An Embarrassing Moment, never to be forgotten.
We were ushered through to the studio and directed to where we were to sit. The benches were in tiers and curved so that we all had a reasonable view of what was going on.
The studio lights were directed on all sitting there and it was difficult to see into the dim space beyond. It is likely that the whole thing was set up to make us feel cut off from the huge studio space and to be a complete social group. The people on the first few rows were obviously grouped in such a manner as to gain some confrontation and provoke comment and argument. The staff who had been talking to groups earlier seemed to be telling individuals what was likely to happen and who would be speaking first, and the probable responses that would come from those with opposing views.
This is an assumption made from snatches of conversation and directed looks. I was not involved and had already been told that Kilroy would speak to me about my book during the show.
We were given instructions to clap and make a vocal welcome when Kilroy appeared coming down the steps, but first he came to speak to us. In the dim part of the studio I had already seen him talking to his team and looking up at the seats. It was too dark down there to see if he was indeed the sun-baked, silver-haired Lothario, scoffers make him out to be. The show had been going for years and no doubt he would know exactly where the initial speakers would be sitting. I wondered how he would remember names. An excellent memory or did he have a prompt somewhere? If he had a tiny receiver in his ear I didn’t see it.
The show was about to start and Kilroy walked over to us. First to have a word to those who were to begin the discussion, then to tell us all what we must not say — anything that might offend viewers or the BBC guidelines, including bad language. He went off but not for long.
Soon came the music, clapping and the usual hubbub that accompanies Robert Kilroy-Silk down the steps to confront the camera and tell the viewers what the show is about. I don’t remember the exact words but something about getting older and still being sexy. I sat wondering how I fitted in with this group made up of women of all ages and a small sprinkling of men. I have never considered myself sexy, not even when I was young. I only wore make-up for special occasions, and now, almost never.
Let battle commence, seemed to be the feeling of the programme right from the beginning. A young lady seemed set on ridiculing those older women who, in her opinion, dressed like teenagers, ladies of the night, or otherwise drew attention to their attributes. I could see she had a point as to the suitability of certain clothes for the older fuller figure: without bras some breasts tend to look like the proverbial two pear drops dropped into a bag, and deep cleavages an invitation to dispose of one’s sweetie papers.
Of course, some women had deliberately dressed as though going to a party or for a drink with friends. But there were those who said they would be quite happy to go shopping in their heavy makeup and, what to me were, bizarre clothes. I thought it all rather jolly that over (well over) sixties felt free to dress as they pleased. Hair pink? Why not? My scalp is pink and plenty of that is showing. Swinging breasts in low-cut dresses? I’ve got the swing but I wish I had the nerve — life would be much more comfortable.. Dressing-up with the intention for one night stands? Their bodies they’re flogging.
In all this Kilroy was most skilful in keeping the talk flowing and switching from argument to a different point of view, or another subject. He already had a good-looking woman picked out to display her choice of clothes and make-up — quietly elegant. She stood up for him and gave a twirl, as did others. In front and to the side of me, a curious man wearing a rather odd hat, turned out to be a fashion designer, and he agreed to ‘dress’ one of the despairing ladies to help her get a companion. Older women and sex came up, and a young person seemed to think oldies should not go out poaching men from them. She seemed to have the idea that sex was only for the young. I detected an element of disgust in the idea that oldies engaged in sex.
The question came up as to whether only the young can possibly have enjoyable sex — or some such. A glance in my direction and before long Kilroy was heading up the steps to stand next to me, microphone at the ready.
“Gladys,” he said. I looked up and smiled nervously.
“You sent me the manuscript of your book, didn’t you?” Kilroy asked, looking first at me and then around his audience, drawing their eyes in my direction.
“And I said to you, “Cool the sex.”
I doubt anyone heard me answer because they were all laughing. I tried to keep cool and not show my embarrassment.
“Gladys sent me the manuscript of a book she has written. It’s about a granny who wants sex.”
“Oh no — a granny who wants an orgasm,” I quickly corrected him, but the laughter made it impossible for me to explain further.
“And that isn’t sex?” Kilroy quipped.
“Ho, ho, ho. he, he, he.” The laughter ran around the studio like a man racing for a toilet after being fed a triple dose of laxative chocolate, plus a pint of rough cider after a mayoral banquet!
That is just the beginning of my embarrassment— more to follow. Don’t miss the last bit: Oh, what we authors do to get out book noticed!