Tuesday 13 November 2007

On seething and impromptu sex education

‘I’m warning you now, Jane, if there is any remote inkling of audience participation, I’m out of there. And no seething.’ So said my friend Rachel with a steely stare as we drove off to Taunton for one of our rare ‘evenings of culture’. Last time it had been the play Glass Eels, with absolutely loads of seething and writhing in, around and amidst the withy beds and rhines of Sedgemoor. Water had flooded the stage as the pent-up lust of the protagonists had oozed all over the show. We weren’t madly impressed. This time (my choice again, so no pressure there) we were off to see Derevo (Russian for ‘tree’ or so the programme said) in something called Ketzal. The troupe was founded in St Petersburg in 1988 and adhere to a ‘rigorous aesthetic derived from Japan’s postwar performance style of butoh’. The blurb went on to say, ‘Wiry and shaven-headed, the company members lead lives of monastic theatricality at their base in Dresden.’
It sounded suitably austere, suitably non-sexual. No seething here, no siree.
As I came back from the loo I spotted a notice that read something along the lines of:
There will be loud noises.
There will be flashing lights.
There will be scenes of a sexual nature.
There will be semi-nudity.’

Rachel looked at me, looked at the notice and raised an eyebrow. We trooped in, following the usual Brewhouse crowd which tends to be middle-class to a woman, all tweedy elderlies and arty middle-ageds wearing ‘interesting scarves and jewellery’ and either cropped or flowing hair; a few sullen teenagers; the odd precocious child.
We were halfway up the stairs when Rachel tugged my arm.
‘Oh my God, look at that..’
There was a man tumbling over the seats, over people, clasping a large plastic black bin-liner. Suddenly he stopped, lunged and thrust the liner over an unsuspecting man’s head, bundled him up and bustled him off.
Poor Rachel looked desperately around but there was no way out.
‘Please don’t let him see me,’ she hissed as we sat in our seats trying to look as small and inconspicuous as we possibly could.

It was absolutely incredible. Six performers – three men, three women (though I only realised that three of them were women about half-way through – and this even given the fact that they were all topless and wearing only some sort of nappies or thongs). There was writhing (lots). There was seething (tons). There were births and deaths and sex and God knows what really – including a very realistic elephant, whirling dervishes, spinning gonks and a man with a large arm instead of a penis.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what it was about – apparently it’s a ‘déjà vu of the body’ which tells you….well, nothing really. Except that you will never see bodies like that; or images of raw gut-clenching beauty like that. Or be shocked and amused and horrified and scared all in the same 90 minutes. Oh, and there was water too. Obviously the Brewhouse have a bit of a thing about the fact they can flood their stage – because it started with drips, flashing jewel-like in the incredible lighting and they ended up sliding and (yes) writhing and seething in it, like aquatic creatures from the primordial slime. Then smashing and crashing it so it flew up in sheets and drenched the front rows.
Several tweedies walked out, sniffing with horror. The precocious children looked a little shaken. Rachel and I shot out as they took their final bows before they got any ideas about bundling us up into bags and taking us back to Dresden to become sinewy seething monks.

‘What about the bit where they were all born like a rope of babies?’ said Rachel on the way back. ‘That was pretty disturbing..’
But nowhere near as disturbing as the conversation I had with James a couple of nights later.

It was Friday night, the night before his birthday and I was sitting on his bed, wistfully remembering when he was born.
‘What were you doing this time nine years ago, Mum?’
‘Watching Lowri Turner in Musgrove hospital, if I recall.’
‘How big were you?’
‘Oh, vast…..out here…’ indicating an improbable distance from my stomach.
‘Wow. And how big was Daddy?’
Hmm. I had a bad feeling about where this was going and had to resist the urge to say ‘never mind’ and tuck him up and scarper.
‘Well.’ Long pause. ‘Men don’t get pregnant.’
‘So what’s their bit in having a baby?’
No, this so wasn’t fair. We’d agreed – five years ago – that Adrian was going to have this conversation when it came up.
‘Is it……?’ He pointed downwards with a grin. ‘Willies.’
‘Yup,’ I said firmly. ‘It’s willies.’
Hopefully that was it. But no. A look of focused determination came over his face.
‘So does the man put his willy in the woman’s belly button.’
‘Er, no. Bit further down really.’
Pointing vaguely and feeling my face start to burn bright red. Remembering all the books I’d read that said you should call a spade a spade and well…..
‘Vagina. It goes in the vagina. You know? You did vaginas at school, didn’t you?’
A look of shocked amazement mixed with total glee that he had information that would doubtless whiz round the playground come Monday.
‘Eeeuw, that’s disgusting. Does it hurt?’
‘Er, no. It’s rather nice actually.’
Then, realising I had a parental duty here to avoid teenage pregnancies, ‘But of course it’s something you don’t do until you’ve left school and are with someone you love and want to stay with for ages.’ Which sounded unconvincing even to me.
‘Eeeuw. You had Daddy’s hairy old willy in your vagonie? That’s disgusting.’
‘It’s not hairy.’
How did this happen? How did I manage to find myself discussing Adrian’s penis and our sex life with our nearly-nine-year old son? This was so wrong. Heck, we’d get into writhing and seething next.
‘But Daddy said that when boys get older they get hairy.’
Eh? So he’s got that far but hadn’t carried it through? I could have murdered him.
So I had to explain how some bits got hairy and some didn’t and then James started giggling his head off and going into flights of fancy about hairy bottoms and hairy poos and thank heavens it all dissipated and I was able to say goodnight and escape downstairs to drown myself in cognac.
It was obviously in the air, all this seething sex. So I’ve told Rachel that she can pick the next cultural outing – and meanwhile I’m going to buy James a nice book that explains all the ins and outs, hairy and non-hairy bits. From now on this is a non-seething house.


Faith said...

Jane, as usual I found your blog really funny!

About the play - amazing! they don't have stuff like that round here! LJ will be impressed.

About James - that was funny too, but I was surprised that he'd got to the ripe old age of nine without knowing. I decided to spare myself any blushes, I would tell my girls about it all from day one, or practically day one. We had books on the shelf along with Beatrix Potter and all the rest about sex, and I'd casually pick one out as bedtime reading from when they were about 3. So they never not knew, and it was easy for me. Thank goodness I didnt have any boys! I remember my sister telling me about when she told her twins (boy and girl). They both thought about it carefully, and then the boy, in a worried way, asked 'and did Daddy get his willy back?'

Elizabethd said...

Oh Jane, you make me shriek!! I think you should book seats for a nice family musical...Sound of Music?? No writhing there!

bodran... said...

Oh jane that had me giggling The things kids ask Hairy willy!! lmao.
And make a note when i'm in Dulverton again Arggghhhh Take me to the theatre!! an arm instead of a penis? interesting ...xx

Anonymous said...

Oh Jane, you've had me laughing girl! Hope Amy hasn't heard me otherwise she'll want to know what I'm laughing at. When it comes to sex talk with her I haven't a clue how to approach it. Black's black, white's white and hairy will definitely be hairy.

Not too sure about the play, however, you as always, made it sound intriguing!

Crystal xx

Un Peu Loufoque said...

It is rather refreshing to see that childhood innocence has lasted this long. Re a suitable book, Try "we're not pregant" it covers birth control too and is illustrated by Peter Mayle...


You might to look at it first tho!!!

Casdok said...

How funny!!!!!

Sam Fox said...

Lordy, girlfriend, that's a lot of culture! Guess you were glad you weren't in the front row. I might stick with a bit of opera and the odd violin concerto!!! The mind boggles. Being shoved headfirst into a bin liner would result in fairly hefty reprisal action from myself... As for the conversation with James ( and a happy belated birthday to him, you know me, always last!) Poor You, but think you did well - loved the bit about it being hairy! Eeeuwww! Bet you're glad you had the birthday party before that talk otherwise the lads would all have been looking sideways at James's Mummy and tittering into their cupcakes... Think A should bring back laviscious gifts from Italy for you to compensate.... xxxxxxxxxx

Cait O'Connor said...

Wonderful. That show sounded horrendous, I hope it doesn't come to Wales. The James bit was so funny.

Frances said...

Hello Jane, that James of yours is such a lucky boy. Really.

Consider yourself a fine mom! And I agree that now A has got to have his turn with the passing on of lore re what goes where and what happens when it does. Or even what happens when it does not quite get there.

As for the theatre. It is always good to have a surprise. There was a Butoh festival underway here in the past weeks. Sadly, I did not attend any performance, having spent my allotment on the Stoppard.


Pipany said...

I missed two blogs - how did that happen! Your Ma sounds like a lesson in patience Jane, poor you. Laughed at the story of James though...been there more times than I care to remember. Unfortunately my honesty is the best policy method means endless questions follow!!! xxx

Suffolkmum said...

Can't believe the theatre! I go quite frequently, since R works for a theatre and free tickets are the ONLY perk, but I just loathe audience participation, tend to run screaming! Was giggling away at your discomfiture with James. It is a ghastly thing to have to deal with, but I think (hope?) I've so far got off quite lightly - like Faith I talked about it all from day 1 so they've always known the basic mechanics, so to speak. No doubt I've done it all wrong though and my open and honest policy will come back to bite me - we can't win.

Fennie said...

Younger daughter was always mis- pronouncing things - 'Randy Rutter' at Christmas, Helicoptit (helicopter) and Oglurt (Yoghurt).

'Vinegar' was what lay down below as she found out one day in a museum with some rather graphic models, though what she then thought of pickled onions is not recorded. Anyway, perhaps it's easier with girls.

I don't think I should have liked the show. It reminds me too much of my grandmother. 'We're not high-brow,' she said earnestly one day, before adding quickly, 'but we're not low-brow either. We're middle-brow.'

Iota said...

Love it!

My 3 year old girl is very keen on babies, and rather hoping for one of her own to look after. I explained that you have to be all grown up before one can grow in your tummy. That evening, she looked at Daddy rather hopefully and asked "why does Daddy have a big fat tummy?" All grown up AND female - I'd missed that bit.

Milla said...

Great, Jane. T11 is pretty sussed (I fear) but F8 has no interest beyond his lego, his birds, his Famous 5. Imagine he'll find it "disgustin'" whereas T11 greeted the news (some years ago) with a rather horrid interest. Like you, it was me that did it. Obviously.

annakarenin said...

Apparently it is all in one of those Horrible Science books (body bits??) I have been reliably informed by Thomas, who was very blase about the sex ed lesson he recently had in school!!!! and felt he should have been alllowed to be in on the girls bit as he was certainly mature enough not to be silly??? Don't think that will be the case with Alec next year, mature is not a word that will ever be used to describe him unfortunately mind you he is well up on what animals do I think?

Interesting play!

Fire Byrd said...

wonderful stuff Jane.
Reminded me of youngest asking me at the table what a blow job was... not the easiest conversation I've ever had!!

CAMILLA said...

Wonderful Blog Jane,

That play at theatre is something to be desired.!

Oh Jane, with James, not the easiest of "birds & bees". I remember my daughter telling my granddaughter about this, she has a wonderful sense of humour thank god, when granddaughter quipped back, ARGH,Yuk, sounds totally disgusting, I am never gonna do that when I get older.!!


Pondside said...

If it hasn't already been to the Belfry Theatre here, I'm sure it soon will be! We seem to get a lot of writhing and acrobatics in the semi-nude, so your blog sounded vaguely familiar!
I'm so glad to have 'been there and done that' re the facts of life chats. We were always quite open and forthright, but that didn't stop the funny and awkwardly-timed questions. Main thing is to be as matter of fact and honest as possible (when you really want to shriek 'What?!?!?!' when asked, while driving the car, 'Mummy please show me where babies come out' (five year old from the back seat) My matter-of-fact answer "Sorry sweetie, but Mummy is driving and it isn't safe" and of course it was all forgotten by the time we got home - thank GAWD!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

aching with the giggles I was reading that in my lunch hour at work...couldnt comment then ...couldn't sign in....have now read again at home and have laughed all over again. Brilliant.

Mopsa said...

I think I've just regressed to 9 too; the concept of hairy poos had me falling off my chair.

Anonymous said...

That gave me a good giggle!

Sally Townsend said...

Hysterical laughter coming from over the channel, you tell it so well !!

@themill said...

You tell it so well. Fortunately, being brought up with the mechanics of cows and sheep made it all so much more straight forward.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

hideous performance. I would have been out of there well before the bin bag was being thrown about.
Daughter at about 8 : Mum, I know about men and penises and women and vaginas and seed.
Me: silent self congratulation.
Daughter: and the penis goes into the vagina to leave the seed?
Me: That's right.
D: But Daddy's thing is all floppy. Doesn't it just flop about and miss the hole?
What do you say? You are not alone.


Gosh - wherever do they find these wierd theatre performances? And I wonder how it went down with the tweedy coats and interesting jewellery.

Don't worry, if your school is anything like yours, James will be getting the tadpole video next year, and there'll be no mystery left to explain (except, perhaps, whether it hurts). I must say, being an only one, I think my boy takes some comfort in the fact that his parents have only done the whole disgusting thing once. I mean, some of his friends parents must have done it three times!

Kitty said...

Oh Lordy - embarrassing theatre and embarrassing conversations in one blog. When H asked me the question (he was 4 - horrible interest for one so young), I got out the 'Mummy Laid an Egg' book by Babette Cole, and he was so taken with the idea of the man's tube going in the lady's tube that he asked if he could have a look at mine! Oh, erm.. not really. 'Why?' Heck, what d you say? I'm all for being honest, but hey, there's a line to be drawn. Now he's nearly 8 it's all 'besgusting'. Obviously.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I had the willy discussion with my kids in the car on the way home from school. Just as my daughter started to ask, "So did Daddy put his willy inside your hole?" we turned into the drive and I sang out, "We're home now." And the latest installment was also in the car. What is it about the car?

Pili pala said...

Jane thats so funny. I remember our youngest catching us in the act, so to speak. She said "stop hurting mummy", to which the reply was,"I''m tickling mummy", to which she replied"then why isn't she laughing!"
Kids, they never let you down. The most embarresing moment was she retold her story in front of her teenage siblings at the dinner table.How is it kids make us feel like naughty teenagers, could it be the distgusted looks and you don't still do it do you,looks

countrymousie said...

Well I laughed till I cried I am afraid - only just had time to start reading blogs. You painted such a picture I feel I almost know Adrian!!!!
I loved the "its rather nice actually" bit - I do hope he tells his mates!!! love mousie

Milla said...

Come on, Madam, my turn to tap foot and look at watch impatiently. Yeah, yeah, I know, SZM, collapsing house, child to ferry round the world, but your audience demands a blog. And it's been a month, you know, you're getting slacker than me!!! xx

Anonymous said...

Gigglingly glorious as always my friend; with all my pc probs only getting round to this now. Belatedly belated best birthday wishes to that young man, I forsee he will go places! Isn't it great to see that he has managed to hang on to his innocence this long. 'round here they come into the world with a microsoft chip in hand and all the details are installed by the time the first nappy is changed.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Fabulous!! I laughed out loud!
I always say, if they are old enough to ask the question they are old enough to get the answer!!...
If it's any consolation, I think my 14 year old is VERY sensible based on how we have approached the facts of life with him.

Warm wishes

Queen Vixen said...

Jane, that was the funniest post I have ever read, on anyones blog, ever in the history of blog land. Sheer brilliance! How ghastly was that theatre compan?!? The feeling of being stuck in an audience when its all horribly visual and cutting edge experience - oooohhh nooooooo! Your sex ed lesson was great! nowt wrong with that!

Fire Byrd said...

Jane, have you left the country? I'm missing your posts.

I really wish you and your gang a wonderful Christmas and \a Happy New Year.

Mopsa said...

All best wishes for 2008.

Grouse said...

You couldnt just see 'My Fair Lady' like the rest of us could you?

I thought I might escape the sex-talk thing with the twins, having brought them up on a farm. No such luck. ' Oh! GROSS! was the son's response.

Anonymous said...

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Posie said...

Just catching up, sat working my way through a big pack of biscuits as I indulge incatching up on some blogs,so could relate to your mars bar addiction. You had me in hysterics there, children are so funny, try Babette Cole's 'Mummy Laid and Egg', it is fantastic for kids and really funny. Happy New Year, Posie x

blogthatmama said...

Ha ha! The Facts of Life make you wince, don't they? The Terminator recently asked me if his friend was a Caesarian birth was he a Vaginerun?