Madge Finds Out
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#1: Madge Finds Out Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:49 pm

I have Madge totally mixed up with Jose and friends as both drabbles are happening in the same timeline and written in one file, although I was posting it into 2 drabbles. So I'm reposting bit by bit. Madge has found out a bit more, so I'll post the new bit when I get there ...

This is sequel to Joey Bites the Bullet, set during Ruey.

The summer holidays were at an end, and the Maynards were back at Freudesheim, getting ready for the start of the school term the next day. The children were all tucked up in bed, and Joey and Jack were relaxing together on the big settee in the living room before they too turned in.

“It’s always a bit of a wrench saying goodbye to the older ones at the start of term, but it will be good to get back to our routine”, said Joey, sleepily.

“Mmmm,” replied Jack with a wicked smile, “and hopefully we’ll have more time for our new hobby?”

Joey snuggled closer. “Oh, yes please,” she said. “I can’t believe how much we’ve learnt together in the past few weeks, and how much fun it all is, but we have a way to go yet, don’t we?”

Their mutual sensual education was proving to be a pleasurable experience for both of them, and the little hardback book that Joey had received from Dr Schmidt invaluable in guiding them, although they still had several chapters to work through. Joey had quickly mastered the necessary vocabulary (in three languages, of course) and Jack, himself a virgin up until now, was also discovering a new dimension to his life.

“Jack?” said Joey.

“Yes Joey?”

“How is Jem getting on with telling Madge, do you know? I really do feel uncomfortable at the deception and the fact that she is missing out on …well… all this…!” She patted him, intimately.

“Yes, I know what you mean. I haven’t touched base with him recently. I’ll give him a tinkle tomorrow. In the meantime, you’ll keep it all to yourself, won’t you?”

“Of course, Jack. I haven’t mentioned a word to anyone, though I’ve been sorely tempted several times. But I’m sure Madge would have said something to me if Jem had explained it all to her.”

“Well done, Joey, just keep it close to your chest for a while longer, please.”

“Ah well,” she mused “it was a lovely holiday, if a little more eventful that it needed to be. Poor Chas. I’ll feel happier when I know he’s back on his feet.”

In fact her only major regret was that with all the visitors and events at the end of the holiday, including Charles’s appendicitis, she had not found the time to pay that visit to Michel. She had high hopes, though, of finding a hairdresser in Interlaken in whom she could develop the same level of trust, and she resolved to get a day to herself some time soon to take herself down there to see what could be done.

Last edited by Cryst on Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:59 pm; edited 7 times in total


#2:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:56 pm

Madge was sitting at the little window seat, turned sideways so that she could stare out of the window, watching the incessant drizzle partly obscuring the late summer Armishire hillside. She was weeping silently, seemingly oblivious to the gentle stream of tears flowing down her cheeks.

Jem came up behind her silently. He had been trying for a couple of weeks now to find the right time to have that little chat with her to explain the facts of life according to Drs Maynard and Russell, but there had always been children or domestic staff around. With the youngest children now back at school he thought he’d catch his moment. He sat down opposite her, and noticed the tears.

“Hey there, old darling, what’s the matter?”


“But you’re crying, there must be something wrong?” he replied, offering his handkerchief.

“Nothing wrong,” she ignored the gesture.

“Are you unhappy? What are you crying about?”

“About? …. About? ….” she repeated the word with an uncomprehending look at Jem. “There isn’t an ‘about’, Jem. There just isn’t. There doesn’t have to be.”

She got up and walked out.

“Hmmm” said Jem to himself. “How peculiar. Complicated creatures, women. Maybe this isn’t a very good time to bring up the turkey baster business. I’ll have to try again later.”


To: Cryst
Subject: Madge Finds Out

Dear Cryst,

I would be most obliged if you would pass the following information to your friends on the CBB Forum.

There is absolutely no reason for me to be unhappy. I have a lovely home, husband and children. I am a Lady. I have servants who are kind and efficient. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me. I have a round of business, social, and charity engagements and responsibilities to provide me with mental stimulation and social intercourse.

So I would be most obliged if you would request that they stop asking why I am upset. THERE IS NOTHING THE MATTER. NOTHING AT ALL. I AM FINE. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Yours sincerely,
Madge Russell (Lady)

P.S. What exactly is it that I am going to find out?


#3:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:58 pm

Madge was sitting on the settee with a book on her knee, staring at it but not really reading, with a troubled look on her face. Jem, walking past the door on his way to work, saw her and decided this might be the moment for him to try again. He sat down beside her and put his arm round her shoulders. In so doing, his hand brushed lightly against her breast. She flinched and gave a sharp little squeal of pain. “Ouch! What do you want Jem? Can’t you see I’m reading?”

“Oh, sorry darling, er, I was wanting to talk to you about, er, something, but, er, well, never mind, tonight will do just as well.”

Madge put her book down with a sigh of irritation. “Oh COME ON, Jem, if you have something to say, for heaven’s sake get it over and done with. What is it?”

“Erm, well, er, oh, um, I was just er wondering if we had anything planned for the weekend?”

“I have no idea. I don’t seem to be able to remember things any more. I’ll have to look at the calendar.” Madge got up to walk across the room to her bureau, above which their calendar, with charming pictures of English country gardens, hung. As she stood up, Jem noticed a red stain on the back of the skirt of her otherwise immaculate, pale pink, linen suit. He pointed it out to her. “Have you managed to sit down on some strawberries or something, my dear?”

“Oh blast! Not again. Dear God. I can’t stand much more of this.” Marge burst into tears and ran out of the room.


#4:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:01 pm

“Oh, but Jem old chap, you must tell Madge. Joey is dying to share it all with her, and it really only is a matter of time before she lets the cat out of the bag. She’s so excited by the whole marital relations thing. She really has taken to it like a duck to water. I can’t tell you how much difference it has made to our lives. Damn it all, man, you owe it to yourselves. You are missing out, you really are. Madge will find out. Sometime, somehow. And much better that it comes from you at a time of your own choosing.”

“But Jack, I’ve tried, I really have. I keep finding ways to bring the subject up but it goes wrong every time. In your cases the circumstances conspired against you, and you were left in a situation where you had no choice but to explain. Joey’s suspicions were already aroused. You had a natural lead into the subject. I have nothing. Have you got any suggestions? I’m at my wits end.”

“Well, let me see. You could maybe ask her if the honeymoon lived up to her expectations? If she’d ever considered that there could be more to a relationship between a man and a woman? You could leave some explanatory literature lying around, maybe? Or perhaps try making advances to her one night, so that you … er … sort of show her, rather than telling her? Take her out to dinner and get her squiffy first, or put a small dose in her milk? I don’t know, but I’m sure you’ll find a way, you have to. Just keep trying.”

“Thank you Jack, I’ll let you know when I’ve made some progress.”

“Good luck.”


That evening Madge and Jem had finished their dinner, and they were relaxing in the sitting room, sharing a tray of coffee.

Jem had been mentally rehearsing his next move all day long. He braced himself, and then seized his moment.

“Darling, do you remember our wedding night? Tell me, was it what you had expected?” he asked gently.

“What a strange question. Well, no, not really. I don’t think it was, quite,” replied Madge, struggling hard to remember. “Let me see, there was something … Oh yes, I remember now. I didn’t know just what to expect. It was the most extraordinary thing. The night before the wedding Therese sat me down and we had the most peculiar conversation. She asked if I knew what would happen on the honeymoon, and how babies were made. I explained that babies, of course, were made when a man and a woman lay down beside one another in bed, under the bedclothes. Then she came up with the most ridiculous thing you have heard in all your life. It made very little sense. Something about you having a direction and me being infiltrated. She told me that I shouldn’t worry, I had to lay still and relax, and in time I might come to enjoy it. It all sounded ludicrous - very far fetched and faintly repulsive, and I didn’t believe a word of it – after all, what could she possibly know about it. I was most relieved to find out that she had been spinning me some old wives’ tale, and I was glad to be able to tell her just that after we returned from our honeymoon.”

Jem could see a light shining at the end of the tunnel. Here was his lead. He was determined not to blow the opportunity and gave himself a moment to choose his next words very, very carefully.

Just then a long, low, rippling, rumbling noise was heard from the direction of Madge’s nether regions. His medical training enabled Jem to correctly identify the source in short order, but even his long years of hospital experience did not prepare him for the extraordinarily putrid stench that assaulted his nostrils shortly afterwards. Madge blushed bright red, and said “Please excuse me. I keep doing that. I don’t … sniff … know … sniff… why.” And with that she burst into tears and ran out of the room.

Jem shook his head, poured himself another cup of coffee, lit his pipe, picked up The Times and immersed himself in the crossword.


To: Cryst
Subject: Les Relations de Marriage

Chere Cryst,

Please to remind your CBB amies zat I am Fronch. We do not find it necessaire to be coy about Le Sex as ze English do. Maman instructed me in all zis when I had but 5 years. Also, I was engagée for several years to Pierre. Maman reminded me of my wifely duties ze night before la marriage, mais Pierre did not arrivé at l’eglise. I cried much. It was zen zat I ‘ad to come to work for Madame.

With best wishes,
Therese La Pâttre


#5:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:04 pm

To: Tara
Subject: RE: Les Relations de Marriage

Chere Tara,

> Poor Therese, all that knowledge wasted!

Now leeson vairy carefully, I shall say zis urnly wunce.

Did I say zat ze knowledge was wastéd?

I did nutt.
And eet wuz nutt.

Therese Lepattre


#6:  Author: LottieLocation: Humphrey's Corner PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:12 pm

It's good to see this back again, Cryst. I hope we don't have to wait too long for the next bit.


#7:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:13 pm

Having finished the crossword (all, that is, except 7 down, which to his great irritation had defeated him) Jem had given his knotty problem some more thought. He was not inclined to raise the subject of Madge’s honeymoon expectations again. He had turned the matter round in his head, but couldn’t think of a tactful way to bring the subject up again without it seeming forced. No, he would go with another of Jack’s suggestions and, encouraged by Jack’s description of Joey’s reactions to her initiation into the joys of sex, he would attempt to woo Madge in bed that night.

He took great care over his nightly ablutions, having an extra shave, and then dousing himself liberally with the contents of the bottle of “Old Spice” that Sybil had bought him for Christmas. He also washed his feet, dried them carefully on a soft towel, and clipped the hairs in his ears and nostrils.

By the time he reached their bedroom, Madge was already asleep. He lay beside her for a while, contemplating waking her up and trying to decide where, and how, to touch her first. But it had been a busy day. He was tired. He yawned. Perhaps he would just snatch forty winks and then try again later in the night. He turned over and went to sleep.

He was normally a very sound sleeper, but he awoke a few hours later with a sudden start. He checked the alarm clock on his bedside table. It was a quarter past three. He remembered his plan of earlier in the evening, braced himself and decided to give it a try. He rather fancied that he would start by rubbing her back gently. Yes, that should do it. He reached out, and then reached further. What the ….? Madge was not there. And the bedclothes were wringing wet. Absolutely sodden. What on earth was going on?

It was then that he heard the shower running in the bathroom next door. “What?” he thought. “She’s having a shower? At three o clock in the morning?”

This was just too much for Jem to comprehend. He curled over into his own side of the bed and went back to sleep.


Breakfast in the Russell household was a most civilised affair. When the children were all away, as at present, Sir James and Lady Russell usually took it informally in the conservatory, sharing a light cooked dish, such as today’s scrambled eggs, with hot buttered toast, jams and milky coffee. Jem always read his copy of The Times, checking off any crossword clues he had missed the previous day, and reading snippets of news to his wife.

Today, though, he had something on his mind. Having solved the mystery of 7 down, he engaged his wife in conversation.

“I thought I might pop into town this morning on my way to work. There are a few things I need to get … er… for work, you know. What have you got planned for today, dear?”

Madge opened her mouth to answer, but was astonished to find herself unable to! “Gracious, Jem, I’ve forgotten. What day of the week is it?”

“Tuesday, sweetheart.”

“Oh yes, of course it is. Silly me. Nothing this morning, but we have a WI meeting this afternoon. It might go on a while. Mrs Allicott will be showing slides of her latest visit to the Holy Land, and I think they are planning tea and cakes at the end. I should be home by 5:30 though.”

“Do you fancy going out to dinner tonight then, darling? I could book us a table at that nice quiet little restaurant by the river?”

“Oh that would be lovely, Jem, but Mrs Honeydrew’s rock cakes always seem to fill one up more than one expects – could we make it tomorrow night instead, do you think?”

“Yes, that would be just as good. I’ll get the table booked. I’ll see you later then, Madge.”

“Yes, goodbye Jem.”

He got into the car and headed off towards Armiford**. He had been giving Jack’s suggestions serious consideration, and was planning to purchase various items of reading material to leave around the house to try to progress the matter of Madge’s sexual education.

He managed to secure most of the items he was after in Smiths, and one or two more besides. His basket produced a raised eyebrow at the checkout, but he was pleased enough with himself not to notice. It just took a short visit to a nearby second hand bookshop to complete the little library. “Now, all I have to do,” he thought “is slip home this afternoon and leave these in strategic positions around the house for Madge to find. We should have this whole thing cracked in no time at all. And failing that, there is the backup plan of getting her squiffy at dinner tomorrow night.”

With the satisfaction of a job well done, Jem turned the car towards the Sanatorium.


With Jem safely out of the way, Madge settled herself down by the telephone in the salon, with the door shut. She hoped she would not be disturbed - the staff were normally very good when they saw she was on the phone and steered clear until she had finished. She got out her little red leather-bound address book and leafed through to the “M” pages. She had been dying to discuss her latest batch of health problems with someone, and there were very few people with whom she felt she could broach the subject. It was going to mean a trunk call to Switzerland, but she thought the expense would be justified on this occasion.

“Hello Joey, darling, it’s me, Madge, have you got time to talk?”

“Madge! How lovely to hear from you. This is a rare treat. Yes, absolutely, I was just settling down to write a chapter or two of the latest masterpiece – all the infants are being taken care of. How are things?”

“Well, everyone’s fine, but there’s something rather personal that I wanted to discuss with you. Let’s have all your news first, though. How are things at the school? Have the new teachers arrived? Any new girls? How’s Josette doing as Head Girl – I haven’t heard from her yet, and I was a bit worried that she’d find Mary Lou rather a hard act to follow.”

“Fine as far as I know, Madge. It’s only the second day of term after all, but no howls as yet. They are interviewing for the Italian teacher next week, but Seńor Romero has already arrived in his little red sports car. He is an utter pet. The girls will adore him. In fact, I’m rather smitten myself. But what did you want to talk to me about? Has Jem told you?”

“Told me? Told me what?”

Joey cursed herself silently. She had been so determined to keep her promise to Jack that she would not breathe a word to Madge of his and Jem’s shameful deception. Thinking quickly she improvised, “Oh don’t say I said anything, Madge, I think he may be planning a little surprise for you.”

“What sort of surprise?”

“No, please don’t press me, Madge or it won’t be a surprise, will it? Please tell me what it was you wanted to discuss.”

“Well, I’m a bit worried about my health, Joey. Oh, nothing horrible, just some rather embarrassing symptoms. I feel tired and irritable all the time, and keep on having the most dreadful dreams and waking up drenched in sweat. And, well, burping, and things. Going all hot in shops and feeling faint. And my hair is falling out. My fingernails are all breaking.”

“Oh Madge, poor you. Have you tried discussing it with Jem?”

“Well no, not really, he doesn’t seem to have noticed, and it seems rather self-absorbed to bring it up. Anyway he has seemed rather distracted himself the past few weeks, as if there might be something on his mind.”

“Well maybe you should try? Or could you visit your doctor maybe?”

“Well, I’m not really ill, am I? And all the doctors around here are very great chums, you know, and Jem would be most dreadfully upset if I’d not discussed it with him first, so I’m rather stuck really.”

“I wonder if you’re going through the … er … menstruate? You know, when your periods stop. They say women get all sorts of mood swings and so on at that time in their lives.”

“Well I thought of that, Joey. But my periods aren’t stopping. On the contrary, they seem to be more frequent than ever. Sometimes there’s hardly a few days between one finishing and the next one starting. It’s really most unpleasant. I think you mean the ‘menopause’, by the way, not ‘menstruate’.”

“Oh yes, you’re right. I always get them mixed up. It’s because they both start with men. Well I suppose you’d just better hang on in there, old thing, and see if you can’t find the right moment to ask Jem’s advice. Unless there is a confidential phone line or something you could use to get advice anonymously? Some sort of charity thing, maybe?”

“That’s a thought Joey. I’ll have a scout around to see if there is such a thing. Otherwise I’ll just have to choose the right moment to bring the subject up with Jem. He’s taking me out to dinner tomorrow night – maybe the atmosphere will be right after that.”

“Take care of yourself, Madge. I can’t have my big sister unhappy. Hope you feel better soon. Give my love to everyone.”

“And mine Joey to everyone your end, Joey. Hug the girls for me when you see them.”

She put the phone down thoughtfully. It had been good to share the problem with Joey, and at least now she had a couple of ideas about how to get some help.


Subject: Is it the menopause?

Dear nhsdirect,

I am a 48-year old woman, and although not hugely unwell, I have not been feeling myself for several months now. Please could you tell me what symptoms would indicate that I am entering the menopause?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,
Hilda Wilson


Subject: Re: Is it the menopause?

Dear Lady Russell,

Cessation of masturbation is not, in itself, indicative of the onset of the menopause.

Please let us know if we can assist further.

Best wishes,
Caroline (SRN)
Call Centre Operative
NHS Direct


Subject: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

For the attention of Caroline (SRN)

Dear Caroline,

Thank you for your reply, but I am afraid I did not understand it. Please give me a list of the symptoms of the menopause.

Many thanks,
Madge Russell (Lady)

P.S. How do you know my name? I deliberately used a nom de plume as I am anxious for this exchange to be completely confidential.


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

Dear Lady Russell,

I can assure you that our service is completely confidential at all times. I obtained your real name from your email address. If you wish to use a nom de plume that is up to you but I suggest that you use a false email address also.

Please forgive me for misunderstanding the question in your initial email.

The symptoms of the menopause are as follows:

1. Hot flushes
2. Night sweats
3. Cold flushes, clammy feeling
4. Irregular heart beat
5. Irritability
6. Mood swings, sudden tears
7. Trouble sleeping through the night
8. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
9. Loss of libido
10. Dry vagina
11. Crashing fatigue
12. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
13. Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
14. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
15. Disturbing memory lapses
16. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence
17. Itchy, crawly skin
18. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
19. Increased tension in muscles
20. Breast tenderness
21. Headaches
22. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
23. Sudden bouts of bloat
24. Depression
25. Exacerbation of existing conditions
26. Increase in allergies
27. Weight gain
28. Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body
29. Increase in facial hair
30. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
31. Changes in body odour
32. Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
33. Tingling in the extremities
34. Gum problems, increased bleeding
35. Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odour
36. Osteoporosis
37. Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
38. Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, “whooshing,” buzzing etc.

Do please let me know if I can provide any further reassurance.

Best wishes,
Caroline (SRN)
Call Centre Operative
NHS Direct


Madge printed out the two emails from Caroline and sat gazing at the pieces of paper.

“What’s this – ‘further reassurance’? I don’t feel reassured at all,” she snarled. “Let’s see then. There are 3 words that I just don’t understand.” She took her pink marker pen and highlighted “masturbation”, “libido” and “vagina”. “I’ll have to ask someone about those. Of the symptoms listed, I have definitely experienced numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 22, 24, 28 and 37.” She crossed off the numbers on her list. “That’s 13 out of 38 of them. I’ll have to watch out for the other symptoms. But I’ve no idea if 13/38 means I’m experiencing the menopause or not. Ah well, no time to think about it any more now. I’m due at the WI in half an hour and I’d better get moving.”

She folded up the sheets of paper and slipped them into her handbag. Although she was not much further forward, the limited success of her initial research meant that she felt as though she was slightly more in control of the situation, and it was with a small feeling of satisfaction that she set out for her afternoon engagement.


#8:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:19 pm

Madge had to walk briskly to get to the Village Hall on time. The Women’s Institute meeting was just starting, with the formidable Chairwoman, Mrs Higginson, introducing the speaker as Madge slipped in at the back and quietly took her seat. Mrs Allicott was an elderly but sprightly widow of independent means, much given to taking foreign coach tours involving a good deal of sightseeing. With everything else that was on her mind Madge found it rather difficult to concentrate on the rather pedestrian delivery, and the slides themselves would have benefited from greater expertise in photography, showing as they did an endless series of near identical views of arid landscapes and dingy buildings. So Madge whiled away the time by mulling over the emails she had received from NHS Direct, managing by a supreme effort of will to resist the temptation to open her handbag to bring them out to study again. She decided that if she had a chance over tea she would see if she could catch a quick word with Helena Featherstone. Helena was now in her sixties, but Madge had an idea that she had been a nurse before she married.

After about an hour and a half Mrs Allicott finally finished her slides and ran out of things to say. She sat down to polite applause. Several of her audience had been sufficiently alert to formulate some questions to ask at the end, so a further 15 minutes was spent on this. Then the Chairwoman drew the proceedings to a close and directed the members to the tables at the back of the hall where tea and cake were to be served. The women mingled, chatting and exchanging news, glad to be standing up after such a long time on the hard seats.

At these gatherings Madge was usually surrounded by a little ring of women. There were those who appreciated her lively conversation, plus, alas, several who hovered around her because they were impressed by her title. The members had tended to fall into two camps since the elections for Chairwoman the previous year, when Mrs Higginson had managed to secure a small majority as a result of some rather questionable canvassing, with Madge coming in a very close second and therefore taking the office of Vice-Chairwoman. Thus there were two main congregations of chatting women in the Hall, and Madge found Helena was in her own group. She managed to manoeuvre her to the edge of the circle and while the rest were discussing Mrs Higginson’s son’s new fiancée, Madge steered the conversation between the two of them onto the subject of their respective former careers.

“That’s right Helena, I taught for several years at my school in Austria before Sir James and I were married. I understand you used to be a nurse?”

“Yes Madge, I worked at the Armiford General for about 5 years before I married. It was during the Great War, you know, and I was fortunate in a way, as nursing had become a respectable occupation for young women because of the war. Otherwise I would have been stuck at home with Mama until the family managed to marry me off. I found the nursing very satisfying, although of course there were some dreadful sights. Young men with their legs shot off, and shell shocked. The stench of gangrene. Dreadful head injuries. The experiences will be with me for as long as I live.”

“Yes, Helena, it must have been very interesting. You would have acquired a wide vocabulary of medical terms. Tell me, did you come across ‘masturbation’ at all?”

Helena Featherstone gave Madge a peculiar look, as she tried to work out if she had heard her correctly. She weighed up the situation and decided to play it with a straight bat. “Oh well of course, dear, with all those young men laid up for months on end - one knew it went on, but we didn’t talk of it,” adding, rather pointedly, “one doesn’t, does one?” She quickly and skilfully changed the subject. “And how are those charming girls of yours now, Madge? Sybil was always such a beauty.”


Madge, none the wiser, allowed herself to be steered away onto safer ground. In time the circle of women moved round and she found herself chatting with Mrs Honeydrew. She complimented her on her rock cakes and this led their conversation around to cookery. Mrs Honeydrew was describing an unusual recipe that had been sent to her by a cousin in America, which included several ingredients and instructions she was unfamiliar with. “So you see, Madge,” she laughed “once I had worked out what a skillet was, and just how one goes about broiling a steak, I was able to finish cooking the meal!” Madge laughed politely and, seeing another opportunity, said “Yes, it is strange when you come across new words, isn’t it? I read one the other day which I haven’t yet managed to find out the meaning of. You don’t happen to have any idea do you, what a “libido” is?

“Well, no. I don’t think I’ve ever come across it in a recipe, anyway. Though it does ring a vague bell.” replied Mrs Honeydrew. She turned to the main group and trumpeted “I say, does anyone know what a ‘libido’ is? Madge came across it in a recipe the other day.” One or two of the women evidently did have an idea what the word meant and looked a little embarrassed, but said nothing. There were several suggestions, including the words in an opera, an open air swimming pool, a board game, and an African river, but eventually the group decided between them that it was an exotic fruit. Given the context, Madge was sure this couldn’t be quite right, but decided not to argue the point. In fact she was rather relieved when the assembled women began to discuss other exotic fruits and how to prepare them for inclusion in a fruit salad.

Some minutes later she managed to slip away to the Ladies, and was inspecting her upper lip and chin in the mirror, to her horror finding that she had sprouted several unsightly bristles, when Mrs Higginson came in. As the two women left they exchanged pleasantries and started discussing the plans for restoration of a local historical site. It was almost against her own better judgement that Madge decided to try again, but some instinct for self destruction spurred her on.


Madge could find no easy way to link the conversation about the historical site with the matter she wanted to talk about, so she decided for an abrupt change of subject, and blurted out, “I wonder if you give me some advice, woman to woman, Mrs Higginson? Tell me, do you have trouble with dry vagina?”

“Dreifer? Oh no dear, mine is nearly all Crown Derby,” replied Mrs Higginson, “My mother always advised me to buy the best I could afford when it came to clothes and china. It pays in the end you know. What sort of trouble are you having with your Dreifer? Cracking and chipping? That sort of thing? Only to be expected with the cheaper brands. I’ve only lorst a couple of pieces out of my whole dinner service and I’ve had it for nigh on 35 years. And that was due to a rather clumsy housemaid - we soon got rid of her, I can assure you.”

Mrs Higginson was a tall, solidly built woman, rather well-to-do, and from a sound old country family. She was used to being heard, and listened to, so the assembled women all turned towards her as she entered the hall. “I say,” she bugled, “does anyone else have Dreifer china? Madge is having terrible trouble with hers - cracking and chipping, that sort of thing, and she was looking for some advice.”

An unnatural hush descended. Some of the women looked bewildered, but most turned away in embarrassment. One or two started clearing up the tea things, muttering to each other. The tea party was most definitely over.

As they left, Helena and a couple of the other women caught up with Madge. One of them said comfortingly, “That remark of Mrs Higginson’s really was out of order, Lady Russell. Who would have thought she could be so crass. I do hope you will be standing for Chairwoman again next year – she certainly won’t be getting my vote again.” “Nor mine!” agreed one of the others, giving Madge’s arm a sympathetic little squeeze as she walked past. Helena and Madge walked to the gate together. As they parted to go in their opposite directions, Helena turned to Madge and whispered in her ear “Try KY jelly, dear. Keren is a good friend of mine – she knows about these things, and she absolutely swears by it.”

Madge walked home slowly. It had been a stressful afternoon, and apart from now being able to add number 29 to the list of menopausal symptoms she was experiencing, she was absolutely no further forward.


Meanwhile, as he steered the little black car back through the great gates of the Sanatorium, Jem was feeling more than a little pleased with himself. The clandestine trip home had gone better than he had dared to hope. None of the domestic staff had been around, and he hadn’t bumped into any of the neighbours. As far as he could tell he had pulled the whole thing off without anyone being any the wiser, and carefully distributed his reading matter around the house where Madge could not fail to come across it. He had made his getaway before she had returned from the WI. Perfect. Now all he had to do was sit back and await results. She would be sure to bring up the subject some time, and was bound to ask him the very questions that would allow him to explain everything in a most natural fashion. They would then be all set to start their relationship anew, just as Jack and Joey were. A passing nurse was slightly alarmed to see him give a little skip of joy as he walked back into the building. He was singing softly under his breath… “By the light … of the silvery moon ….”


After half an hour sitting down quietly with a cup of tea, Madge felt her spirits recover from the stress of the WI meeting, and her resourcefulness started to return. She was determined to discover more about the menopause, and had a sudden brainwave as to how to deal with those mysterious words. A dictionary! Why had she not thought of it before? She made her way to her bureau, and was about to reach up to her little bookshelf for her Chambers, when she noticed a little green hardback book in the middle of her writing surface. “The Married Woman’s Handbook”, she read “Why, that’s one of my recipe books – what on earth is it doing here? Maybe I got it out to check on something? I don’t remember doing so, but then I do keep forgetting things these days. Just another instance of symptom number 15, I suppose.” She sighed, and took the book into the kitchen, adding it to the end of the shelf of recipe and household management books.

Returning to her bureau she pulled down her dictionary and set to work.

vagina, n. a sheath: a sheathing leaf-base: a female genital passage: – pl. vaginae, -nas.

“Well I’m none the wiser,” she thought, “apart from being able to form its plural in two different ways.” She added “genital” to her list of mystery words.

masturbation, n. stimulation, usually by oneself, of the sexual organs by manipulation etc., so as to produce orgasm.

Increasingly perplexed, Madge wrote down “sexual organs”, “orgasm”.

libido, n. vital urge, either in general or as of sexual origin: sexual impulse

Still unenlightened, Madge hunted down the new words.

genital, adj. belonging to generation or the act of producing

adj. sexual, of, by, having characteristic of, sex, one sex or another, or organs of sex

orgasm, n. immoderate excitement: culmination of sexual excitement: turgescence of any organ (obs)

Madge sat back and reviewed her findings. “Well, I know what ‘sex’ is, of course – the quality of being male or female. ‘Sexual organs’ seem to be parts of the body to do with being male or female. But I’m not still at all sure how this all fits together, or where excitement comes into it.”

She put her list carefully back into her handbag, having come to the conclusion that she would have to ask someone. But who?


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

For the attention of Caroline (SRN)

Dear Caroline,

Thank you for the list of symptoms of the menopause. I am experiencing 14 of the 38 symptoms. Does this mean that I am undergoing the menopause?

Please could you explain the terms “libido” and “vagina”, as I am unfamiliar with these and am thus unable to judge whether or not I am experiencing numbers 9 and 10.

With best wishes,
Madge Russell (Lady)


David had scrimped and saved to buy himself a little car, and today he had finally taken delivery. It was a very modest affair, a little Ford Anglia, several years old with quite a few miles on the clock, but he’d had it thoroughly checked over by a mechanic friend who was convinced it was sound. He now had a couple of days off between rotations at the hospital, and he decided to pay his parents a surprise visit. The break would do him good and it would be a long enough drive to try out the car properly. As soon as he finished at the hospital he went back to his digs and quickly packed an overnight case, then jumped into the car and started her up.


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

Dear Lady Russell,

It sounds quite probably that you are indeed experiencing the menopause.

Numbers 9 and 10 refer to a reduced desire to have sexual intercourse and increased difficulty or discomfort in doing so. “Vagina” is the correct term for that part of the female anatomy variously known as “front bottom”, “birth canal”, “between your legs”, “downstairs” or “down there”. There are also less pleasant names for it, but you don’t need to learn them at this time in your life.

NHSdirect advice is offered in good faith but is not designed to replace your normal health services. If symptoms persist, you are advised to consult your GP.

Best wishes,
Caroline (SRN)
Call Centre Operative
NHS Direct


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

For the attention of Caroline (SRN)

Dear Caroline,

Thank you for your latest reply. Please could you explain the term “sexual intercourse”?

Yours in some confusion,
Madge Russell (Lady)


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it the menopause?

Dear Lady Russell,

It would probably be easiest at this stage if you could send me your postal address, and I’ll pop a copy into the post of the booklet that we send out to teenagers who are first coming across these issues. I think that will answer most of your questions about terminology. I’ll also send you a copy of our booklet “Coping with the menopause” which may be some help. But I must stress the importance of speaking to your doctor about this. The booklets will be sent in a plain envelope addressed “private and confidential”, so hopefully will cause no embarrassment at your end.

Please let us know if we can assist further.

Best wishes,
Caroline (SRN)
Call Centre Operative
NHS Direct


With some misgivings, Madge replied to Caroline giving her address, and then sat quietly trying to make some sense of the information she had gleaned so far. The more she puzzled, the more resolved she became to ask Jem about her menopausal symptoms. She had never had a GP as such - with Jem always on hand to attend to any medical matters in the family it had never been necessary.

Jem meanwhile, was driving home, convinced that Madge would have discovered some of the various books and magazines he had distributed around the house, and that she would raise some of the issues he wanted to discuss.

David was approaching home also, the little car running smoothly. He was looking forward to surprising his parents and having a peaceful couple of days at home before resuming his somewhat gruelling medical training.


By the time Jem arrived, Madge had prepared afternoon tea in the salon and as he came in she asked him to join her. After pouring their tea, she plucked up her courage, and took the bull by the horns.

“Jem, there is a delicate matter I would like to ask you about.”

“Aha”, though Jem triumphantly. “Just as I planned. She has found some of the books. She will ask a suitable leading question about our sexual relations, and I can finally get all this secrecy out of the way.” He assumed his best “listening doctor” manner, honed to perfection over a number of years, patted her on the knee and said patronisingly “Go on old dear, tell me what’s on your mind.”

Madge took a deep breath, blushed furiously, but still managed to phrase her question clearly and succinctly. “Jem, I think I may be experiencing the menopause. I’m having some dreadfully difficult symptoms to cope with and I feel that I need some medical assistance.”

In his defence it has to be said that Jem was taken completely by surprise, and deeply disappointed. He had been trying for several weeks to steer their conversation around to a particular topic, and just as he thought he’d got there, Madge had come in with a completely different question.

“Oh, quite probably Madge,” he replied carelessly. “You’re that sort of age, after all, so you’ll just have to grin and bear it. It might help if you took more exercise, cut down the salt in your diet and tried to eat more fruit and vegetables. Drink less alcohol, don’t eat chocolate, and keep off the coffee and tea. Try not to make too much of a fuss about it – after all, all women go through it, you know. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.”

With that, he picked up his copy of “The Times” and his pen, excused himself, and headed off towards the downstairs toilet.

Madge was devastated. Jem had been no help at all. He had not even shown her a glimmer of sympathy. Desperation set in. She started to cry, and as she did so felt the familiar start of a hot flush creeping inexorably upwards through her body. She picked up a magazine from the coffee table nearby and started fanning herself.

And so it was that when David came into the salon with a cheery “Hello everyone, surprise, surprise!” his father was nowhere to be seen and he discovered his mother in the salon. Normally so poised, elegant and capable, on this occasion she was flushed bright red, tears were streaming down her face, and she was wildly brandishing in the air the latest issue of “Playboy”.


#9:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:21 pm

“Mother, whatever is the matter?” he rushed across the room and sat down on the sofa beside her, putting his arm around her shoulder.

Madge was by now sobbing heavily, and had trouble getting the words out. “Oh David … sob … I think I’m going though the… sob… menopause … sniff…. and it’s awful. Your father is being a beast … gulp… and I … sniff … don’t know what ‘sexual intercourse’ is.”

He gave her a little squeeze and said “Come on, it can’t be that bad. Let’s take the problems one at a time and tell me a bit more.” He plucked the “Playboy” from her hand and put it back down on the pile of magazines, stopping momentarily to wonder what it was doing there, and why the next item on top of the pile was an Ann Summers catalogue. “Now, tell me about the menopause first of all. We haven’t done it at the hospital yet – we seem to be concentrating on setting broken legs at the moment, but I have read a bit about it.” He talked on, to give her a chance to compose herself, keeping his voice light and chatty. “Are you getting hot flushes, and night sweats?”

“Oh yes, David, it’s awful. Some nights I’m drenched with sweat.”

“And how about your … er …”, he paused, suddenly embarrassed to be talking of such matters with his mother, “monthly periods?” he continued, aware how important it must be to her that she should be able to discuss this freely now that she had broached the subject. “Have they become irregular?”

“Well yes, they come and go all the time. I never know what to expect next. If I’d thought about it at all, I imagined they would just get lighter, and less frequent, and then stop.” Madge warned to her theme, relieved at last to be able to get some of this off her chest. “But they are more frequent, and often very heavy. I’m worried there is something wrong with me.”

“Well, I think that can happen during the menopause. It all goes erratic before it settles down again. You’ll be feeling up and down with it? Bursting into tears and getting irritable, that sort of thing?”

“Yes, David, that’s exactly it. Do you think that’s what it is? If so, what can I do about it? I can’t stand much more of it.”

“Well it sounds like the menopause to me. There are some doctors specialising in this field these days, and although there are no miracle cures, I’m sure I’ve read that there are treatments that help with the symptoms. I’ll do some phoning round for you tomorrow, and we’ll see if we can get you booked in to see someone. Ok?”

Madge nodded, almost overwhelmed with relief. As much as anything else, she drew strength from the acknowledgement that what she was experiencing was difficult for her to deal with.

“Now, there we are then,” said David, “that’s one of the problems on the way to being sorted out already. What were the other things again?”


David continued. “Did you say that Father’s being a bit of a beast? Do you want to tell me about it, or is it too private? Where is he, anyway?”

“Oh, he’s taken the crossword to the toilet. He’ll be a while yet. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to be beastly, but …” Madge stopped and her body suddenly convulsed with a massive sob, “he’s just being no help at all with this menopause thing. He said I’d sat on some strawberries … sob… and when I tried to tell him about it all tonight … gulp … he ..” and here she paused again, overcome by the enormity of her husband’s tactlessness, the tears now pouring freely down her face “… he told me to grin and bear it. Then he rushed off to hide in the toilet.”

“Poor you,” replied David. “But perhaps he doesn’t mean to be dismissive? Maybe he’s embarrassed? Or he can’t face up to the fact that you and he are both getting older? Try not to be too hard on him, Mother. I know it’s not at all easy when you’re so upset yourself, but perhaps you could try to tell him how you need him to respond?”

“Oh, I suppose you’re right, David. He’s a good man, through and through, but he’s never been very good at discussing these sorts of personal things, for all his medical training. I’ll have to try to make allowances, I suppose, although it’s hard when I’m feeling so low.”

“Ata girl, Mother, that’s so brave of you.” David gave her another little supportive hug, and then gathered his thoughts to tackle the other issue she had raised.


“Now what was that other thing troubling you, Mother?” said David.

“Oh, it’s rather awkward, David,” replied Madge, composing herself again. “I’ve been using of these helplines to try to get some medical information about the menopause, and they keep using words I haven’t come across before. It makes me feel like a silly schoolgirl. First there was ‘vagina’, ‘masturbate’ and ‘libido’. I tried looking them up in the dictionary and I asked some of the women in the WI, but I’m still none the wiser really.”

David had difficulty suppressing a smile. Knowing some of the personalities involved, he imagined that the scene where Madge asked them about those words could have been more than a little comical, and he made a mischievous mental note to probe some more on this later.

“But the latest one”, Madge continued, “that it all seems to revolve around somehow, is ‘sexual intercourse’. I have no idea at all what it is, but feel as though I should know, somehow.”

David paused for thought, caught rather off guard. This was not the conversation one should be having with one’s parent!

“Well, I’m sure you know what it is, Mother, even if you haven’t come across that actual term to describe it. It’s… er… you know, what you and Father, er… do in bed sometimes before you go to sleep?” he replied.

“What? You mean me reading my book and him trying to finish the crossword?”

“Well, no, not really”, poor David struggled on, “after you turn off the light, and before you go to sleep?”

“No”, replied Madge, “you’ve lost me there, David. I finish off my milk, put out the light, and then I’m off with the fairies until morning. Unless your father’s in one of his snoring phases, of course.”

He tried another tack. “Mother, you definitely do know all about this. Do you remember that time at the zoo? With the monkeys? You explained it all to me then. What happens to make baby monkeys?”

“Oh, rutting, you mean?” Madge was cottoning on, at last. “But that’s animals, dear. This was in the context of people. People don’t copulate.”

“Er, well, it’s not exactly the same, of course, but the basic function’s similar.” David replied.

“I think”, he added quietly, blushing.

“No dear,” Madge was insistent. “Human babies are made when a man and a woman get married in church, exchange vows and rings, cut the cake, and lie together.” She thought for a moment and added “I think it has to be under the bedclothes, or it doesn’t work.”

Her eldest son was now at a total loss for words. Fortunately for him the conversation was curtailed at that point by the entrance into the salon of his father, clutching his now rather crumpled copy of The Times.

“Hello, David. What a lovely surprise. What brings you here? Nothing the matter, I hope?” said Jem, mercifully completely oblivious to the conversation he had just interrupted.


“Hello Father,” David replied. “I’ve bought myself a poppet of a little car and thought I’d give her a decent spin to try her out. I’m on a break for the next couple of days and thought I could do with getting out into the country. So here I am!”

“We’d better have a look then. Where is it, on the drive? Coming Madge?” replied Jem.

Madge declined, thinking that she could do with a few minutes peace and quiet to digest the latest information she had gleaned from David. She was now putting two and two together – the little lecture she’d had from Therese, the monkeys in the zoo, David’s explanations of the term “sexual intercourse”, the reaction of the members of the WI to the enquiry about “dreifer china”. The penny had dropped. She had realised that there was something missing from her marriage.

David, meanwhile, was wondering whether to bring up the subject of his mother with Jem. He felt rather bound not to say anything, not having asked Madge if it would be all right to. He realised by now that Madge truly had no idea at all about sex, and could only come to the conclusion that she and his father had never actually had intercourse. But that left a rather large question mark over his parentage, and the only solution David could come up with was rather challenging for him personally. He decided to ask his father a direct question, without revealing the conversation he’d had with Madge, to test his theory.

“Father, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. Was I adopted?”

“Good heavens no, whatever makes you think that? Nice bodywork she’s got, I must say. How many miles on the clock?”

“About 48,000. Oh, nothing in particular. I was just wondering.”

“What brought that on, something must have? Miles to the gallon?”

“Don’t know yet, but I’m keeping count of how much I put in and what the clock says, so I’ll soon know.” To answer the other question David improvised frantically. “Well all we Russell children look somewhat unalike, and mother never seemed to be pregnant – certainly nothing was ever said about it. The babies just sort of appeared one day.” Now he came to think of it, that was certainly the case, strengthening his conviction that it must be the true explanation.

“Looks like a good buy, David. Well done. I can assure you that none of you were adopted. Mother was particularly good at being discreet about her pregnancies, that’s all.” They turned to go back into the house, and Jem changed the subject, starting to ask David about his medical training.

“How was orthopaedics? Davidson’s a good man, so if you were working under him you should have learnt a bit.”

“Yes, and there’s lots to learn. As well as the clinics, we had to do a fair bit of reading. I sometimes feel as if my head is exploding with information. That’s one of the reasons I fancied a break before starting the next part.”

“How about coming up to the San with me tomorrow now you’re here? There are one or two interesting cases in right now.”

“Not really Father, thank you. I promised to help Mother with … er … something, and I do need that break from hospitals.”

“OK, as you please,” said Jem, missing his cue as usual. By now they were entering the salon and as Madge rose to greet them she fully overheard his next piece of advice to his son. “Just remember, David, there may be mountains of stuff to learn from the books, but a good doctor is more than just a repository of facts. It’s how you relate to the patients that really makes the difference. Work on your bedside manner, my boy.”


Suppressing a snort, and with a twinkling glance at David, Madge headed towards the kitchen to check whether Marie had noticed David’s arrival and to find out how she was going to cope with an extra person for dinner. Marie had been engrossed in peeling her potatoes, and hadn’t noticed his arrival. Drying her hands on her apron, she dashed through to the salon to welcome him with an enormous hug - she had a very soft spot for this young man. After making a fuss of him, she returned to the kitchen to answer Madge’s enquiry about dinner. They agreed that there was plenty of meat to go around, and with a few extra potatoes all would be well. She had planned a very simple dessert of stewed blackberries, though, and despite Madge’s protestations that it was unnecessary, she insisted she would set to at once to make one of David’s favourites, blackberry and apple upside-down cake, served with custard. As Madge left the kitchen she was just reaching for the recipe book.


Madge, Jem and David were just sitting back down to resume their conversation when there was a piercing scream from the kitchen. Marie rushed in, in an extremely agitated state. “Madame, das ist nicht gut. I vill not put up with such filth in my kitchen. Vhy has this obszönes Buch been left there? Never in all my years with this family have I experienced such a thing.” She slammed down on the table in front of Madge the little book “The Married Woman’s Handbook”, which she had picked up in her recipe search. It was open at a page containing a full page illustration of the male anatomy in an aroused state.

Madge looked at it. “Gracious, that looks painfully swollen – the poor man! I’m so sorry Marie. I’ve no idea how it got in among the recipe books.” She glanced at Jem. “It’s one of your medical books isn’t it, darling? Any idea how it got there?”

“Er, yes it’s one of my medical books. Sorry, it seems to have found its way into the kitchen, Marie,” he replied, taking the book from Madge.

Still rather disgruntled, but somewhat mollified, Marie made her way back to the kitchen.

Jem, experiencing a brief moment of courage, passed the book back across to Madge. “Actually dear, you might find this interesting. Why don’t you have a little read?” he said hesitantly.

“No Jem, I don’t think so”, Madge replied. “It’s hardly my sort of book, now is it? You know I have very little interest in your medical details.”

Jem stuttered “But it’s really… I mean… er… it’s actually not…. um… oh, never mind.”

Madge passed the book back in his direction, but it was intercepted by David, who looked at his father, then his mother, flipped through the book, then remembered the copies of Playboy and the Ann Summers catalogue. He looked confused. Something most peculiar was going on in his parents’ marriage, and he wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to find out any more about it.


The remainder of the time before dinner was spent in relative peace and quiet. Madge was occupied with sorting linen, and Jem, as ever at times of stress, had retreated into his copy of The Times. David strolled to the village to get a breath of fresh air and a well earned rest from his parents’ marital problems. He needed to think things through, but puzzle as he might, he could not imagine how his mother could have conceived 5 times whilst remaining so completely ignorant about sexual matters. Despite his father’s assurance that he was not adopted, he feared that this remained the only possible explanation and suspected that his father had lied. He decided to see if he could steer the conversation over dinner around to pregnancy in general, to see if Madge would volunteer any information about her own experiences that would confirm that she had indeed borne her children herself.

Dinner was a pleasant meal. David described some of his experiences during his placement on the obstetrics ward, leading Madge to chat very naturally about her own symptoms during pregnancy, and even venture some details of the various births. The more the conversation progressed, the surer David became that she had indeed been pregnant and given birth to her children. He was reassured by this on his own account and that of his siblings, but still greatly puzzled as to how she could have conceived whilst remaining so completely ignorant of the facts of life. Thinking about it, he decided that this really was none of his concern. It was not his place to probe, nor to judge his parents.

After dinner Madge excused herself. This had been one of the most emotionally exhausting days of her life. She was drained, with the beginnings of a headache coming on, and decided that an early night was what she needed. Jem was very understanding. It has to be said that this was partly out of self interest, in that he had left a few additional books on the pile on Madge’s bedside table, but he was genuinely concerned about Madge too, as she was looking very tired and drawn. “That’s a good idea, old thing. You pop off upstairs and tuck yourself in. Settle down with a good book, perhaps, and I’ll bring your hot milk up later.”


Rapidly changed into her nighty, and with her teeth cleaned and her hair brushed, her face cleansed and her prayers said, Madge climbed with some relief into bed. She thought back over the day. The phone call with Joey, the emails to and from Caroline, the session with the dictionary, the encounters at the WI meeting, the evening’s conversations with Jem and David, and the incident with Jem’s medical book. It had been quite a day. And although there were still some gaps in her understanding of sexual matters, she felt older and considerably wiser.

She reached across to her bedside table. When it came to her bedtime reading, Madge had something of a guilty secret. She wasn’t obsessively secret about it, but neither did she broadcast the fact. Jem probably knew, or at least had access to the information if he took any notice at all. The household staff probably didn’t have enough knowledge of English literature to realise what was going on, especially given the modest attempts she made at concealment. But Madge was somewhat ashamed of her taste in books, and made strenuous attempts to read a variety of other genres. In the end, though, it was almost like a compulsion with her, and after trying to immerse herself in the latest literary recommendations, she always returned to her favourite authors, wrapping herself with their worlds like a comfort blanket. She felt she must be the only 50-year old woman in the world who was addicted to schoolgirl novels.

She reached out for her current Angela Brazil, which she had concealed under one of Joey’s books. She was not particularly fond of Joey’s style of writing, and found the plots exceptionally repetitive, but thought it would seem more acceptable, should any visitors stray into her room, for them to think that she was reading her sister’s work. After she had read the school books she usually gave them to one of the girls, pretending that they had been purchased for them in the first place. It had occurred to her that she would need another cover story fairly soon, once the girls outgrew this type of story. Perhaps there would be granddaughters to collect for instead?

So, she was surprised to find an unfamiliar title on top of the small pile of books. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” she read. “Well that’s not one of mine. What’s it doing here? It must be Sybil’s – she’s going through a rather regrettable phase at present of reading the worst kind of romantic novel.” Reluctantly she hoisted herself out of bed and trotted down the corridor to replace the stray book in Sybil’s bookcase. Returning to her room, she snuggled down once more, and reached out again.

Another unfamiliar title. “Oh good heavens, where has this one come from? ‘Fanny Hill’? That’s one of those old fashioned American series like Anne of Green Gables, I think, so it must be one of Ailie’s.” Again poor Madge heaved herself out of bed and made her way down the corridor, placing the book on Ailie’s chest of drawers ready for her return home from school at Christmas.

Plumping up her pillows, and settling back down again, she reached out and this time found the expected Josephine M Bettany book, which she impatiently put to one side to finally find her Angela Brazil. At last – she opened the book at the bookmark and immersed herself in the world she loved.


#10:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:24 pm

While Madge was reading comfortably in bed, David went out for another stroll, eager to get some more fresh country air into his lungs, and glad to have some peace and quiet to continue turning over in his mind the whole impossible conundrum of his conception.

Jem, as ever, was worrying away at the crossword – having failed so far to decipher 1 across, despite the extended period of concentration in the toilet, his efforts today had been largely in vain, as he had only managed to solve four clues, and he wasn’t entirely convinced that two of them were right. He too was somewhat distracted by the day’s events. The news that Madge was undergoing the menopause would, of course, have an impact on him personally. He wasn’t entirely devastated to discover that it was time to retire his turkey baster. Over the past few years he had been finding it increasingly difficult to supply its contents, and if he were being honest with himself, he would have realised that he would not really miss that little ritual.

At about 10:30 he put down his paper and tapped out the contents of his pipe into the ash-tray, cleaning it thoroughly with pipe cleaners ready for the next day. He went to the kitchen to prepare Madge’s milk – measured it out, and put it on to boil. Although there was not the usual reason for a dose in the milk, Jem realised that Madge was in a highly emotional state and decided that it would be a kindness, tonight, to give her something to help her sleep. So after pouring the milk into the cup, he opened the bottle to add the usual measure.

It was at this precise point that David returned from his walk, choosing to enter via the kitchen door as he feared that his shoes might be somewhat muddy. Having seen Jem carry up his mother’s bedtime milk many times before, he realised at once what his father was doing and put two and two together, his vow not to judge his parents shattering violently into a million pieces as he saw red.

“You fiend”, he shouted in fury. “So that’s how you’ve been doing it. You’re a monster, a brute! You’ve been drugging her, and then having your evil way with her, haven’t you?” He was incensed that Jem could treat Madge with such disrespect. He ran across the kitchen and drew back his arm, landing a hefty punch squarely on his father’s chin.


#11:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:26 pm

As Jem crumpled to the floor David was hit by a wave of remorse. He had knocked out his own father! This was totally at odds with his personal code of conduct, his religion, his pacifist views, and the Hippocratic Oath. He rushed over at once, and helped his father to a sitting position. He dampened a tea towel with cold water and applied it to the rapidly swelling face, mopping up the blood streaming from the corner of Jem’s mouth.

“Father, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have hit you, whatever you have been doing to Mother.” David’s apology was sincere, but try as he would he could not disguise his revulsion at the acts he was attributing to his father.”

Jem was coming round slowly and managed to splutter a reply. “I can explain, David. It’s not a pretty tale, but certainly not as bad as you seem to be thinking.”

With David’s help, Jem made it into one of the chairs by the stove, and David fetched the brandy bottle. He poured them each a generous glass and waited to hear his Father’s explanation.

It came in random bursts. “She was so beautiful, so composed, so serene, and so completely innocent. She had no idea at all. She thought babies were made simply by the act of marriage. A gift from God. How could I disillusion her? How could I debase her? How could I explain? Oh I tried. At first. In words and in acts. And it was painful, so painful, the chastity. Knowing what we were missing. How much closer we could have become. But if she had been revolted by it, and by me? What would she have thought of me? I could not have borne it. She looked up to me. I was a father figure. It was better to leave it. Maintain her innocence.”

“But then … of course … the babies didn’t come. She was so disappointed. She thought God had failed her. Or she had failed Him. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So it started … and then once Jack came on board it was even harder to go back. There was the element of competition. I couldn’t let her down. Those bloody triplets. We couldn’t let on, Jack and I. By then it was too late.” He added softly and thoughtfully “Far too late”.

At this point he turned to his son, looked him in the eye, and clasped his hands in his own. “Don’t think badly of me, David. I only did it because of my deep love and respect for your mother.”

“Pah!” David ejaculated, thrusting aside his father’s hands, and standing up, towering over his bruised and bleeding father. “You talk of love, and respect? Father, you drugged her, and then raped her.”

“Rape?” Jem was vehement. “Oh no. No. Oh no. David, it was never that. It was never me. I couldn’t have defiled her. It was the turkey baster.”


#12:  Author: Cryst PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:27 pm

I think this is the new bit ...

It was as well that David was a patient and understanding young man, who deeply respected and dearly loved his parents, for it took a considerable amount of effort to get enough information from his father to piece together the facts. “So, Father,” he said, eventually, “let’s see if I’ve got this straight. You and Uncle Jack could not bear to destroy Mother and Aunt Joey’s innocence, so for some thirty years, in your case, you have been slipping a little dose into her milk at night so that she sleeps soundly and then performing artificial insemination (turkey baster). I, and all my siblings, plus all the Maynard cousins, have been conceived in this way. Is that it?”

“Yes, David, that’s the nub of it, though of course I haven’t had to do it every night,” replied Jem, pleased that his son was reacting so calmly to the extraordinary news.

“You’re both utterly bonkers,” said David in wonderment. “Did you really think they would never find out about how other people make babies?”

“Well, it’s not the sort of thing people used to ever talk about,” replied Jem, “though I must admit, it all seems to coming out into the open more these days. Jack has now explained it all to Joey, anyway. So it’s only Madge left. I’ve been trying and trying to find a way to broach the subject. You’ve no idea how hard it’s been for me.”

“No, you’re right, Father, I really can’t begin to imagine it,” replied David with a wry smile. “Well, somehow or other you are going to have to tell her. This can’t go on. She’s started speculating about it anyway. She said she asked her WI chums this afternoon what “vagina” means – can you imagine how that went down with that dreadful Higginson woman? It’s only a matter of time before she finds out the truth about sexual intercourse, and it won’t be long after that before she starts wondering how she managed to conceive us all.”

“I was thinking, David” his father started slowly, “it doesn’t have to come from me, does it? Perhaps you would …”

“Stop right there. There is no way on God’s earth that I am going to have that conversation with Mother.” He patted Jem on his shoulder. “Be strong. Your marriage can survive this. You can do it. You’re going to have to.”

Jem sighed. “I suppose you’re right - I’ll try again tomorrow. Thank you for being such a good listener, David.”

And with that, they rinsed out their whisky glasses and made their way upstairs.


#13:  Author: SamLocation: Essex, UK PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:31 pm

Good for David- Jem deserves a good punch!

Glad to see this back, Cryst.


#14:  Author: VikkiLocation: Sitting on an iceberg, freezing to death!!! PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:38 pm


Jem, stop being a spineless wuss and TELL her for god's sake!!!

Thanks Cryst!


#15:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:40 pm

Personally I feel Jem deserves another punch - if it wasn't rape it was indecent assault.

Good to see more of this Cryst, thanks.


#16:  Author: SamLocation: Essex, UK PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:43 pm

*wonders what Sybil will think if she starts to read Lady Chatterley's Lover!*


#17:  Author: KathrynWLocation: London PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:09 am

Thanks Cryst, I'm glad you managed to re-post it. I am so very glad that I am not in David's shoes right now...



#18:  Author: RosyLocation: Gloucestershire-London-Aberystwyth PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:34 am

Shocked Grief. Gracious. Possibly even golly. Looking forward to more of this!


#19:  Author: FatimaLocation: Sunny Qatar PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:14 am

I'm really glad to see this back, thanks, Cryst. I didn't think Jem could get any more spineless, but to ask David to tell Madge the facts of life Shocked ! He really is dreadful!


#20:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:37 am

Glad to see this back, thanks Cryst!

Jem is so hopeless that I'm beginning to hope that Madge does a Lady Chatterley - obviously not with Andreas who is happily married to Marie, but maybe with the milkman or someone Laughing !


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