Because I was conceived and born, and grew up and I’m breathing, and my heart is beating, as much as it hurts, as much searing monumental pain it causes me-I have to exist.
Brenna Yovanoff – Paper Valentine
Mother was 42-years old when she gave birth to our hero. So in addition to her age, the fact that there was almost a mathematically zero chance of living, at all meant that he did well to be born. Fullstop. She gave birth to him in the month of February. February as a word derives from the last month of the ancient Roman calendar and refers to a month of purification. Whilst the old English name was mud month. So much more earthy. Wet earth of course. It was England after all. Mother had duly purified herself by jettisoning our hero into the world in mud month. As a young lady Mother had been informed by doctors that she would never be able to give birth to a child. Leastways not a live one. In fact that she was as barren as the surface of the moon and that there was more chance of Britain having a female Prime Minister one day, as if! (male humour circa early 1960s). The problem was that she had not developed reproductively from a girl into a woman. But this is the wonderful thing about doctors. And not only doctors. But the seemingly endless queue of experts who are wetting themselves to pass on bad news, the end of all and the nil chance of something happening forever. They get things wrong. They are not accurate in their doom-laden prophecies or simply cock it up. Well, in this case the doctor was wrong. For Mother this was not an unique experience in her life. The proof of the pudding being that our hero was the fourth pregnancy for Mother. He had an older sister, and elder brother and sadly the third pregnancy which did not make it out of the starting blocks. A real zero and a true dead end. Even before that another doctor duly informed Mother that she would not live beyond 30 years of age. Wrong again doc. How to make a young lady happy. Imagine that conversation.
Doctor Doom says
‘‘I am very sorry to have to inform you will never have children. What is more you will most likely die before you are 30 years of age. Have a good day and close the door on the way out, please. Next’’.
The next obstacle that the doctors said she could face was the very real prospect of giving birth to a child with Downs Syndrome. Which luckily did not happen. Enter Brother. Brother pointed out on a number of occasions in later life as being an accurate diagnosis. Horrible ginger cunt. Downs Syndrome, or the far less politically correct term, Mongolism, is the most common of all birth defects. Did anyone ever ask the Mongols of having their name ascribed to this malady? Ever have the politeness of enquiring if it was okay with them? Being over 40-years of age automatically put Mother in the, ‘we should warn her’ category for her doctor in his ‘list of things to do and what ‘what to tell my wife when I take the new young nurse for multiple meat injections over the weekend’, no maybe not that list! She was actually informed that she was at ‘high risk’ of having a Downs Syndrome child and that she should know the risks before considering her next move. Fortunately Mother didn’t listen to the professionals who were laying before her the option of an abortion.
Now according to early Christians, not ones that rise early in the morning you understand, but those hanging around at the start of the faith. Well these guys thought that Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus was the second person of the Holy Trinity, only second to God. So for Catholics, Jesus’ life was sacred from the very opening seconds of his conception in Mary’s womb. So a big no to abortion.
“Thereupon Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blest are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb. But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled’” (Lk 1:39-45). Well Mother didn’t use the Holy Spirit to get pregnant, or the Holy spirit did not use her, nor was there much ‘blesting’ at the news, but fortunately abortion was not an option, even as a non-Catholic, that she wanted to pursue. Phew!
So Mother would have been told something along the lines of the following. Downs Syndrome is a disorder, actually a clutch of birth defects which derive from a problem with chromosomes resulting in heart conditions and intellectual disability and the telltale characteristic familiarity of the facial features. Basically instead of having the requisite 23 male and 23 female chromosomes, an extra chromosome is added to the mix, and having 47 chromosomes rather than 46 is not good and leads to Downs Syndrome. Well, he had straddled another hurdle in the great race to exist, and assuming that he went the full 9-months, it means with some nifty back engineering that he was conceived and came into existence at the sub-atomic level sometime in May 1963.
But these were troubling times, the era into which he was formed and later born. Troubling indeed. During the early 1960s the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) became the latest thing in military must haves for a superpower. Now there are always dangerous people around leaders with crazy ideas. The U.S., those defenders of freedom and liberty and the American dream, had an idea. Dating from 1957 the U.S. military postulated the thesis of a preemptive nuclear strike against the then U.S.S.R. This gung ho attitude was rooted in the fact that the U.S. had an overwhelming strength in big stones to throw at the U.S.S.R. The U.S. Air Force and CIA leaders apparently believed that a window of complete ballistic missile superiority would hove into view for a perhaps, note perhaps, successful first strike in (late) 1963. This would of greatly limited his chance of existing, and quite a few other people, too. Thankfully somebody sane spoke up and the world did not descend into a Nuclear nightmare. Leastways not yet. Now back to a real nightmare. In this case which means that much vaunted home of excellence, British television. There was, and this is his distinct impression, nothing, shall we say stimulating on British television in the May of 1963. At least not enough to draw his parents attention to the television long enough to bypass the carnal urges that led to his conception. It must have been a night without the Black and White Minstrels Show, Liberace or something equally hideous to divert their energy. Something good on television, anything on television come to that, and the moment would have passed. For he was, as the counselor pointed out to him, definitely not planned for or wanted in any way shape or form beforehand.
Now the subject of sex rears its ugly head. Head, rears, isn’t this all a bit naughty? Or as John Cleese stated, “Life is a terminal disease, and it is sexually transmitted.” Mother had obviously got the hang of sex by the time he was conceived. Leastways at the most rudimentary level of laying down, putting it in and jiggling it about it. Praying or at least waiting patiently until Father had finished. Mot probably planning dinner for the next day. One of her favourite phrases lent weight to the ‘rudimentary’ level theory. Speak in less than glowing terms of Fathers prowess in all things related to the sexual and erotic pleasure. Mother was often heard lamenting,
‘’I don’t really know what all the fuss is about.’’ Nice.
Mother really should have taken Monty Python’s advice.
Sit on my face and tell me that you love me
I’ll sit on your face and tell you I love you too
I love to hear you oralize
When I’m between your thighs
You blow me away
Sit on my face and let my lips embrace you
I’ll sit on your face and then I’ll love you truly
Life can be fine if we both sixty nine
If we sit on our faces in all sorts of places
And play till we’re blown away
However our hero had learned in later life just how naive Mother had been about all things sexual. Especially as a young woman. A young lady who came from an English village named after a Saint no less, was warned earnestly, with much wagging of the parental finger, not to lay on the grass with a soldier. A very timely warning as soldiers were much in evidence due to a war. A big war and thus many soldiers. For those women who liked men in uniform, or part of it for a knee trembler, the war was a boon. A fact which in fact led to a surfeit of men in uniform in general. He thought about this warning handed out to his Mother, and decided that it actually included all serviceman, and probably men in general. However Grandfather had highlighted soldiers as the main threat. Most probably as he had been a soldier himself. Dirty old hypocrite, another man’s daughter was fair game! Back to the warning which basically proclaimed that laying on the grass with a soldier would result in her being with child. Pregnant, as if by a miracle. Most likely with three wise men no doubt seeking her out in the local hostelries with gold, silver and muir, or more probably a pint of bitter, silk stockings and cigarettes.
For him and for you, the process that would lead from the sitting on the grass, to the having a child are obvious and as old as the hills. A theatre played out by humankind since the dawn of time, but one which it never grows tired of doing again and again. However for Mother the process was blanketed in a fog of ignorance. Sex and reproduction had a taboo and a dirtiness as enveloping as a London pea-souper. The poor woman simply lacked the wherewithal to make the necessary leap of logic, to connect up all the dots. This was all down to her upbringing. Being raised in a small village was bad enough. Being raise in a tiny world In conjunction with the general societal taboo in regards to all things sexual, which was blanketing and completely uninformative, well, it equaled a disaster. So Mother was completely bereft of any sex education. Talking of things sexual was taboo. Even the word sex would have been spoken in three low, single syllables, S-E-X, behind a cupped hand with eyes moving shiftily from left to right, or right to left depending on the prevailing wind.
Mothers parents were by birth Victorians. The age of Victoria shaped them and moulded them into rigid inflexible forms. Sadly many people born in the Victorian era were both badly informed and emotionally frigid about sex and laying on the grass in general. Historically, it appeared that the fun and bawdy behaviour and attitudes of the let’s just do it Regency period were replaced by a new order of puritan control and repression. This new order of tight assed repression was heralded in by the newly dominant bourgeoisie. It then filtered down through the strata of the social fabric, permeating every class. Basically trying to spoil everybody’s fun. Its footprint lasted well into the twentieth century. ‘Lie back and think of England’, as one mother is famously said to have advised her newly married daughter who was anxious about the coming event. Very helpful. From such an environment, with such ignorance, was Mothers upbringing shaped. Mother was not only uninformed of things relating to sex, but had to be chased to school by grandmother with a broom to learn anything at all. From this great village institution she gleaned very little and from which she was able to leave at the tender age of 13. The school not the broom. Mother then went straight to work at a local mill. Ironically with a broom. She was bereft of education and lacked insight into the world in general, and sex in particular. Mother was adrift in life without much in the way of preparation, let alone parental guidance. But by way of consolation she did have a good broom. Bass broom.
What were the ramifications of being told to stay of the grass lest she become pregnant? Manifold. Mother duly adhered strictly to pavements, ardently to roads and other man made reassuringly artificial surfaces, but not on the grass. Nope, not the grass. Especially if men were lounging seductively upon its velvety surface. Seen to be lounging on their backs supporting their weight on their elbows and suggestively thrusting their genitalia skyward, inviting her to partake of immoral salaciousness. How signs reading, ‘’Stay of the Grass’’ must have taken on almost semi-erotic warnings. Inviting people to partake of such overt salacious behaviour. Disgraceful. Even when first married and living with Grandmother and Grandfather, aglow with news of her first pregnancy she asked Grandmother for information about the birth. This was because for all she knew the baby would emerge from her belly button. And this she had stated was her opinion. Mother was bereft of any information. Full stop. So the following conversation ensued.
‘’Where will the baby come out of, Mum?’’
Grandmother was succinct and direct in her reply.
‘’Do you remember how it got in there?’’ she asked.
‘’Yes’’ replied Mother.
‘’Well, it’ll come out the same fuckin’ way it got in there in the first place’’.
And there you have it. The miracle and wonder of birth explained in unequivocal terms for Mother. There was such a veil drawn across the subject of sex, and whisper it quietly, reproduction, that even talking of it was problematical. Even for Mother being a married woman and announcing that she and Father were expecting their first child caused a stir. Grandmother didn’t mince her words. Grandmother called her a whore. To her daughters face, a whore, her own married daughter. Grandmother had been at the wedding, seen the service, heard the vowels and witnessed the swapping of rings. What more did she want? In fact the problem was selfishness. Mother had found love and been married relatively late in life. In her late twenties, distinctly late in that era. For her family she was an old maid. Left on the shelf. Grandmother had, in her mind, appointed Mother as the child who would always be at home to do her bidding. To look after her and Grandfather when they grew old and infirm. Add to this the fact that Mother and Father were married in February and Sister was born in November, it was all just to quick! Not seemly. Oh, the love and support of a warm family unit. The tenderness and irreplaceable support of his doting Grandmother for his Mother. But that was just the shame associated with all things linked to reproduction. Imagine Grandmother and Grandfathers unrivaled angst, if God forbid, a person actually enjoyed the sensuality of the sexual act and took erotic pleasure from the activity. And of course there was a warning story which did the rounds in the village to guard against just such a disgusting state of affairs as sex, reproduction and laying on the grass in general.
A young lady, let’s call her Miss Erotica, did not pay heed to her father’s entreaty to stay of the grass. Maybe he used another substandard ploy instead. But which in all events went unheeded, too. Erotica did not just ignore the warnings of a life of loose morals. Miss Erotica flagrantly threw them out of the window of obedience as she followed the hormones and the desires coursing through her young sex hungry body. She not only laid on the grass with a man, but men, many men and showed far too much interest in sex and the biological ins and outs of reproduction. And heaven for fend, not for the sake of reproduction, but just to have a good hard fuck and reach climax. Again, and again and again. In fact she was so diligent in her pursuit of her lusts that she was branded a cock-hungry slut in the village. At this juncture it is best to clarify that Miss Erotica was smitten with the male sexual organ, in its rampant form, and not with the male ‘gallinaceus bird’ usually a male chicken (Gallus Gallus). Which would of undoubtedly got her into far less trouble, and may even have brought her invitations to County shows and similar rustic events, where cock appreciation could have been done openly and in a socially acceptable manner.
No, sadly for Miss Erotica her sexual enthusiasm was focused on the male member, and to celebrate her hobby her mother and father took her to a doctor. The expert duly declared, after examining her thoroughly, nudge-nudge, that she was suffering from a chronic disease. Yes Mr and Mrs Erotica, your daughter is a dirty cock hungry slut who fucks like an uninhibited whore. Can you bring her back next week for another check-up said the doctor wiping his lips with handkerchief? No, there could be no mistake. The doctor was certain of the ailment afflicting poor Miss Erotica. She liked sex. Loved it. Was gagging for it. Couldn’t get enough. As a result of his expert diagnosis she was sent to a large building with barred windows, drugged and treated for her shameful affliction and removed from society. The local male community exhaled a deep collective sigh of sadness at the terrible heart-rending news. For Mother the moral of the message was clear. Neither talk about nor enjoy sex, an ethos she would pass on in Motherhood to her offspring in a diligent manner. But they would not listen.
Now back to 1963, and whether Mother was enjoying it or not, one of Father’s 1% life-giving super sperm was swimming towards one of her eggs with dogged determination. Just like the bombardier of a World War 2 Lancaster bomber over enemy territory. Egg in sight, penetrating now and fertilized, mission completed, and back for a cup of Rosie Lee and a full English breakfast. Spiffing. By the way, all this reference to swimming is odd, as he would later show no tendency whatsoever to aquatic sports at all, nor bathrooms in particular. Especially bearing in mind where our heroes Mother and Father first met.