An Erection and a Pay Cheque

(What I Did On My Summer Holiday Pt2)

 

Dominica Morning

Our merry band made its way home safely. The summer sail to Grenada and back, viewed through a lens of distance and time, was life changing. I now realise that I’m not entirely useless around a boat. I know that no matter how much you love your partner, separate cabins is the only way to go on a 40ft lump of fibre glass floating around on the oggin but above all I learned that sobbing on the bow of said lump is perfectly normal. Stressful times need a release valve. I’m not going to sugar coat the experience. There were tough times. There were occasions I sat in my cabin listening to the flights passing overhead and wondering if I could make it to the airport and catch the first flight home to Antigua. Thankfully with the help of the people we met, the places we visited and the friends we made I was able to give myself a kick up the arse and remember my good fortune to even be able to live here in The Caribbean let alone leave land for 3 months and sail towards the unknown horizon. I certainly haven’t become complacent; most days I still need to pinch myself, but life on a boat turned the volume up to 11. I got to see, taste and smell even more awesome landscapes, flavours and scents. Here awesome is used in the truest sense of the word not the “Oh my gaaaad this waaaaaffle is arrrrrrrsam” sense. How can anyone not be overawed when walking through a rain forest with monkeys screaming over their head through the rain forest canopy? Who but the truly dead inside would not marvel at the ability of Grenadian bus drivers to cram 25 people into a bus designed to carry 16? Only the most jaded, cynical or zombie brained humans would not be overwhelmed at the cornucopian backdrop when walking through a country where no one should, in theory, starve; where every road and path is lined with fruit ready to pick straight from the trees and bushes.

The sailing itself was sailing. We sailed to places, we didn’t die, we anchored, moored or berthed, and we set sail again. In between we lived. We breathed in whatever each island had to throw at us. I danced from my soul at carnival in Grenada. I swear I probably ovulated fully for the last time in my life during J’ouvert – the first morning of carnival where everyone descends on the road to a soundtrack of thumping base, dragging boots and screaming exclamations of freedom. A place where all the men seem to look like Usain Bolt and ask your permission to dance, if you say no, that’s accepted and they move on. Other men should learn from that. The places we anchored, hiked and explored reads like a list from a National Geographic publication.

I won’t bore the shit out of you by describing the squalls, anchor drags or shitty passages because quite honestly, they bore the crap out of me and I was there. The memory I take from the past summer needs to be positive because if its not, I probably won’t set sail on a boat again. The jury is reconsidering its verdict on that but I’m sure it will be a majority verdict in favour of a trip somewhere.

What I wouldn’t recommend to anyone is having their menopause on a boat. I know I should have said ‘her menopause’ but John has been on as much of a learning curve as I have. It is a stage in life and marriage we are experiencing very much together. There have been times where I have thought that I’ve been going insane and when John has asked me to describe how it feels? The best answer I had at the time was, “I don’t feel like me inside my head anymore and I can’t do anything about it.” Whether because menopause is one of the final taboos or whether it’s just something women are expected to get on with, I felt ill equipped to rationalise and understand fully what was and is going on. To deal with the daily rollercoaster of changes ravaging my body and mind is bad enough but to contain that in a 40ft vessel is less than ideal. All the online advice to eat well and exercise is not always possible. Getting ashore is one obstacle, what’s available once you get there is another. Ramen noodles, corned beef and sparse rations of tinned vegetables were the best I could muster at times.  I suspect tiny agitations become amplified in these surroundings, exemplified best when I threatened John with divorce in St Lucia. This wasn’t just a threat. I had a well thought out cunning plan and I fully intended to execute that plan. At least I wasn’t planning to execute him. Having read tales of sailing couples ‘going missing’ at sea, I sense a back story.

I have always been proud of my mind, my common sense and my ability to think my way out of any situation. There are days I possess none of those things. Anxiety attacks, palpitations, hot flushes, forgetfulness, stinking rancid periods (when they happen and hell, that’s a roulette wheel, roll up roll up, place your bets, when she floods, nobody knows) but most of all what I find terrifying are the times when I simply have no energy to eat, move or engage with other people. This isn’t depression. The moods pass as fleetingly as they begin. Compound this with the memory of my Grandmother going completely interstellar mental during her menopause – I mean the woman lost the plot. She tried carving up the house with a bread knife a few days before we were due to go on a family holiday. I say she lost the plot, she never had much of a storyline anyway; her themes were a pedestrian tale of tyrannical family rule and sociopathic whims. So as you can imagine, every time I feel like my stable reality is slipping away I worry that The Grandmother is possessing me from the beyond. I know it will pass and I’ll come through the other side complete with wizened womb and obsolete ovaries and I cannot wait for that stage. It’s this bit in the middle that I am not enjoying and I hope that the more I talk to other women going through the same it will stop being a taboo subject. I used to boggle at young girls who hadn’t been told about puberty and periods and how I thought we’d got past that in a western culture. Now I boggle at how we women don’t talk openly about the other great change in our reproductive lives.

I hope when I emerge through this tunnel of confusion that my creativity returns and my acid tongue finds some alkali because I actually found myself at a social gathering last week telling men in my company that women no longer need them because we have electric tooth brushes. I know, right? I mean I know I’ve been guilty of telling people that John and I ran a sex dungeon just to shut them the fuck up about how we made our retirement pot but seriously, electric tooth brushes was a retort too far even for me. I suppose he and his male companion were asking for it. I’d sat quietly for about an hour listening to them discussing how relationships with older women should be conducted. I chirped in, after a couple of sipping rums mind you, that they needed to get over themselves because since the invention of the electric toothbrush men really need to bring something more to the party. I was told we still need men to provide for us. Sigh and eye roll. I said that as long as the toothbrushes are rechargeable, preferably solar powered out here, then they would have to bring something more to the party than an erection and a pay cheque. Yeh I know, I don’t think I’ll be invited back for a while.

Roll on leaving this perimenopausal state of insanity, not just for my sake but also for the sake of our elderly neighbourhood Lotharios.

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An Erection and a Pay Cheque

(What I Did On My Summer Holiday Pt2)

 

Dominica Morning

Our merry band made its way home safely. The summer sail to Grenada and back, viewed through a lens of distance and time, was life changing. I now realise that I’m not entirely useless around a boat. I know that no matter how much you love your partner, separate cabins is the only way to go on a 40ft lump of fibre glass floating around on the oggin but above all I learned that sobbing on the bow of said lump is perfectly normal. Stressful times need a release valve. I’m not going to sugar coat the experience. There were tough times. There were occasions I sat in my cabin listening to the flights passing overhead and wondering if I could make it to the airport and catch the first flight home to Antigua. Thankfully with the help of the people we met, the places we visited and the friends we made I was able to give myself a kick up the arse and remember my good fortune to even be able to live here in The Caribbean let alone leave land for 3 months and sail towards the unknown horizon. I certainly haven’t become complacent; most days I still need to pinch myself, but life on a boat turned the volume up to 11. I got to see, taste and smell even more awesome landscapes, flavours and scents. Here awesome is used in the truest sense of the word not the “Oh my gaaaad this waaaaaffle is arrrrrrrsam” sense. How can anyone not be overawed when walking through a rain forest with monkeys screaming over their head through the rain forest canopy? Who but the truly dead inside would not marvel at the ability of Grenadian bus drivers to cram 25 people into a bus designed to carry 16? Only the most jaded, cynical or zombie brained humans would not be overwhelmed at the cornucopian backdrop when walking through a country where no one should, in theory, starve; where every road and path is lined with fruit ready to pick straight from the trees and bushes.

The sailing itself was sailing. We sailed to places, we didn’t die, we anchored, moored or berthed, and we set sail again. In between we lived. We breathed in whatever each island had to throw at us. I danced from my soul at carnival in Grenada. I swear I probably ovulated fully for the last time in my life during J’ouvert – the first morning of carnival where everyone descends on the road to a soundtrack of thumping base, dragging boots and screaming exclamations of freedom. A place where all the men seem to look like Usain Bolt and ask your permission to dance, if you say no, that’s accepted and they move on. Other men should learn from that. The places we anchored, hiked and explored reads like a list from a National Geographic publication.

I won’t bore the shit out of you by describing the squalls, anchor drags or shitty passages because quite honestly, they bore the crap out of me and I was there. The memory I take from the past summer needs to be positive because if its not, I probably won’t set sail on a boat again. The jury is reconsidering its verdict on that but I’m sure it will be a majority verdict in favour of a trip somewhere.

What I wouldn’t recommend to anyone is having their menopause on a boat. I know I should have said ‘her menopause’ but John has been on as much of a learning curve as I have. It is a stage in life and marriage we are experiencing very much together. There have been times where I have thought that I’ve been going insane and when John has asked me to describe how it feels? The best answer I had at the time was, “I don’t feel like me inside my head anymore and I can’t do anything about it.” Whether because menopause is one of the final taboos or whether it’s just something women are expected to get on with, I felt ill equipped to rationalise and understand fully what was and is going on. To deal with the daily rollercoaster of changes ravaging my body and mind is bad enough but to contain that in a 40ft vessel is less than ideal. All the online advice to eat well and exercise is not always possible. Getting ashore is one obstacle, what’s available once you get there is another. Ramen noodles, corned beef and sparse rations of tinned vegetables were the best I could muster at times.  I suspect tiny agitations become amplified in these surroundings, exemplified best when I threatened John with divorce in St Lucia. This wasn’t just a threat. I had a well thought out cunning plan and I fully intended to execute that plan. At least I wasn’t planning to execute him. Having read tales of sailing couples ‘going missing’ at sea, I sense a back story.

I have always been proud of my mind, my common sense and my ability to think my way out of any situation. There are days I possess none of those things. Anxiety attacks, palpitations, hot flushes, forgetfulness, stinking rancid periods (when they happen and hell, that’s a roulette wheel, roll up roll up, place your bets, when she floods, nobody knows) but most of all what I find terrifying are the times when I simply have no energy to eat, move or engage with other people. This isn’t depression. The moods pass as fleetingly as they begin. Compound this with the memory of my Grandmother going completely interstellar mental during her menopause – I mean the woman lost the plot. She tried carving up the house with a bread knife a few days before we were due to go on a family holiday. I say she lost the plot, she never had much of a storyline anyway; her themes were a pedestrian tale of tyrannical family rule and sociopathic whims. So as you can imagine, every time I feel like my stable reality is slipping away I worry that The Grandmother is possessing me from the beyond. I know it will pass and I’ll come through the other side complete with wizened womb and obsolete ovaries and I cannot wait for that stage. It’s this bit in the middle that I am not enjoying and I hope that the more I talk to other women going through the same it will stop being a taboo subject. I used to boggle at young girls who hadn’t been told about puberty and periods and how I thought we’d got past that in a western culture. Now I boggle at how we women don’t talk openly about the other great change in our reproductive lives.

I hope when I emerge through this tunnel of confusion that my creativity returns and my acid tongue finds some alkali because I actually found myself at a social gathering last week telling men in my company that women no longer need them because we have electric tooth brushes. I know, right? I mean I know I’ve been guilty of telling people that John and I ran a sex dungeon just to shut them the fuck up about how we made our retirement pot but seriously, electric tooth brushes was a retort too far even for me. I suppose he and his male companion were asking for it. I’d sat quietly for about an hour listening to them discussing how relationships with older women should be conducted. I chirped in, after a couple of sipping rums mind you, that they needed to get over themselves because since the invention of the electric toothbrush men really need to bring something more to the party. I was told we still need men to provide for us. Sigh and eye roll. I said that as long as the toothbrushes are rechargeable, preferably solar powered out here, then they would have to bring something more to the party than an erection and a pay cheque. Yeh I know, I don’t think I’ll be invited back for a while.

Roll on leaving this perimenopausal state of insanity, not just for my sake but also for the sake of our elderly neighbourhood Lotharios.

Arse Gravy and the Saga of the Hidden Bollock.

MiserableFred

Stephen Fry (all hail the Lord Fry for he shall be exalted) is attributed as referring to Dan Brown’s novels as ‘Arse Gravy’.  Arse Gravy is a very strong term for anything. I admire anyone who has the sheer guts to allow their literary work to see the light of day. I’ve spent years in the darkness typing furiously and deleting most of it. I’ve not read any of the works of Dan Brown and I doubt that I ever will; sitting through the film adaptations was bad enough. So to call someone’s work ‘Arse Gravy’ is in my opinion quite horrid. I normally agree with most things Mr Fry says but on this occasion he and I will have to agree to disagree. I’m sure he’s going to lose a lot of sleep!

Why am I bleating on about Arse Gravy? Well the thing is I’ve experienced REAL arse gravy, many times; most of it in the last 48 hours.

Allow me a long ramble but it’ll make sense in the end I promise. Anyway, young Mr Fred and his undescended testicle have been rather a prominent theme in our household since returning home from Antigua. Will it drop, won’t it drop, is he congenitally deformed, and how much is it going to bloody well cost us this time? Every sneeze, cough, limp and loose stool is met with that look on my husband’s face which says “Oh fuck, there goes my dreams of ever owning a Gibson

Fred’s bollocks have been the talking point in texts, emails, phone calls, and social media. My mother and I have had many a phone call primarily discussing his testicles or lack of them. Yes I know I need to get out more.

With great excitement and after much inappropriate prodding we (I say we I mean me) were proud to announce that Fred’s missing bollock had finally arrived ten days ago. It was as much of a shock to him as it was to us/me. Although not as big a shock as it was to Holly our retriever.  Holly was the first recipient of Fred’s newly found masculinity. Their morning ritual of pee, poo, food, play was interrupted quite markedly when Fred’s rear end spontaneously started dry humping Holly’s tail. Holly was quite understandably shocked and horrified. Like the empowered female she is, she promptly flipped the rampant little sex pest  on his back and pinned him by his collar. Fred let out a howl not only at being defeated but he seemed genuinely dismayed and let down by his behaviour; he stood up and stared at his back end as if it was an independent part of his body.  I think it was at that moment Fred became aware of the two dangly bits between his legs. Prior to the day of the great descent he’d not really given much attention to his winkie. He’s never been an obsessive willy licker unlike some dogs we’ve had who used to grunt and chow down on their bits at every quiet moment in their day. Ben, our late retriever, was quite the expert in auto-fellatio. It seemed that Fred had the potential to take Ben’s crown so it was decided that the bollocks needed removal ASAP.

The vet was rung, the appointment made and on the day of the operation he trotted off with my husband very merrily as if going to a play date with little doggy friends.

In due course Fred was collected from the vet, sans bollocks and brought home.

The poor little chap was pitiful to look at. He was shivering, confused, dopey from the anaesthetic and stinking. I mean really hooching. We’re not talking about the smell dogs have when they are frightened, no I mean the overwhelming stench of raw sewage. His arse was erupting with the most disgusting smells. It was like nothing I’ve ever smelled from any dog we have ever had.

That night he lay all snuggled in his blanket going off like swamp gas escaping from the primordial soup. If you’ve ever seen ‘Labyrinth’ you’ll know about ‘the bog of eternal stench’ well Jim Henson clearly experienced the rancid putrid smell of dog farts when he created that.

Naturally the smells were accompanied by mounds and mounds of runny shit, dotted all over our yard. No I mean dribbly, complete and utter vomit inducing arse gravy. I have used an entire packet of poo bags and half a bottle of bleach to clean up the yard. I even had a panic attack when my husband rang to tell me that we had a potential viewing on our house. NO! I rang the Estate Agents to verify; thankfully it was a false alarm. The state of Fred’s arse had become so deadly I had to inform the Estate Agents that the house would be quarantined until I could stem the tide of brown sludge. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was so bad that if Tony Blair walked in here right at that moment he’d declare us hoarders of WMDs, declare war and blast us off the face of the planet. All I can say is I’m glad the estate agent  found it funny.

Fred was un-phased by the whole thing. Once the anaesthetic had worn off and he’d had a good night’s sleep he was back to his ninja puppy self. The only problem with this was that a vile cloud of stink was emitted with every leap and tail wag.

Several of my teachers told me that I would amount to shit; their prophecy was beginning to ring true.

So where was my lovely husband during this traumatic 24 hours? Norway, he’d fucked off to Norway for a meeting. Convenient.  Being a thoughtful and caring person my husband telephoned home to check on Fred and me. I exploded at him in pretty much the same way Fred’s arse had exploded in our house and yard. Yes I know there was sod all he could do sitting Aberdeen Airport waiting for a flight but it made me feel better to vent and take a break from shit mopping.

Several minutes after my phone vent, lovely husband telephoned back; the person he was travelling with has a partner who is a veterinary nurse and he’d asked her for advice. Apparently the painkiller Fred was given is KNOWN to cause runny poo. Oh fucking great! He’d had 3 doses in the space of 36 hours.  The painkiller was binned.

So, if we combine rich puppy food, trauma of bollock removal, shite inducing painkiller, anaesthetic and the emergency administration of a lung worm vaccination following a sneaky slug munch the result is arse gravy; real gut retching arse gravy.  I’ve read some uninspiring books in my time but nothing that could ever be compared to arse gravy and the horror of what shot out of Fred’s arse over the last 2 days.

As of 11o’clock today and following a moderate breakfast, Fred appears to be fine; he is currently snuggling with his Holly. The smell is subsiding and the quarantine may be lifted. Me? Oh I need therapy and most certainly a long hot bath.