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Published On: Fri, Dec 16th, 2011


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-by Tim Hart-Woods

When I was around 14 my mum found my girlie mags. (why don’t we hide them better????? Our mums always tidy our bedrooms don’t they?!) I’d put them inside a crusty old book called ‘SILAS MARNER’ by George Eliot, who turned out to be a woman. How did I know it was one of my mum’s favorite books?  She began her maternal ‘protect my son from women ‘cos they’re all evil’ campaign by telling me I’d go blind.

(I should have known; momma will always find out where you’ve been…)

What?! Blinded by just looking at pics of chicks in nicks?!  How?! I was the eldest of seven so had no older siblings to ask, but an older lad at school told me he’d heard that masturbating did, in fact, cause blindness. Having said that he was also the guy who told me he’d found that calling his older sister a ‘war’ made her really angry. I couldn’t understand that and asked him to spell it. ‘’W-h-o-r-e.’’ Well, it would then. She was obviously smarter than him. Still, blindness…? Risky.

And my mum knowing I did it……OMG!

It didn’t stop me looking at my (now better hidden) mags. I used to get my Dad’s glasses when he wasn’t around and try to read newspapers through them to see if I could see the print more clearly. Ipso Facto; if I could, I was, in fact, going blind and would have to, at the very least bash the bishop less often. And of course the question as to why my dad needed glasses anyway lurked around the back of my mind like a dangerous drunk at the door of a party you’re desperately trying to leave….

Like the drunk, it remained unanswered.

My puberty coincided with 1966. The Beatles, California west coast rock, festivals, weed, Afghan coats, (before we knew they were made by The Taliban), hippies, and of course ‘free love’. Wow. Not only were all the girls suddenly sexually liberated, but I could still see them! Happy days. The best of times and the very best of times. My girlfriend, along with most of the other girls our age went on the pill and girlie mags went the way of all things in big families; to my younger brothers. They didn’t go blind either.

I read that sex was not only free, but also good for you!  How great could life get for a teenage boy? Thrice weekly was, apparently guaranteed to not only be the equivalent of a daily 45 minute gym session, but also reduce stress, improve concentration and elevate your social skills. It seemed that when you’re ‘doing it’ regularly, your fabulous body – in metabolic terms at least – increases your testosterone levels, leading to the endless over-production of pheromones which, amongst other things, are ‘sensed’ by girls who are then subconsciously attracted to you. The female attention bolsters your self-esteem, handing you the ultimate aphrodisiac; CONFIDENCE!

Result, more (free) sex and so on ad infinitum. Great.

(Thrice weekly??? I remember when it was thrice night……ah well, as Paul McCartney wrote and Mary Hopkins still occasionally reminds us on the ‘oldie record shows’; Those Were the Days. Indeed.)

Surely we must have been the healthiest and fittest generation ever to walk the planet? It was a good thing we had no world wars. Free love advocates would easily have become The Master Race. There’s a thought.

But sadly nothing lasts forever. It turned out VD wasn’t Vic Damone. Oh dear. Free love came with bolt-on (or should that be cling-on..?) benefits. Also free.

Chlamydia, genital warts, crabs, herpes, NSU, and that irritating songbird that never goes away. (How many of you have a tube of Monistat cunningly concealed in your cabinet?)

Visits to The ‘Special’ Clinic became as numerous as festivals, and nowhere near as enjoyable.

I’ll always fondly remember my first trip to the sinisterly denominated ‘Ward 12’ at my local hospital. And why did the nurse on reception have to shout the directions? 

‘’Another one for Ward 12! Follow the red line on the floor with all the other disgusting, degenerate and dirty people! – hang your head in shame as you go!’’

The grubby waiting room hadn’t changed since Glenda Jackson was incarcerated by Tchaikovsky for being crackers. Sitting gloomily alongside a disparate bunch of fellow infectees, totally avoiding eye contact for an hour gave me plenty of time for reflection. Was it worth it? Sure, the endless sex made me feel great, mentally and, I suppose physically, but the horrendous singeing Fire Down Below couldn’t be part of being healthy could it? I reasoned it could have been worse. The nurse, when my name was (loudly) called, was no one I knew, and it was a guy. Under any other circumstance that would have been an odd preference. I’ll leave you to wonder at the irony of somehow finding yourself in a situation where you prefer a guy to be touching your old man…

Free love had awkwardly developed a price tag, the bill paid in currency that was an odd mix of inconvenience, embarrassment and irritation of both kinds. Didn’t stop it going on though; after all, it was, like an apple a day and fresh veg, still good for you!

And some cream self-consciously applied in secret daily soon put the fire out.

It transpired that just  like the endless number of dull bands you have to sit through at the festivals before ‘The Dead’ or ‘The Stones’ come on, the afore listed venereal afflictions were only supporting acts too. The top of the bill, the ultimate, The Pink Floyd of the dark side of the sexual health debate was waiting for the audience to be right where it wanted.

Comfortably numb from a decade of relatively carefree promiscuity we were perfectly positioned for The Final Cut.


Me and my mates had no idea what it was. (did anyone for ten years? – came from monkeys in Africa…..?! Duh.. how dumb are we then?) But we knew it wasn’t anything that would bother us. We weren’t gay. We joked it was an acronym for ‘Arse Injected Death Sentence. Crude but strangely appropriate. My mum – funny how she keeps coming up – must have a word with my analyst about that – used to have these dieting ‘sweets’. They looked like fudge and even came wrapped in wax paper boxed pretty like proper candy. They tasted like catshit-flavoured polystyrene and sour milk. The idea was they would stop her wanting food. Well that worked, but they were called AYDS. Imagine being the marketing director of that company…

I think they changed the name. Funny though.

So the neo-Victorian, sixties, freedom and drug-fuelled age of enlightenment, with its health-improving limitless free love came to an abrupt, non-orgasmic, anti-climactic end.  Condoms replaced hippie headbands, everyone wanted a background check from everyone else before even snogging, and a doomy leaflet with a big grey headstone came with every prescription for the pill. Talk about reversal. What a turn off. The sexual equivalent of suddenly finding out that fries kill you. Depressing.

Move your sexual health counter back fifty spaces on the board.

But it wasn’t all bad news. If you married and your wife fell pregnant she’d get an AIDS test and you’d know one way or the other. Hurrah for monogamy. And staying that way.  Trouble was someone invented the idea that AIDS could hide away undetected in….well, I don’t like to think where….for years. So even if you were happily married, and you heard one of your wife’s exes had been a bit of a runaround…well, maybe he gave it to her and now… Kind of like wondering if it’s your beloved that’s really that ‘most dangerous’ serial killer that the news reports tell us is out there, somewhere living a perfectly normal life and is someone’s son, brother, mother or dad.

I was alright, thanks, jack. Happily married by now to a squeaky clean (tested) wife, a swift return to the endless and carefree supply of sex and the good health vibes that come with it was guaranteed. Funny how it doesn’t seem to work out like that…

Anyway, the world didn’t succumb to the 20th century plague and Aids somehow got treatable if not curable. Civilization didn’t crumble as predicted in ads funded by drugs companies wanting you to buy everything they made you think might help avoid you getting AIDS. We all stopped worrying about it and the human desire to have sex regardless remained firm and solid.

Unlike my own old feller.

Always a faithful and upright soldier, as I got older he became reluctant to follow orders and developed a bit of a slouch..

The massed labs of the pharmaceutical industry, who’d been sure all their birthdays had come at once when they invented AIDS, (quickly followed of course by their new wonder drug cure that would only cost you your house and savings to save your gay son’s life…unless you live in England where prescriptions are capped at $20…) suddenly switched their attention to getting their greedy hands on our money by other means. Secret surveys revealed that a few more of us ‘guys’ were at home when Mr. Flippy-Floppy came calling than the most of us would have you all believe. 

The West Indian guy in the joke, when his wife tells him to go to the docs to see what’s going wrong ‘down there’, and he comes back all dressed up black tie;

 ‘’What the heck’s gotten into you?’’

‘’Well honey, Doc says I’s impotent, I’s gotta look impotent!’’ 

So guys drive bigger trucks with bigger wheels, wear bigger cowboy hats, blow harder, carry bigger guns…metaphorically speaking…

When Pele stood in front of the Brazilian World Cup, (real football, not the one where you pick the ball up), Stadium and told us his own centre forward striker was no longer good in front of goal, and that surveys had reassured him not only was he not alone, but accompanied by one guy in three over fifty, it seemed ok for me to come out too. So that made two of us. Me and Pele thought Viagra was a great thing. Funny how the pair of us, even though he was the greatest soccer player of all time, could make up the most part of the client base of Pfizer, and between us spend $4 BILLION dollars a year on keeping our private affairs very straight indeed. Well, if I buy, say half a dozen every month, (one of the 100gm pills can get you at least two uplifting experiences…kind of like a BOGOF erection thing) and every guy I try to ‘out’ about it sticks his chin out,  goes into uber-machismo protection mode; ‘’ don’t need that stuff!!!’’,  Pele must be using millions!

Wow again.

Come on guys, keeping secrets is not good for your health! It promotes stress, which is an even bigger killer than AIDS! Viagra is the biggest selling drug on the planet so more than me and Pele are buying it!!! (And let me tell you this for free…girls can tell!)

Trouble is, even Viagra comes at a price slightly higher than its tag. Apparently it affects hearing.


Yep, masturbating makes you blind, Viagra makes you deaf. 

All that’s left is something sexual that somehow makes you dumb and we’re all Tommy.…

Maybe I’ll ask my wife if she can think of anything – perhaps faintly sexually related – that might stop her talking..? 

Right. Enough of that. Get the weigh scales out.  Sex, (with a few drugs and a little rock and roll), on the one side; health on the other.

Unless you’re a Percy Pervert it looks like a tie. A nice balance.

That’s the way God planned it, and he sure plays a mean Pinball.

Tim Hart-Woods is an English writer who recently came to live in South Florida with his American wife. He spent over 35 years in commerce and industry, 25 of those heading up his own companies in the UK and Spain. He has four children and many grandchildren and takes a keen interest in all health matters for all ages. He has developed and marketed his own lifestyle regime linking nutrition, diet and  psychological well-being. In addition to his work for this magazine, he also ‘ghost’ writes for a select number of clients. 




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