Tag Archives: relationships

Comic Lynn Ruth Miller is “Ridiculously Old and Getting Better” in a monastery

Here, in the latest of her travelogues, 85-year-old globetrotting American comedienne and burlesque performer Lynn Ruth Miller, based in London, tells us about her latest jaunt…


Lynn Ruth’s passport photo is even worse…

I went to Farfa in Italy.

When we landed in Rome, I apologised to the officer because my passport photo was so bad but he said he could recognise me. I said I had to wait ten years before I got a new one and that one would be even worse than the one I had.

He agreed.

Maddie from Wales was waiting for me. She and Nader Shabahangi – my dearest of friends from San Francisco – are running an Eldership Academy in Farfa and I was an honoured guest.

Nadar’s mother Elizabeth is convinced that I am a burden to her son, taking disgusting advantage of him. I have tired him out; I have incurred huge expenses, what with his having to rent a car and forcing her darling baby to stay awake hours past his bedtime. Nader is 62 years old.

Throughout the ride home she reminded me that, if my plane had not landed so late, Nader could have gotten his much-needed rest. She also pointed out that, because of me, he had to drive at night and it was very difficult for him because the road was dark. She told me repeatedly that they had to leave Farfa early because of my late arrival and now had to drive back on an unfamiliar road, which was a hardship for all of them. She explained several times that both she and Nader desperately needed their rest and I had thoughtlessly and deliberately deprived them both of that requirement.

Nader’s car had a navigating device that spoke to him in Italian. Maddie helped him interpret the route and we only got lost three times. We arrived at the monastery in Farfa at midnight.  

Yes. 

A monastery.

Many people from around the world go to this monastery because it is a well-known B&B.

My beautiful room was on the third floor of the immaculate monastery with a lovely view of the hills. I had a private bathroom, plenty of hot water and a desk for my computer. But NOT a WiFi connection.

“Ridiculously Old and Getting Better” – soon

Nader, who does not share his mother’s opinion of my value (whew),  brought me some yogurt and a galley copy of my brand new book Ridiculously Old and Getting Better, which is my take on living a good, productive and satisfying life. At that point, though, I thought the title should have been: Why the Fuck Am I Still Around Making Everyone Suffer?

I managed to read half the book and then drifted off to sleep in that very quiet peaceful place where the air smells sweet and you can actually hear birds singing without a hearing aid.

I awoke the next morning feeling a bit more like the title of my book and met the first of three of the most charming nuns ever. The first was Citadel (really) originally from the Philippines who fixed the plug on my computer and explained that I could get WiFi in the sitting rooms, but the entire monastery loses its wi-fi when the wind blows. Ordinarily, I would think this is a tragedy but somehow it felt like a blessed relief.  

Gabriella came to clean my room, extolled over the book and Justine made me a special breakfast. They are all three happy, smiling people. The interesting thing is that ALL the nuns there are happy, smiling people. It makes me wonder if a celibate life is the secret to happiness.  

Statistics say that single women without children are the most content and, if the nuns are any indication, the answer to the world‘s malaise is to confine all men in a separate camp where women who want to ruin their lives can get it on and have a baby. The rest of us can just go about our business growing flowers and dancing in the sunlight, as women do. 

Elizabeth came to get me because she is a devout Christian woman who believes in being kind to the vermin of this world. She scampered down four flights of stairs to remind me that she is in better shape than I am. She hugged Justine several times and gave me a triumphant look to remind me that I am scum and she is blessed.

Maddie told me a bit about herself.  She is a potter from Wales. Her husband died three years ago but had vascular dementia for about 20 years. She has two sons both very intelligent and creative and an artistic daughter. She and Nader along with Julia from Australia have been running the workshop at the monastery for three years.  

In the garden, I met two others on the course: Iris whose real name is Ruth and her husband Spider who is really interesting and very well-travelled because his father was in the military. He lived his early years in Paris but cannot speak a word of French. The two met in a cooking school some forty years ago, have one child and are both fun to be with. They are from Sonoma in California. They work with the elderly there and are interested now in coming to terms with their own advancing years.

Another person I met in the garden was from Cape Town, South Africa. His name is Rayne. He has a small company that provides services to care homes in Cape Town and is without doubt the most well-read human being on the planet.  

I am quite a reader but there is not one book I mentioned that he has not only read but can discuss the plot of far more intelligently than I. (I AM American) He is a delight.

Farfa. Lovely but with dodgy WiFi (Photo by Renio Linossi)

We all met in the garden because it was the only place where you could get on the Internet (sometimes). 

The rest of the group had arrived by dinner time: all truly wonderful, innovative, creative people from all over the world.

Joyce and Ed were from Denver, Colorado; Anna from near Brighton, England; and Bernie, a doctor, from Redding, California.  

They were all there (some had returned from previous years) to explore who they are and where they are going in their lives as older people. Of course, they all looked like children to me, but I am guessing most are in their sixties with the exception of Bernie who is 52.  

Ageing is a frightening thing to contemplate in this plastic world that worships muscular, fit bodies, healthy diets, endless plastic surgery and non-surgical techniques to make us all look like teenagers without the angst.

I do not fit into this picture.

That first night, I took a late-night walk with Spider. He said it was his losses that made him strong. His closest friend, the man who married him to Iris whose real name is Ruth, died of multiple sclerosis at 62 and he has never yet come to terms with his own loss. He is making up for the gap in his life with the elderly people he is helping now in Sonoma.

Joyce is 72 and into mysticism and The Kabala. She brought up her daughter alone and managed to travel the world and experiment in a variety of life styles, always supporting herself and her daughter. Ed just retired from a counselling type thing in Berkeley and he has been her best friend for at least forty years.  

Everyone in the group connected with one another. The discussions were hugely interesting and very spirited.

One of the more interesting topics was how we listen to one another. Ed showed us there are three levels of listening. One is about the hearer, one is about the listener and the third when it is about what the speaker is feeling. We listen not just with our ears, but with our eyes and with our body.  

This is why Facebook and Instagram are robbing us of the ability to hear what our friends mean when they type in a remark online.

The finale of my stay was my talk on Optimistic Ageing, which I have already done in the UK for the Brighton Women’s Institute, the retired NHS workers of South Croydon and the Mental Health Unit in Birmingham. 

Seeing the back of  her forthcoming book…

This time though, I was preaching to the choir because every one of the people in this group takes risks and makes waves in an effort to live the fullest, most meaningful life possible. It was an exhilarating experience to be part of their search for meaning and direction.

I am now home in London, practising bowing and saying “Ah! So!” to prepare for my trip to Japan where I am planning to tell jokes and rip off my clothes.

Maybe then they will forgive me for Hiroshima.

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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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Comedian Chris Dangerfield is in love

Chris with water  in Edinburgh in August

Chris & some water in Edinburgh this August

Three days ago, I posted a blog in which Chris Dangerfield gave his opinion on the Dapper Laughs kerfuffle. Some of what he said did not fit comfortably into that blog. This is part of what I did not post…

“You’ve recently been to Cambodia,” I said to Chris.

“Yeah.,” said Chris. “Went to Cambodia. Went down to Phnom Penh.”

“When was this?” I asked.

“That’s hard to say,” Chris replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because of the nature of my visit,” he laughed. “I got on a tuk-tuk (motorised rickshaw taxi) at the airport when I arrived and the driver asked me: Do you want something to smoke? – I said Yeah – So he gave me some weed… Do you want some tablets? – Yeah – So he gave me some Xanax – And he said Do you want some China White (heroin) – Yeah.

“This was the first Khmer I had spoken to and he offered me weed, Xanax and heroin. I took all three of them, went to my hotel room and spent a couple of days crying.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Remember when I last talked to you (in September),” said Chris, “I mentioned I had left the love of my life? I went out to Cambodia essentially to escape a broken heart and, predictably, the broken heart came with me.”

“But now,” I said, “you are back together again?”

Chris in a famous UK chemist chain - a company which, he says," history suggests got rich on the back of the Opium Wars"

The drug section of a famous UK chemist chain – a company which, Chris says, “got rich on the back of the Opium Wars”

“Yeah. I sat out there for a couple of days shooting heroin and having Xanax for breakfast and thought: I need to get home, I need to get clean and I need to give that relationship a chance while I’m clean. Because there’s no chance while you’re using.  That’s bullshit to think that. How can you have a relationship while you’re using?”

“So why didn’t you get clean last time?” I asked.

“That is a question I’ll probably asked myself forever until I am clean.”

“But, you’re not clean now.”

“No.”

“So what about your relationship?”

“Well, I’m giving it a go now.”

“But you’re not clean.”

“But I’m trying,” said Chris. “I’m certainly trying. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a gram a day of white Number 4 Burmese – the strongest smack in the world – and now I’m doing about 0.2 of a gram a day. By the time me and her go to Thailand in a few weeks, I’ll be down to an oxycontin a day.”

“Oxycontin?” I asked.

Chris Dangerfield yesterday with abandoned police bike behind

Chris Dangerfield in London’s Soho district last year

“Oxycodone,” Chris explained. “The brief must have been to the pharmaceutical companies: Can you make some heroin? Because all our addicts are giving Afghanistan and South East Asia money, so we would rather them be buying black market American-made goods.

“So, yes, oxycodone: that’s the plan. I’m on 0.2 (of heroin) at the moment; I hope before I leave it will be 0.1 and then I’ll get the oxycontin down and, by the time I come back, hopefully I’ll be clean or just a bit of ‘codeine’. To go from a gram of white heroin on the needle to a couple of dihydrocodeines a day, I’ll be happy with that.”

“How long have you known your girlfriend?” I asked.

“Four years, on and off. I’ve never felt like I do about her. It feels like real love. I actually make concessions for someone else’s feelings, which is something I’ve never done before.

“I love her like I’ve never loved anyone else. I have feelings for her that are new and I think it deserves… I mean, I want to be clean anyway. I’m done with this shit and I want that relationship to have a proper chance.”

“When did you start taking heroin?” I asked.

“I was 23.”

“And you’re how old now?”

Chris Dangerfield and his girlfriend

Chris Dangerfield and girlfriend this week

“42… Well, I think I started taking drugs when I was around 14. But I’m done with it. I’ve been talking to the American writer and musician Mishka Shubaly who does the music for Doug Stanhope’s podcast. He’s been five years clean of alcohol and he’s been an amazing person to communicate with.”

“And,” I said, “as for your girlfriend…?”

“I love her – I really do. Like any love affair, it has its ups and downs. But there’s nothing new there with the smack and it’s stopping me doing other things. It’s time to love, to create and to relax: and they are three things – the last one, anyway – that heroin interferes with. No, it interferes with all of them.”

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Christmas sex as performance art. How do people live such complicated lives?

Stirred but not shaken in a coffee shop

Stirred but not shaken in a coffee shop

I have taken to occasionally recording people’s conversations in public places when they sound interesting.

I have no defence.

I could say it is sociologically interesting, but it is really just aural voyeurism and because the iPhone makes it so easy.

Yesterday, I heard a conversation in a Costa coffee shop. A woman was talking to her friend. I have changed the names of the people and the city mentioned. I could hear the two women talk clearly enough to record them on an iPhone in my shirt pocket, so I am sure others could hear them.

This sort of thing is like performance art for the community. It must be therapeutic. It should get a grant from the Arts Council.

What the iPhone recorded went like this…

* * * * *

…so it was like a Christmas Day nervous breakdown and it ended with me hyperventilating on the stairs for an hour and a half.

That was the year before last.

Last year, well, there I was, flat-out and chucked for another woman. But it gets better… Peter left crying on Boxing Day and obviously, if a man leaves the woman he’s chucked and HE’S the upset one, then you can only assume it’s not particularly serious. But ALL my friends thought I was deranged when I kept insisting it wasn’t over. It was like the verbal pat-on-the-head stuff – There there… There are plenty more fish in the sea – All of that stuff.

The girl had been at a conference where he’d been speaking and he said he couldn’t resist this girl in the front row who stared up at him with googly admiration. She’s 33, five foot ten, with long black hair. I still hate her.

Actually, that’s not true. I actually feel sorry for her now.

Two days later and he’d phoned me twice to see how I was. Then he phoned every other day. I eventually asked him when he had the time to phone her. She lived in Cork. She’s moved since. He told me he’d rather talk to me. Mind you, that didn’t stop him flying over to Cork in the New Year to finish it with her and taking advantage of her in the bathroom.

The final nail was when he phoned me to find me, with flu, in bed with David. Not that we’d done anything although, between you and me, David hadn’t had a bonk since April – he still hasn’t had a bonk – and he virtually raped me at one point. I managed to escape to the bathroom. It all happens in the bathroom and it’s all exciting stuff when you’re recovering from flu.

It’s got better with Peter since then and when I… We’d better leave. Danny will be back soon…

* * * * *

This woman has a bestselling sex book in her.

I wonder if Danny knows what he is letting himself in for…

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This comic cross between a dating website and Time Out listings magazine

Yesterday, I read Jon Kudlick’s article on the Chortle comedy website explaining why he was quitting his life as a stand-up comic after four years.

“Basically,” he says, “stand-up is not compatible with being married and having a family to support. And the vast majority of the comics I’ve met on the professional circuit are divorced or single.”

My experience of comedians also brings me to he conclusion that stand-up is not ideally compatible with a relationship because most comedians are barking mad and could provide a good psychiatric researcher with original material for a period at least as long as Ken Dodd’s career.

An hour after reading Jon Kudlick’s piece, an unsolicited e-mail plopped into my InBox from DoingSomething.co.uk

How this new dating site got my address or why is a mystery to me. But they offered “a three month trial period” if I used the code “haha” when I joined. Their selling line was: “Lots of comedy happenings in the next few months in London. You could do a lot worse than taking someone new to some comedy…” and they plugged five upcoming comedy events including Dave Gorman’s Screen Guild at Hoxton Hall, one of the current Heroes of Alternative Comedy gigs organised by Bob Slayer and – just generally – the Soho Theatre.

If these are paid-for ads, they could be on to a winner – half dating site/half Time Out. And, given Jon Kudlick’s assertion that most comedians are not in a steady relationship, targeting anyone connected with the comedy world seems a shrewd marketing idea.

Yes, I did sign up for the site, partly because I am a Scot brought up among Jews and it was free, partly because I wanted to see what was on the site and partly because I can also see three months blogging potential in it.

If you look like Katharine Ross in The Graduate or Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid – and you win the lottery – do get in touch.

It must be bizarrely difficult to start a dating site from scratch and they seem to be offering free three-month trials to all and sundry. There seem to be plenty of twentysomethings on it, but people in that age range barely need a dating site. In my age range (well, the one I put in to test it out) there was just one single woman in the whole of the UK suitable for me. And I put in anyone anywhere. She is interested in baking. That’s a start. Maybe not.

I may stay on the site for three months and see what happens. If you scour the site for me, THIS what my profile picture looks like.

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