft  and cake-making, or  “vanity published” novels.

When mum took up with Alan in late 1994, he was researching a book on bodybuilding. Mum helped him in the research. She spent months hanging round gymnasiums watching blokes pumping iron before going home to get pumped by Alan.

After bodybuilding, Alan started a book on possession and exorcism. Mum also helped him researching the dark arts. She would type Alan’s notes, and he would go round to mum’s three or four times a week to check.

Of course, as a married man, Alan couldn’t always come out to play,. So mum got herself a spare playmate –  Ray, another lithe gent in his mid seventies and a member of mum’s old time music troupe. Ray used to nip round mum’s for a spot of “singing practice” – another of mum’s sexual sobriquets.

So, back to the subject of Viagra, and surgical gloves. It would seem that the Viagra belonged to Alan. Mum once hinted that he was prone to problems when conducting lengthy, in-depth research. As for Ray, mum never really hit many high notes. Any duets that they did perform were far less intimate. He was always the “Boy up in the gallery”. When mum did want Ray to “stop his tickling” she just polished his “rhythm stick.”

Now, I never had a problem with mum’s latter day sex life.

I was actually glad she got one because I don’t think she’d had much of one with dad. He was actually a very shy bloke – he probably found any intimacy slightly embarrassing. He certainly wasn’t cast in the “touchy feely,” mode – more an occasional, appreciative paternal pat on the back.

Mum’s sex life only became a problem when it became part of my life.

It’s early 1997. A phone call from mum.

“We want to come to France this summer. Can you book us a git?” (meaning a gîte or cottage in English)

“How many are you?”

“Just the three of us.”


“Alan, Ulrike and myself.”

Ulrike was Alan’s German wife – a Teutonic stick insect with cropped grey hair and a sixty a day nicotine addiction.

“So, run this by me again. You want me to book a cottage for you, your boyfriend and his wife.”

“We have to bring her. She’s the only one who can drive long distances.”

Yes, mum may have been going full throttle on Alan, but when it came to getting behind the wheel – mum was scraping and grinding around in second gear, on short local journeys, normally with long queues of traffic building up behind her. Mum never looked either, she’d just pull out of sideroads into flows of oncoming traffic, forcing other drivers to brake violently. It’s a miracle she never caused an fatal accident.

As for Alan –

“He gets severe back pain if he stays too long in the same position,” said mum.

Standing up, sitting down, or even flat on his back.

“So, how many different positions do you use with Alan?” I ask.

Mum tells me not to be so disgusting.

“You know I can’t drive long distances anymore. Ulrike is German, she could probably drive a tank.”

From the day that mum arrived, I was officially charged with the task of “wife sitting”.

On arrival, mum contracted some mysterious virus and contacted a slightly bemused local doctor, who pronounced her housebound for at least two weeks. Though she was a bit upset when he wanted to take her down the local hospital for tests. One of mum’s health enactments that was just a little too OTT.

As for Alan, he announced that he had decided to “write” about this charming French village and as such could not possibly tear himself away from the place, which left Ulrike – the German culture vulture, slightly crestfallen at the clipping of her cultural wings. No matter. Mum assured Ulrike that I would be her personal chauffeur and minder for the duration of their Gallic interlude.

So, there I am, driving Ulrike round every monument, chateau and supermarket within a 100km radius, whilst mum enjoys two weeks uninterrupted shagging.

I don’t know if Ulrike ever suspected anything. Barely a year later, her insatiable nicotene habit had carried her off the the great tobacconist’s  in the sky, which meant that Alan was suddenly available.

Alan carried on for the next few years as the intellectual  geriatric gigolo, then in 2001, he popped the question to mum. She refused. They broke up and Aland stared doing the rounds of Catholic social clubs (He unlapsed himself to go on the hunt.). In 2002 he married, Myriam, a thin miserable, maiden – who would never do to him what mum did to him. It was over. Mum spent a few moths polishing Ray’s rhythm stick before trying to hit a few high notes, but a retired accountant wasn’t as exciting as a former weightlifting champion.

In 2003, mum and Alan drifted back together and …

Well, if you are a married man having a bit on the side, never leave the keys to your girlfriend’s flat in the house.

Myriam suspected Alan was being a naughty boy. One day in 2005, she stole Alan’s keys to mum’s flat from his pocket, she had a spare set cut, and one Saturday afternoon, when mum and Alan should have bee researching at the British Library, Myriam paid a surprise visit to mum’s flat and discovered her new husband and mum doing some deep and penetrating research in the bedroom.

All good thing’s come to an end.

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