Service Charges

Today seems like a day to look back and be happy and inspired. The last year has had many high points and, since I’ve promised you some light relief, I hope you enjoy ‘Service Charges’  – something I wrote during 2014.

It finally came to the tipping point. As I rolled into my eighth decade, I took the decision that I was ready to pay for the services of an attentive younger man.

It had been on my mind for a year. I wanted someone to care about my body; I needed someone to occasionally hold my hand; I was looking for someone to give me gentle praise; I wanted someone whose eyes would follow my every movement; a man with a sense of the ridiculous combined with the ability to make me laugh. Above all I was searching for a man who would listen to me, respond to my needs and have respect for me. Phew! Quite a wish list.

As my sixties drew to a close I’d faced up to to looking in the mirror without my clothes on; acknowledged the altered midriff; discovered the insidious pull of gravity on bits of my body; observed the diminishing dexterity of limbs; experienced the decreasing ability to stand on one leg (OK how do you put your pants on in the morning?); spotted the hint of batwings on my upper arms. But I was reluctant to accept the inevitability of the ravages of time and the concurrent loss of strength, fitness and libido. As I approached my birthday I wanted to be seventy, fit for purpose, looking and feeling “sexy”. I was willing to embrace the challenge of something a little different.

Nine months months on I’m paying every week for a relationship with a delightful, athletic, thirty-something young man. I’ve wanted this for years and finding it late in life is amazing.

Paul is a superb athlete whose high-definition muscles ripple under his Lycra shirt. He’s definitely my kind of bloke. We are a perfect couple. He’s assuredly not a treadmill or a ‘revs per minute’ man. His approach is concentrated and focused, I haven’t broken out in a sweat yet and every session has ended with a definite sense of satisfaction. I lie back exhausted and happy.

Before we started meeting regularly, Paul and I got to know each other through emails. We discussed what I wanted from the relationship and what he could provide. I made it clear that stability was at the core.

At our first meeting (despite all the available hi tech equipment) we started horizontally on the floor. Within minutes I was re-discovering how to use my breath to give me more strength and how to move in the way a small baby does.

I learned how, whilst lying on my back and using baby reflexes, I could roll myself over on to my tummy and back again: I look where I want to go, I point, reach out towards it with my arm and guess what? I roll over! What a useful technique for getting in and out of bed more easily.

Suddenly mental and motor responses began to switch on. I learned to move my right arm and left leg forward and begin to crawl very slowly. Paul watched my every movement, encouraging me to transfer the weight of my body on to hands and knees whilst keeping my back in a neutral and stable position. (A gentle positioning of his hand helped enormously) Once I could move forward with confidence it was time to reverse the drill and crawl backwards – harder than I expected.

Fast-forward a month and I had developed an eclectic range of crawling and balancing techniques. I began to watch babies with great interest. I marveled at their agility and ingenuity and their techniques for getting from A to B. As I practised my movement improved and I felt a new sense of freedom and confidence. I was literally rolling into the next decade.

I began to relearn other forgotten motor skills and these magically translated into everyday life. For example, after a couple of months I was able to get up off the floor without using a chair or table to lever myself. Actually being down on the floor had almost reached the stage of the old joke “I wonder if there’s anything else I can do while I’m down here?”

The relationship with Paul has developed into one of bravery and intimacy. A few weeks ago I looked my youthful partner in the eye and asked “I wonder if you can work magic on Bat Wings?” His response was immediate “No problem at all. We can do that very simply!” Five minutes later I was lying safely flat on my back holding a 15-pound weight in each hand and learning how to lift them slowly skywards. That certainly encouraged those lazy, flaccid muscles into action.

Lifting weights in the gym wasn’t anything I’d ever anticipated but once I realised what a difference it made to everyday life I was converted. Recently, I needed to move some very heavy plant pots. Without thinking, I automatically hinged at my hips, bent my knees, lifted the heavy pots in this new safe way and carried them effortlessly across the garden.

This is a message of encouragement to sixty and seventy year olds who may feel they still don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, but are certain they want to be healthy enough to enjoy life.

Choose your own level of fitness goals, remember that regular small steps are as important as big ones and you’ll discover it doesn’t take long to begin achieving positive results.

It’s a question of re-learning old patterns of movement that have been forgotten along the way. Mine began with those baby-like movements. After practising some of Paul’s simple mobility and balance techniques I’m now able to get up easily from the floor and stair climbing improves by the week. The pure joy of moving without stiff, creaking joints has encouraged me and I’m extending my fitness wish list. When I asked Paul if I could re-learn to stand on my hands I don’t need to tell you what his reply was. So I now have a future goal.

This relationship has been worth every penny and if I shift a few pounds around in the process I’ll be delighted. By the way I’m sure it’s not imagination, but the batwings are less visible and upper arm.

P.S. For anyone who is wondering – despite the onset of this debilitating illness, which is limiting my movement, I have begun to  exercise gently. I am determined not to lose that newly shaped body! Paul (not his real name as many of you know) is backing me a hundred percent and he and I are working  through the difficulties of movement and pain,

I’ve been keeping a diary and occasionally I’ll blog about this. Despite the problems, the exercise and movement are having such a positive effect not only on my body but on my spirit and I think other people in similar situations might benefit from knowing this.

It may be some time before I stand on my hands, (I promise to post  a picture if and when I do!)  Meanwhile, I intend to continue enjoying the services of a rather nice young man.


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