Miles Kington: Sex, shaving and the secrets of genealogists

'Don't worry about it,' said his wife, Glenda. 'All men have bits they don't shave very well.'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Three stories for mature people:

1. Frank and Dorothy had been married for 40 years. When they first fell in love, at university, Frank had asked Dorothy to come and stay during the vacation at his parents' house.

"They're a bit old-fashioned," he said, "so they'll expect us to sleep in separate rooms."

"That's a shame," said Dorothy, in a way that Frank found very exciting.

"But we'll be able to come to each other's room after they've gone to sleep," he said.

And so they did, though they made sure that whichever of the two had to travel during the night got back to their own room before Frank's parents were up.

"One day we will have our own bedroom and sleep in the same double bed all night long and not have to worry about anything," said Frank.

And so they did. For 40 years of marriage.

Until the day came at the age of sixty when they decided to sleep in separate rooms, in separate beds.

"We can always come to each other's room in the night if we want to," said Frank.

But they didn't.

2. All his life Jack had been aware that when he shaved, he was doing something wrong, because there was always a little patch under the bone of his jaw which remained rough after shaving.

He tried shaving downwards, he tried shaving upwards, he tried electrical, he tried Crabtree and Evelyn, but he could never quite get that elusive patch as smooth as the proverbial baby's bottom.

It was odd, because his cheeks were smooth and his chin was smooth, so he was doing something right there. So what was he doing wrong under his jawline?

"It's fine," said his wife, Glenda. "Don't worry about it. All men have bits they don't shave very well."

"How do you know?" said Jack, but she didn't say anything.

In his fifties Jack read somewhere that a posh hairdressers in London actually gave gentlemen lessons in how to shave, and somewhat to his own surprise he gave himself a late birthday present in the form of shaving lessons. He enjoyed it tremendously. The man at the salon taught Jack to see shaving, not as a duty and a chore, but as an art and pleasure. Now, every morning he looked forward to shaving where before he had feared it. Also, his neck was smooth for the first time ever.

"It's quite extraordinary how we are left to discover some of the basic techniques of life by trial and error," said Jack. "My father never told me how to shave. He assumed that shaving is something you can work out for yourself. So did I. I know better now. You can actually have shaving lessons without shame."

"I wonder if the same can be done for sex," said Glenda.

That was when Jack really started worrying.

3. Doreen discovered the joys of genealogy when her children had grown up and left home.

"It's almost as if, once she had brought up one family, she decided to adopt another," said her husband, Ted. "Only it's her own family history she has adopted."

To begin with, Doreen just went through old family letters and wrote to relations requesting details of forgotten ancestors. Then she started going through public records and visiting old churches.

"It gets her out of the house," said Ted. "It gives her an interest in life."

That was how she met Philip. Philip was a distant cousin who had recently been widowed and now was also researching the family history. They corresponded, they swapped secrets, then she went to meet him. Then they fell in love.

"Leave Ted," said Philip. "Marry me."

"I can't," said Doreen. "It would destroy Ted. Besides ... if you and I got married, it wouldn't half make a terrible mess of the family tree."

Philip thought of how far apart they were on the relationship network and of all the agonised redrawing which would be necessary to bring about "Philip m. (2) Doreen" on the chart.

"You're right," he said at last. "It's out of the question."