My mother finally decided to embrace the world of technology recently and bought herself a laptop. There has been a computer in the house for at least fifteen years but no amount of persuasion would make her turn it on. In a way we all aided and abetted this technology aversion by becoming her computer chauffeurs. If there was a need to book flights or buy something on the internet she would just ask one of us to do it for her. If someone needed to email her something or vice versa she always had someone on hand to receive the mail or do the honours. I often told her it was just like driving a car. You didn’t need to know how it worked or how to fix it in order to operate it.
Then one day recently she just announced that she had bought a laptop. I immediately sprang into action and purchased a copy of ‘Computing for Seniors’. This is a great guide in simple language and easy to follow illustrations. I don’t actually think of my mother as a ‘senior’ and she is well under the age of the medical card but, despite the name, the book is a very good guide for anyone. I actually learned a thing or two from leafing through it.
Maybe it was because I had just bought that book and so was conscious of things with ‘senior’ in the title but I came across news of a sex video for seniors. It wasn’t on some grubby internet site or backstreet store but news from the Women’s Institute in the UK, those famous for jam and cake making, the equivalent of the ICA here. I was intrigued. Why had the Women’s Institute made a video about sex for seniors? Why would seniors need a sex video anyway? Do you forget how to do it once you reach a certain age? Isn’t such a thing unnecessary, rather like a how-to-count-to-ten video for adults.
Although famed for household management techniques, in 2000 the WI achieved much notoriety with the first of the nude calendars. It was a charity effort by a North Yorkshire branch and they hoped to sell a few hundred copies around the local Yorkshire villages. What happened was beyond all expectations. The event became a worldwide sensation and raised more than one million pounds for Leukaemia Research. It went on to inspire a box office hit film called the Calendar Girls which starred Helen Mirren and Julie Walters and the idea has been copied again and again.
Groups of people everywhere are getting their clothes off and posing for photographs with carefully placed flowers, kitchen equipment and various tools of their trade for these annual calendars. I was even talked into posing for the first one here in Waterford some years ago which raised a huge amount for Cancer charities. (One such calendar on the cards locally this year is in aid of the RNLI.)
Well the WI has struck again with the aptly named ‘Sex, Myths and Spicy Tips’ video aimed at the over 50s. Renowned for sensible advice on household matters I suppose given that it largely takes place in houses you could stretch to say that sex falls under that banner. Again, though, I had to ask myself what kind of advice seniors would need about sex. Haven’t they been there and done that for years. If you take the average 65 to 75 year old in 2008, wouldn’t that mean that they were relatively young during the sexual revolution of the 1960s? Weren’t these the very people changing the rules for all of us in the first place?
I had obviously missed something very important. With age comes many health issues such as arthritis and cardiac problems and with such ailments you can throw out your copy of the Karma Sutra because you would never manage many of the positions. In one report on the film it says that the video teaches the best positions to adopt if you are suffering from an arthritic condition or if your husband has suffered a heart attack previously or a brain haemorrhage! Again I wondered if you couldn’t have worked this out for yourself.
The film is presented by a member of the WI, Janice Langley. It was shot in Janice’s bedroom although she does suggest enjoying relations in the lounge, the kitchen or even the garden, as long as the neighbours aren’t watching. Wouldn’t that go without saying? Anyway she happily brandishes a French maid’s outfit and encourages those watching to ‘try something really saucy’.
There is also a rundown on battery operated devices politely termed ‘marital aids’ as opposed to sex toys. These are the kind of things not easily available at your local supermarket or hardware store. Showing off a selection of vibrators, she says: “They come in all shapes and sizes. You may say nice girls don’t do that, but they do – and they enjoy it!”
The topic of condoms is also covered. Apparently there has been an alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases among the older population of western cultures. (Surely this suggests that they still know how to do it although perhaps not that safely). It is believed that many ‘seniors’ still see condoms as a form of contraception only. So teeth brushed, condom on and socks off!
Mrs Langley, who is 66, is a former nurse and a retired counsellor and sex therapist so she certainly has the credentials for the job and is quoted as saying: “We are not all 85 and knitting – we have a diverse membership. The video is about showing that we have some very skilled and educated women in the WI.” I’d say they certainly do. I often think there is a huge irony with sex in that we don’t like to think about our parents or even grandparents ‘doing it’ and believe it is the domain of the young.
Yet who has more time on their hands for sex than people who are retired? The young are too busy holding down jobs, raising children and paying the mortgage to regularly indulge in such frivolous recreation. Seniors are probably getting more than any other sector of society.
Sex, Myths and Spicy Tips is one of six presentations on the entire video all fronted by various members of the WI. The others cover the less eye popping subjects such as gardening, home management, creative pursuits, computers and IT. This is very good. It means you could get away with giving it as a gift. Highlight the wonderful tips about teabags and plant fertilisation and ignore the sex presentation. Then if the senior in your life is also in the market for a vibrator you’ve hit the jackpot. The ideal Christmas gift for every senior you know! Three cheers for the WI.