It was back in the 1950’s, morality enjoyed a more secretive reputation then. A more, shall we say…. refined crudity.
Believe it or not, couples who had forsaken propriety and the disapproval of mother church, did actually register with hotels and accommodating guest houses as Mr & Mrs Smith, everyone knew of course but everyone loved sex too, albeit that grunts and groans had to be shoved into pillows and behind closed doors. That was the thing about sex in the ’50’s, it was there, it was all around but it wasn’t seen.
Now, Jenny Winsome and Paul Smith were soon to become Mr & Mrs Smith, the genuine article trust me. Their future married name may well have been slightly on the unimaginative side, but I assure you neither was unimaginative by disposition. On the contrary, they both loved flowers, rock n’ roll, frothy coffee and the musings of Karl Marx. They might have objected to Marx’s antics with the stock market but nevertheless they were both prepared to forgive, he was a great man, a visionary, after all. Besides his Bible beat the hell out of the Holy version and that’s a fact.
Bohemian and unconventional – indeed fast forward a few years and they would have been called ‘hippies’- they may have been but when it came to some serious hanky-panky, ‘living together’ or God forbid a bout of heavy petting they were as tied to the mores and sexual censorship of the ’50’s as anyone else. A kiss, even a full-blown snog was allowed but bugger all else. Paul would just have to wait until the big day and that was that. In the meantime, he could just do what men were always doing, dirty sod!
The big day went without a hitch, apart from the best man being too drunk to give a speech and the Maid of Honour being discovered in flagrante delicto with the newly appointed father-in-law – on Paul’s side.
Nothing new there perhaps, a typical sort of marriage really, even if it was in the 1950’s, although you would be forgiven for thinking that all these minor local difficulties would cause Jenny at least a modicum of distress. Not so. She had more important things on her mind. Far more important.
This was the problem and it could be her undoing.
She and Paul had been courting for just over a year before tying the matrimonial knot. Plenty of time to get to know one another, at least by the standards of the day. However, their courting had more or less always been on Jenny’s terms.
She controlled matters, she manipulated the love play and she called the shots. She had heard that some women were starting to agitate for equality with men. What on earth was the matter with them, she had wondered? Women had always ruled the roost, so why upset the apple-cart. How silly!
Anyway, the honeymoon was definitely a cause for concern. And why? Because she was as blind as a blind man on Armistice Day without her ugly National Health spectacles, that’s why.
To date she had managed to fool Paul by claiming a pretty and oh so feminine clumsiness. You know, the female vulnerability card, and if men were stupid enough to fall for it, then that was their look out.
Well, all this devious romantic sword-play was all very well while she was in control of where they went, what they did and so on, but what the hell was she going to do when there was nowhere to hide, nowhere to run to. The very thought petrified her but even this paled into insignificance when she considered the prospect of Paul seeing her naked, heavy brown NHS specs with lenses thicker that her creamy thighs attached. Oh God, it just didn’t bear thinking about!
Now, vanity can be an uncompromising mistress by anyone’s standards, but on this occasion she was being particularly uncompromising if not downright tyrannical.Jenny just didn’t know what to do. She was beside herself. If Paul found out about her handicap, and saw her wearing the monstrous specs then that, she knew, would be that. How could any man love such a sight, nevermind four-eyed bull-dogs, frog faces and saucers the size of plates and three times as thick!
After much soul-searching, she finally decided that she would just have to manage as best she could and eventually come clean, that was all there was to it. Paul loved her didn’t he? Why should a pair of spectacles spoil things……..why indeed?
She kept saying these words to herself as she put on her brand new pink nightdress ready for what she knew must come. She was tingling from head to toe, and for the moment at least all thoughts of impaired vision and brutal vanity flew out of the honeymoon suite window.
The consummation of their vows went smoothly enough. Good love-making takes time and they were both aware of this, flowering hippies that they were. They both slept well and went down to breakfast, invigorated and ready for anything. Jenny felt a new confidence as she sat a the breakfast table, a new certainty. There were other ways of manipulating Paul after all, the specs wouldn’t be a problem. She would eventually reveal all, but right now was definitely not the time. Paul was far too absorbed with her body and what he could do with it, so who was she to spoil things?
Just as the bacon and eggs were placed before them Paul looked at Jenny with eyes that were crazy with love and said ‘Aren’t I the luckiest fellow in the world.’ (Author’s note – he would wise up soon enough the daft bugger!).’Darling,’ he said,’ would you be so good as to pass me the salt please?’
Jenny, whose eyes were not so crazy with love, was busy working out who was going to pay the hotel bill and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be her (Author’s note again – you can guess who was going to be the Finance Director in this Company can’t you).
‘Oh sorry dearest, I was miles away. Here we are.’
A pause hung on the end of Paul’s tongue for a moment.
‘No darling, the salt. You’ve just passed me the pepper.’
‘Oh have I? Silly me. Here we are then.’
‘Er….darling, that’s the vinegar. Sorry…….but…….’
‘Oh dear,’ Jenny giggled. ‘Whatever is the matter with me!’ This time Paul reached across the table and picked up the salt himself.
‘ Jenny, you don’t have a problem with your eyesight do you? I mean I have noticed one or two things…….?’ He half joked. Now was not the time to be picky, they were on their honeymoon after all and last night well….Jenny had been….well…… His groin started aching just thinking about it.
‘What! Are you accusing me of having bad eyesight Paul? Well really! I’ve never heard of such a thing.’
Vanity had committed her now. Terrible uncompromising vanity. ‘I was just distracted that’s all. I have perfect eyesight.Perfect, I’m telling you! You know I can be a bit clumsy sometimes, a bit in my own little world.’
‘Alright, alright.’ Paul placated.’ I was only joking. Keep your hair on.’
‘Well, fancy accusing me of such a thing.’
‘Nevermind. Of course there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight darling. Now, let’s finish our breakfasts and go out for a walk , there’s some lovely countryside around here. It’s a beautiful day and we can work out how to save up some money for that Morris Minor we have promised ourselves. What do you say?’
‘Ok.’ Jenny beamed, all irritation gone. She was in control again, but she would teach him a lesson nevertheless. He had hurt her vanity and that just wasn’t allowed.
Later that night when Paul was fast asleep, Jenny was re-tracing their footsteps earlier that day. It was a full moon so she was able to see where she was going without much difficulty. Her spectacles helped, she had retrieved them from one of the hidden pockets in her suitcase. After about ten minutes of walking, she finally came to her destination. She climbed over a gate, walked for a few minutes more, did what she had to do and then returned to the hotel. Paul was still fast asleep and blissfully unaware of her nocturnal adventures. Her body had seen to that earlier on.
The following morning Jenny insisted they repeat the walk of the previous day.’It’s so beautiful Paul,’ she had coaxed, ‘all those wonderful mountains, flowers , sun and everything. So romantic, let’s take a blanket with us this time and maybe we can lie down in a field and sunbathe. We might even…..well you know.’ That was enough for poor old Paul. Wherever she led he would follow, winky primed and ready to fire.
An hour or so later as they walked passed an open field Jenny said, ‘Paul, you know you were wondering whether there was anything wrong with my eyesight yesterday morning…………’
‘ Oh…did I? Wonder about your eyesight I mean. Can’t remember now. Why?’
Jenny’s voice hardened.
‘Well you did, I assure you. Anyway regardless of whether you remember or not, can you see that drawing pin in the trunk of that oak tree?’
‘What?’ Paul replied slightly bemused.
‘Can you see that drawing pin in the trunk of that oak tree over there?’ Jenny repeated as she pointed with her finger. ‘Look, will you! The tree in the middle of the field.’
‘Are you serious, Jenny?’
‘Yes I am. I can see it. You’re eyesight is supposed to be so perfect, so why can’t you see it?’
‘You’re being stupid now Jenny. Are you trying to tell me that you can see a drawing pin in that tree at this distance?’
‘Yes I am.’
‘Well if you can, then there’s damn all wrong with your eyesight I’ll give you that.’
‘Come on,’ Jenny ordered, ‘I’ll show you’.
Jenny immediately sprinted off toward the oak tree but she failed to see the surly old Jersey cow standing a few yards directly in front of her.
Crash, bang, wallop! What a picture!
Now, that’s vanity for you!
PS And who said I was a fan of Chaucer?!