Shall We Talk About Death Or Sex?

I probably talk or think about death more often than others.

I don’t talk about sex as much as I do death, but is that a problem when entering the autumn years of your life?

Many people I know don’t like talking about death. Do you? Many don’t enjoy discussing sex but is it easier to talk about than death?

Is it odd or natural to think and talk about death and sex simultaneously? You tell me.

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Which one do you feel most comfortable discussing?

Once upon a time, sex was a subject people didn’t like talking about. I’m going back to my early years here when sex was a hush-hush subject, almost taboo.

There was little information available about sex while I was growing up. The reaction I once got from my elders when I asked, ‘where do babies come from because I know the stork doesn’t bring them?‘ was like watching the faces of those watching the gory scene in a horror movie. ‘Is it something about a man and a woman solving a puzzle?‘ I went on to ask.

When I asked those questions, I got looks of shock, horror and embarrassment. My grandmother walked out of the room while my mother and father tried to change the subject quickly.

Lockdown talk

During the lockdown, my partner and I talked about death. But it was only while updating our wills. We couldn’t get past the point where we would talk about our deaths and what we wanted to happen when that time came. ‘We’ll talk about that another day,’ I told myself, yet death can come to any of us anytime. Can you imagine the problems we cause by not talking to each other about death?

Although nobody likes talking about death, we read, write and watch it happening in books, on television, in theatres and cinemas. It seems natural when reading, writing or watching it, but when talking about our deaths or the death of somebody we know, there comes the point where I hope somebody else will take the lead, and the subject will quickly change.

Why am I talking about death?

I have written about death here, but the truth is that what I call the otherside of death (where the person dying is not me) is approaching; it becomes a subject we can’t avoid. I have an aunt who is nearing the end of her life.

At 95 years old, some say my aunt has had an excellent innings. She loved life, but she wouldn’t like the life she is now living. I think I followed her for the love she had for life. However, she has spent what is left of her life in a hospital bed for the last three months. Her final words to me before she went into a deep sleep were, ‘I want to go home.’

I can relate to how she feels. Whenever I have been ill and not at home, I’ve always wanted to go home. If we allow it, being in familiar surroundings can help. Well, it always works for me. But does it help when nearing our final days?

As she faded in and out of consciousness, my aunt reacted to some voices in her hospital room yet ignored others. I wondered if she could choose which voices she wanted to respond to and which she chose to ignore? Does she have any control over what she hears while her life slips away?

Why do some people die quicker than others?

Truth be known, I wouldn’t say I like watching my aunt’s death being so drawn-out. The family all agree that she’d hate to be at the point she is – having to live the drawing out of the last days of her life in a deep sleep in a hospital bed. ‘There’s nothing else we can do for her except keep her comfortable,’ the medical staff tell us. ‘But keep talking to her because hearing is the last sense to go.

Really? Is hearing the last thing the dying sense? How can they possibly know? Have some of these staff lived previous lives, or has somebody who has left this world told them that’s what happens? It seems odd to say. I can not work out how they know.

When my father died in October 2020, his death was swift. He died within 24 hours of being taken ill. There were no weeks of being unconscious in a hospital bed. Yet when my mother died in September 2015, she took many weeks to die after we were told there was nothing else they could do. Why do some people die quickly, yet others seem to take weeks, months or years to pass?

Are those who have long-drawn-out deaths having to pay for what they may have done during their lives, or is there something or someone who has overall control over how long it takes for us to die? Do some linger because there is some unsettled business to attend to, or do we have no power over how long it takes to take that final breath?

Where do we go just before we die?

Years ago, I believed there was a waiting room we entered when dying. We sat there waiting for our name to be called before going through another door that took us on our next journey. Some remained longer in that waiting room than others. But while we wait, we are occasionally permitted to briefly go back through the first door to check what is happening in the world we are leaving. Perhaps we’re not quite ready to go because we’re waiting for somebody to come and say goodbye?

I’ve often asked myself why my mother took so long to pass away. Did she not want to go, or was she told she had to wait her turn? In life, we queue. Do we have to queue to die?

When we die, are we leaving behind those still alive, or do the living leave us behind?

I probably talk or think about death more often than others. Many people I know don’t like talking about it. How often do you talk about death?

Perhaps I should have talked more about sex? But would anyone have wanted to discuss it with me?

What are your thoughts on why we dislike discussing death or sex?

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Watch Out For The Matador! – A True Story And Guest Post By Sally Cronin @sgc58

I’m delighted to welcome Sally Cronin to my blog today, sharing a true story that had me laughing all day after I read it. It bought back many happy memories of a similar nature for me, especially some of the parts I played in school plays and amateur dramatics.

Watch Out For The Matador – A True Story by Sally Cronin

Many of you will know Sally from her successful blog where she is constantly helping to promote the works of bloggers, authors and writers alike.

Will Sally’s story have you as staged-struck and laughing in the aisles as I was after reading it?


My two sisters who were ten and eleven years older than I was, both trained as secretaries, which led to them having some interesting and high level jobs over the years.

However, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a singer and actress! The desire to follow this career path was my mother’s fault really. Apart from the fact that she had a bit of a flair for the dramatic, she manipulated me into being her co-conspirator every Saturday afternoon.

My father loved football, and after he had cooked us one of his Spaghetti Bolognese lunches, followed by steamed treacle duff as he called them, we would retire to the lounge where our television took pride of place. I would have been about seven or eight at the time and my mother would coerce me into facilitating her viewing pleasure; the Saturday afternoon musical on BBC2.

Of course this conflicted with the afternoon football offering by Grandstand on BBC1. Fortunately my father had a weakness. Stoked up with carbohydrates and sugars from lunch, within 10 minutes of the match starting, he would be stretched out in his recliner, snoring.

In the good old days it was necessary to get up and down to switch channels, and this is where I came in.

As soon as my father began snoring, my mother would nudge me, and I would creep across the carpet to turn the channel over to BBC2 and the Saturday musical. Things did get a little hectic at times if there was a temporary change to my father’s breathing. At a shove from my mother, I would leap up from the sofa, dash across the room and switch channels back to the football. My father would watch blearily for about five minutes then resume his afternoon nap.

This would happen several times during the course of the movie, and as the final credits scrolled up the screen, I would turn the channel back over to BBC 1. My father would wake up to enjoy the cup of tea my mother had made, convinced he had watched 90 minutes of fancy footwork, but not the kind we had been watching.

This Saturday afternoon ritual fuelled my love of dancing and singing. My heart and soul burned to be the lead, dancing and singing my way through the performances like Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams (yes I would have done synchronised swimming if called for) Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor etc.

I had seen South Pacific at age ten and I would have even taken the role of Bloody Mary given half the chance. I knew all the lyrics from all the popular musicals of the day and wept buckets as John Kerr lip synched to “Younger than Springtime”; and I could perform all the songs from the Sound of Music.

Over the next few years I was lucky enough to be cast in a number of school plays. Being tall for my age, it usually involved me standing completely still for thirty minutes in the guise of a tree or some other inanimate object.

I did attempt to achieve some form of recognition for my talents, which included dressing in Swiss costume and dragging one of my friends around to old people’s homes to entertain the residents with the songs from The Sound of Music (they were very appreciative, let me tell you!).

This did not impress my parents, who were adamant that when I left school, I must train as a secretary, as drama was not a profession to be relied on.

Sally – aged 16

I left school in September 1969 at age 16 and enrolled in technical college for a year’s secretarial course. Over the course of the next twelve months, I became very proficient in shorthand and typing, but it was the extra classes we took in English that I enjoyed the most.

Our teacher also taught drama, and had trained more than a few successful actors and actresses over the years. To my delight, she was casting for that year’s drama production which was the operetta “Passion Flower”, based on the story of Carmen, but adapted for the amateur stage.

Without informing my parents I auditioned. I was rather expecting to be cast as part of the scenery again, but you can imagine my absolute thrill when our producer chose me to play Micaela – Carmen’s rival for the matador’s affections. Something that I kept from my parents, and they assumed I would be part of the chorus as usual.

Police cadets did their initial training at the college, and several of these were roped in to play the soldiers. Our producer recruited outside talent from her drama group to play the leads including an Australian dentist in his mid-thirties who took on the role of the matador, Escamillo, and a wonderful young singer called Julie took the part of Carmen.

The performances ran for three nights, and by the final evening I had almost conquered my nerves, despite the fact there were two very important people in the audience. I had persuaded my parents to come on the last night, with the expectation that it was likely to be the most flawless performance of the three.

I was desperately hoping that if they saw how passionate I was about acting (and my talent); they might relent in their objections to me attending drama school.

I can still remember standing in the wings that night, knees quaking as I prepared for the cat fight with Carmen, followed by being manhandled by the soldiers as they pulled us apart enthusiastically.

All was going very well until we reached the final scene when Escamillo threw a rose onto poor dead Carmen’s body, having been stabbed by a former lover, and then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss!

Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, our lead actor had been celebrating the end to the run by consuming a number of cans of beer hidden in the wings. This certainly gave his performance some extra gusto which our producer put down to exuberance. As I swanned across the stage and into his arms for the expected stage kiss, he bent me over backwards and gave me a hearty smacker, before picking me up and rushing off stage.

Cue a very loud gasp from the cast clustered around poor Carmen’s corpse and from the front row where my mother and father were seated with other VIP guests. I can only assume they had already been taken aback by my starring role as a floozy, in an off the shoulder blouse, big earrings and a penchant for men in uniform.

I also had an inkling that these last few minutes had not gone down well. My erstwhile suitor and I joined the cast and clasped hands, bowing in appreciation of the applause. All I could focus on was my father, arms crossed with a very frosty look on his face.

My mother told me later that my father had turned to her and shouted over the applause, ‘Who is that man and what was he up to with our daughter?”  At this point, a woman who was sat next to my mother announced furiously ‘That would be my husband.”

As you can imagine, this fiasco did not further my ambitions to be allowed to attend drama school. Two weeks later, when I had graduated with my secretarial diploma, the evening paper’s employment section was strategically placed next to my beans on toast for supper. Probably for the best, as I have enjoyed a wonderful variety of jobs across a number of industries including broadcasting.

However, my love of musicals has never diminished, and who knows… maybe one day!

***

#books #authors #author
Author, writer and blogger, Sally Cronin

About Sally Cronin

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, Sally wrote and published her first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about her weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

Sally’s aim was to create a watering hole on her blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2021, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 8th anniversary.

As important as her own promotion is, Sally believes it’s important to support others within our community. She offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog, linked to social media.

Having lived a nomadic existence most of her life, Sally is now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with her husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.

Connect with Sally

Blog

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Sally’s Latest Book – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet

Life is like a bowl of cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

Click here to buy Sally’s latest book

More books from Sally

More books from Sally

My thanks to Sally for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Sally, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT

One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I never sat down with my mother and told her that I’m gay. I chose, instead, the easy option of writing to her and telling her that I was a homosexual.

nips heart wallpaper
Photo by Sydney Troxell on Pexels.com

Facing Mum for the first time, after writing that letter, I was very nervous as I travelled to where she lived. I hesitated several times before walking up to the front door, ringing the doorbell, and announcing my arrival.

What a shock I got when she came towards me with open arms and, as she gave me one of her wonderful hugs, hearing her whisper the words “I always knew you were gay, I don’t know why it took you so long to tell me.”

Mum & Hugh
Me and mum. Taken sometime in the 1980s, just after I had told her I was gay.

Not all my family were like mum, though. Some told me they were having difficulty in accepting what I was because it wasn’t the sort of thing that happened to men in the area we came from. Hurtful words, but I already knew that the best thing I could do was to keep away from those who were upset by the life I was given, and allow them to live their lives as they wanted.

Over the years, I regained contact with some of those family members and, thankfully, have the changing face of society to thank for bringing us back together.

The fact that, in the past, there had been a few other men in the family who had never married, never seemed to raise any suspicions that the family had gay people as a part of it. It may have been talked about, but never while I was in the room.

I don’t know if any of those men ever ‘came out.’ Probably not, but it must have been difficult for those that were gay at the time they lived. This only made me more determined to live my life how I wanted and not the way others wanted me to live it.

Moving to work and live in London, in 1986, was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. Although the city acted as a wall which seemed to protect gay people, I was still finding it difficult to ‘come out.’

It was a strange situation because the first two jobs I took in London were in industries where other openly gay people were employees.

When I took my next job, which would last 23-years, it took me six years to come out, and that was only when I heard the words “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” Of course, nobody cared that I was gay, yet for all those years I had been terrified what some of my work colleagues would think about me had I ‘come out’ of the closet.

Fast forward to today, and being gay is something much of society accepts. Or is it?

When we moved to our current home in South Wales, both my partner and I were a little hesitant that people would accept us. There are fewer people here than where we had lived for over 30 years. We were coming back to that place I’d been told that ‘being gay didn’t happen.’ We couldn’t have been more wrong!

People have been so welcoming, and we’re a part of the community as anyone else. Strange, though, that every now and again when I meet somebody for the first time and am asked who the other guy is that walks our dogs, I find myself hesitating before saying “he’s John, my partner.”

Maybe some of the scars from our past never heal?

Rainbow over Swansea
Swansea Bay. A 5-minute walk from our new home.

© 2017 Copyright-All rights reserved-hughsviewsandnews.com.

The Three Ladies In My Life

I have always been a lover of life. Yes, it’s thrown many wrong things at me and said: “here, deal with that!” But, my love affair with life has never ended or been anywhere near ending. I could just ‘like’ life but, no, I have always adored it and will carry on doing so until my’ sell-by date’ comes along.

The other day I was thinking about my life and reliving some memories. I tried to remember my first ever memories of life that included my mother. A few memories came to the forefront of my mind.

The memory I am sharing with you today is extraordinary because it includes three wonderful ladies who I will never forget. So, let me take you back to a day I can remember and tell you what it means to me.

I’m sitting on the floor in the huge living room of our house. In front of me is a big high dark wooden table and, on top of the table, I can just make out the brightly coloured yellow truck I had been given that day. The colour fascinated me and became my favourite colour until about twenty years ago when blue took over.

Sat at one end of the table, to my right, is the first of these ladies, my Grandmother, Nana Wallington. She looks down at me and smiles. She has thick black-rimmed spectacles, which make her eyes look huge. She’s wearing a green’ pork pie’ style hat, which has two red cherries stuck to the side and is dressed in a velvet green two-piece jacket and skirt.

Underneath the jacket, I can see a cream cardigan helping her keep warm. She wears some white pearls around her neck. Her lips are painted a bright red, and she has a pair of flat, black shoes and beige coloured stockings on. She’s quite a chubby lady and adores me because I am her first grandchild.

To my left is the kitchen. In there, I can see the back of the second of these extraordinary ladies, Mum. She’s busy peeling sprouts, and I wonder why she makes a little cross on the bottom of each sprout with the knife. I only know she is doing this because my Grandmother has told her to remember to ‘cross the sprouts’ at the base. 

I can see lots of steam coming off various pots boiling away on the stove, and the house is smelling of ‘roast dinner’. 

Mum is wearing a green flowery dress and a new pair of slippers, which are tartan green and have cream coloured fur inside them. She talks to my Grandmother about how long it will be before the men come back from the pub.

Behind me, I can hear a baby stir. It’s the third of these special ladies in my life, my baby sister, Jayne. I look behind me. Over in the corner sits a small, artificial Christmas tree lit up by colourful Victorian looking lanterns. I love looking at the bright red, green, blue, and yellow lights. The tree is on a small table to prevent me from getting my hands on the chocolates which hang from some of its branches. There are no gifts under the tree because they’ve all been opened, most of which are scattered across the living room floor.

Jayne starts to cry, and my Grandmother gets up and takes a peek inside the carry-cot while my mother continues to peel sprouts. Besides me, I notice a few selection boxes, one of which is opened. On the front of each selection box is a picture of Father Christmas in his sleigh, pulled by some reindeer over some snowy roofs and chimney pots of houses. 

Pictures of the various chocolate bars and sweets inside the box are displayed on the front of each box. To my Grandmother’s dismay, I’ve eaten most of the contents of the opened box. She tells mum that I won’t want to eat my Christmas dinner!

Upon the ceiling are pinned two colourful paper bells; one just above me and the other down the far end of the room. When taken down, unclipped, and closed up, they both look like the shape of a boot, the type my mother would wear when going out. When taking them down, my Father would always say how the form reminds him of a country called Italy and that one day he would like to take us all there for a holiday.

My Grandmother and Mum continue to talk while I play with the toys delivered the night before. Mum eventually comes into the room with two small glasses of sherry and hands one to my Grandmother. Even though I am just coming up to the age of five, I already know that these three special people will be the three most important ladies in my life.

The date is 25th December 1966.

***

In Memory Of Gwladys Elizabeth Hill, Who Sadly Passed Away On 15th September 2015

I’ll Never Ever Forget You, Mum.

Mum & Hugh

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