Category Archives: Relationships

Talking about sex lives in loud voices. An overheard conversation in a train.

Keeping track of changing social mores

I was in a train yesterday. A couple of women were talking. They were talking very loudly, oblivious to people around them. I was sitting two seats behind them and could hear the conversation clearly. I had no alternative. They obviously knew each other but had not met for a while and were catching up with each other’s lives.

Well, I was not really listening, but it was when I heard the exchange…

WOMAN ONE
So what have you been doing?

WOMAN TWO
I went to a BDSM workshop and I quite liked it.

WOMAN ONE
Oh

…that I started paying attention… and I switched on the microphone of my iPhone a few sentences later.

Yes, that is very reprehensible of me. What can I say?

What follows is a verbatim transcript. All I have done is remove a few details which might identify the two women – names and places.

NB… The end is 100% exactly as it happened.


WOMAN ONE
I would like to marry him if I was to have a husband but I don’t think he wants to marry me. I got to the point where I realised OK, I’ve had my joy with this and it’s really not working for him but I do want to be with him so I got a lot of what I needed and now I’m back to monogamy. I don’t know if that’s what I want full stop. It’s just that’s what works for us at the moment. And he is dating someone, which is great.

It gets him out of the house – otherwise he’s always round the house in an armchair playing a Star Trek computer game. So it’s quite nice when he goes out.

Like he went out with this woman. He likes her and she likes him, you know. He went out with her the other weekend. I had the whole house to myself all day.

WOMAN TWO
Oh nice.

WOMAN ONE
I watched ukulele players. There’s a really great ukulele player. She sings songs. There’s a song she sings called I Want To Get Laid. She’s a comedian. I think she’s really funny. She’s really great and she interviews really well. And I watched other stuff on YouTube.

The thing is, when he is in, he doesn’t even think what channel I wanna watch. He will just sit there and be in his own little world with his gadgets.

WOMAN TWO
Oh, right.

WOMAN ONE
So it’s really nice when he’s out of the house, so I’m all for it and whoever he wants to go out of the house with is fine.

WOMAN TWO
That gives you some freedom and space.

WOMAN ONE
Yeah and then, when he got back, I was like: “I’ve got a question in mind. Do you mind if I ask you?” – “Yeah, what is it?” – “What happened? Did you get laid?”

He said: “Where’d that come from?”

I said: “Well, it’s kinda come from a song I watched on the ukulele.”

He said he hadn’t got laid. He’d gone to the cinema and I said – she lives in a house share – “You do know you could have taken her to a hotel?”

I just want him to have a good time, really. Despite the fact he and I drive each other up the wall, there is so much strength to it and it has survived so long… I just want him to have a good time.

(WE THEN PASSED ANOTHER TRAIN AND THE NOISE MAKES THE RECORDING INAUDIBLE. IT PICKS UP AGAIN WITH…)

WOMAN ONE
So when did this happen? There’s some really beautiful… I’ve never been into latex…

I am thinking about getting some kind of gloves so I can wash my hands without water touching my hands. Just for the winter; my hands are cracking everywhere. So you went to a workshop?

WOMAN TWO
Yeah. I absolutely loved it. It’s so beautiful. Explaining how you’re giving away the power.

WOMAN ONE
Where did he do the workshop?

WOMAN TWO
At his home just outside London, so it was very intimate. About twelve of us.

WOMAN ONE
A small group.

WOMAN TWO
Yeah. It was nice. I quite liked that.

(THE TRAIN ANNOUNCEMENT THEN SAID WE WERE APPROACHING THE NEXT STATION)

WOMAN ONE
Let’s have a drink. Why don’t we have a drink? Are you part-time?

WOMAN TWO
Cool.

WOMAN ONE
OK. Good.

WOMAN TWO
It’s a new way to carry my bicycle.

TRAIN ANNOUNCEMENT
If you see something that doesn’t look right, speak to staff or text British Transport Police on 61016. We’ll sort it… See it. Say it. Sort it.


I PRESUME THIS IS THE YOUTUBE SONG WHICH THE FIRST WOMAN CALLED “I WANT TO GET LAID”…

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The Twitter fight that may become a one-night Edinburgh Fringe event

(A version of this piece was published in the Huffington Post and on the Indian website We Speak News)

Janey Godley before her first play opened in New York, 2007

Here in Milan, mosquito bite mania has spiralled out-of control with searches on the internet turning up vinegar and banana skins as possible remedies for my multifarious sores.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Janey Godley Twitter mania seems to be spiralling.

The real Tim leaves the Virgin train at the saga’s end

Three weeks ago, my Scottish comedian chum was on a train and heard an argument between a couple called Tim and Freya (their real names) which started even before the Virgin train had left the station and continued pretty much throughout the journey.

Knowing I am not an everyday Twitter follower, she tweeted me from the train carriage to take a look at her ongoing live commentary #traintales on the relationship disaster happening before her very eyes/ears. I was agog as the saga unfolded and I was not alone.

Janey got an enormous number of people following the soap opera as she Twitter reported it live and many re-Tweeted her tale to their own followers as it unfolded. That was three weeks ago.

Then, last Friday, both the Guardian and the Independent newspapers ran pieces about the saga and the thing went viral with people suddenly blogging and Tweeting about it and, between them, Janey’s blog and Tumblr and Storify got over one million hits between them in three days.

“I think it’s the first time a Twitter fight went viral,” Janey told me, “and I got lots of interest from the big agencies and news folk and it opened a debate about personal privacy because I had used the couple’s real names.

“I am planning to dramatise it into a 40 minute play and perform it for one night only at the Edinburgh Fringe next month. Anthony Alderson at the Pleasance venue wants to stage it. Ricky Wilson, the lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs wanted to play Tim but can’t and Alan Carr wants a cameo but probably won’t make it – he and I are still hoping he can, though.

“I want to do it as one night work in progress event and I know how to adapt the tweets into a dramatic stage play. My daughter Ashley Storrie will be the ticket collector who makes the asides which I made in my original tweets and there are other watchers and the audience will be invited to tweet throughout the play.

“It will be the first time a Twitter fight has been made into a play…”

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Filed under Relationships, Sex, Trains, Travel, Twitter

A small incident, soon forgotten… but it scarred another person for life.

I think the American comic Lewis Schaffer may have taken leave of his senses.

Last night he said to me:

“You should do something with your blog. People have book tours. You should have a blog tour. Go round the country telling stories from your blog.”

Lewis grabbed my attention by saying this – not because it was a good idea but because I was taken aback by the fact he was not talking about himself.

“Lewis,” I told him in the patient tone I reserve only for small children, drunks and people from the Colonies, “I am not in any way a performer; I have no charisma; no-one has ever heard of me in Leamington Spa (my eternal benchmark for middle England); and I have a shit memory.”

I have mentioned in these blogs before – but I cannot remember when – that I may be the ideal comedy audience because I can sit through a superb show with great gags rolling on like overlapping waves for an hour and yet, two minutes after leaving the venue, I cannot remember any of the jokes at all.

I once mentioned to someone with whom I have been friends for 36 years that, although I had worked briefly and peripherally with Sylvester McCoy on the TV series Tiswas, I had never actually seen him perform on stage.

“Yes you have,” my long-term friend told me. “You and I saw him on stage in Accidental Death of an Anarchist!”

“We did?” I asked, astonished. “I can’t remember ever going to a theatre with you.”

She then reeled off about five occasions when we had been to the theatre together. And another occasion when we had both gone to see Sylvester McCoy perform on stage. (Obviously, at the time of writing this blog, I cannot remember what that second play was.)

Fortunately, my friend knew me well enough not to be insulted.

Ironically, people who do not know me as well as she does think I have a very good memory because I always remember their birthdays. But this is because I write everything which seems likely to be important down in a diary which I always carry around with me. I once lost it for two days and virtually needed psychological counselling.

Sometimes, when transferring birthday dates into a new diary, I can barely remember who some of the people are but, if I were ever to meet them again, I would be able to impressively know when their birthdays are.

It is a minor compulsion and I control it. It does not control me.

This same friend (the one with whom I apparently saw Sylvester McCoy in Accidental Death of an Anarchist) told me, knowing I never wanted to live beyond my 18th birthday:

“The irony is you are liable to live into your nineties because you don’t worry very much and people who don’t get worried are supposed to live longer… You worry-away at things but not about things – and you tend to look forward not back.”

Readers of this blog may disagree.

But she knows me quite well… although one reason I do not look back too much is that I have mostly forgotten what happened.

Life just stretches apparently endlessly onwards but occasionally people remind me of something I did or saw and I think: “Ooh. Perhaps I have had a more interesting life than I thought I had.”

I am quite a good editor and perhaps I edit my memory too tightly. Perhaps I too quickly discard into the forgotten recesses of my mind’s filing cabinet seemingly irrelevant things which I think will be of no practical use to me in the future and I only keep in my immediate frontal memory things which I think may have some relevant cross-referencing value later on.

My blog a couple of days ago was about a road accident in Greenwich.

In it, I wrote:

“By the weekend, I will have forgotten any of this ever happened. It is not relevant to my life”

This was read by the retired senior fire officer whom I mentioned in yesterday’s blog,

After he read it, the retired senior fire officer sent me an e-mail in which he said:

“It is strange how apparently irrelevant events can become relevant later. Doing my old job consisted of lots of events that weren’t really relevant to my own life, only to others…  or so I thought.

“But I received a phone call out of the blue last year from a young lady. She asked me if I remembered a road accident on an obscure B road about 20 years previously.

“Until her call, all I had remembered about that accident was that the passenger in the other car had been reading a novel called Dead On Arrival. The book was open, in the footwell, as we removed her body.

“Talking to the lady on the phone brought the accident back to me and I was able to remember in detail the two-car double-fatal event which also left three badly injured. This included the recovery of two seriously injured little girls trapped in an upside-down car pinned into a ditch full of water. I gave one of the little girls a teddy bear which I carried around – to comfort her and to stop her unnerving screaming.

“She was the girl talking on the phone and she had been looking for me since she was able. Despite her brain damage and crippled body she had survived, grown up, married and had children. She wanted to say “thanks” and to tell me how she had got on… about her home, her children and husband.

“Because of that one phone call, she is now no longer an irrelevant part of my past and I think all the perceived irrelevant things we see, do or sometimes think have some sort of impact, even if its just…..  ‘just’….. on our character.”

The retired senior fire officer is, of course, right. And the same incident one person forgets can be the very incident that scars – literally or figuratively – another person for life.

My mother, a very sensitive woman, was Christened with the name Agnes but was never called that, even by her parents – she was always called Nan.

When she was a young girl at school, her English teacher told her, “Oh, Agnes. You have no soul for poetry.”

As a result, after that, she took no interest in reading books.

A few seconds after that schoolteacher had said the words, I am sure he would have forgotten that he had ever said them.

But they scarred her for life.

She was born with only one hand. She had no left hand. As a child, she was brought up to always hide her hand in public.

In her late twenties, when she became engaged to my father, a member of his family said to her:

“I wish Harry could marry a whole woman.”

Obviously, she never forgot. She had been brought up to be ashamed of her missing hand. She never told my father about his relative’s comment. She lived until she was 86.

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