SEX IN IRELAND PART 2
Fred lounged in her bath surrounded by candles. An ashtray spilling over with roaches on a chair beside her. A mug of wine balanced between her ample breasts. The Steve Miller Band cranking out The Joker from another room.
'Cause I'm a picker I'm a grinner I'm a lover and I'm a sinner I play my music in the sun.'
Romantic if it weren’t for the fact that Toby was on the loo in the corner having a pooh. I was there only because this bohemian house in Holloway which I found myself living in allowed free access everywhere, 24/7. To my friends back in Ireland, living in a house with drugs and nudity would be called ‘Landing on your feet'. I would agree.
Ireland in the '70s had lots of drink but no sex. Irish God was very strict on that. Thinking about the opposite sex would lead to an eternity in hell. You know when someone says 'Don't touch that plate, it's hot' but you do and it really stings. Imagine that burn but on your nob - FOREVER. That was sold to us as fact. F.A.C.T. See if that doesn't fuck up your arder.
Anyway, I was cool with nudity - other peoples obviously. Catholic’s only take their clothes off for sporting events like swimming and rugby.
Fred was a nurse who did house visits for the elderly and stole their unused drugs. I remember a Gladstone bag filled to the brim with blister packs and brown plastic bottles. On the floor The Oxford Dictionary of Drugs - a chunky guide to the pills that could make you high or constipated. Knowing the difference was crucial to a good night.
Drugs weren't my thing at all. Working out what each pill did looked fun but I was way too scared to get into it having seen how grass had turned my school mate Hymie into an idiot.
The sex itself was casual. The kind of thing you do after a dinner of jacket potato with cheese and before a pint at the Tollington Arms. Pleasing without being sentimental. There may have been cuddling but the urgency of closing time definitely took precedence.
Unlike myself, it was a long time coming. I was 19 and looking for a memorable occasion without having any control over it. I do feel Fred was being generous. Kick-starting the bike as it were.
I promised Sex In Ireland
so let’s get back to that.
Annie and I had been going out for a bit. We were 15, I guess. I would walk the 3 miles to her house in Dublin where we would exchange vast quantities of saliva until it was time to go. It took the walk home to get the erection into a sociable condition.
It was her suggestion that we go off for a few days on our own, wandering Wicklow, thumbing lifts and staying in B&Bs. The idea was mind-blowing. Two kids alone, free to do whatever they wanted, unmonitored, in 1970's Ireland! I have no idea how we got this past our parents.
Interior bedroom, day A pink candlestick bedspread. A kettle on a corner table. A crusifix over the bed with a man nailed to it. He looked dead.
But Annie and I are oblivious to our surroundings. Neither of us can believe we are where we are. There is magic in the air. This is the moment.
A knock at the door.
It’s a policeman. He smiles at me, looks in at Annie and keeps smiling.
Is everything alright?
The B&B owner must have called the police - that’s how dangerous it was to be a teen in Ireland. In another version, we would have been sent home and our parents would have been shamed. I doubt more would have come of it but in less liberal families the consequences could have been dire. We might have had to move schools. Annie would have been tarnished with scandal and that could have impacted her future in very serious ways. She'd be one of 'those girls'. But none of that happened thanks to a smiling policeman.
We stayed together for 4 happy years, doing what teens did back then. It was Fred over in London that kick-started the bike. With no contraception and the risks associated with pregnancy so extreme it was just not worth going the distance.
Back to Fred.
Our relationship lasted 48hrs. That’s a gross exaggeration. It lasted around an hour if you allowed for a cigarette break and being sent downstairs to make tea.
The house was fantastic. Ceiling high in hardbacks, coffee table books and LPs from the book shop chain we all worked in. Joan Armatrading shook the door on the soundproof music room. People came and went. It was friendly and the company was interesting. Readers are.
I think I was pretty lucky losing my virginity to Fred. It was relaxed. Not much was expected of me and I came away feeling that it was a world worth exploring. She took care of me. Maybe it was her NHS training. Well, the patient made a full recovery from his celabecy and went on to father children. God I love the NHS, and don't get me started on nurses.
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