Aerial Man ll

February 28, 2012 § 37 Comments

From yesterday’s Times (and rather similar to an earlier post but I hope I’ll be forgiven…?):-

When I was in my twenties, a plumber came round to fix my boiler and he nearly raped me.

I cannot remember how I fought him off.  He was obese, and I still shiver at the thought of him.  His skin had the etiolated, bright grey-ish look of a blank document on a computer screen.  At the time I thought it was my fault.  I had been too chatty or friendly or something, although I knew I had not been flirtatious.

I did not allow the incident to diminish a basic trust which I hold for most people.  I must have had dozens of strangers in my house over the years, builders or fixers or delivery men or what have you.  Nothing sinister since then.  Last week it was a TV aerial man.  He was balding and cheerful and had filthy hands and a friendly smile.  We discussed how he might put another point in one of the bedrooms.  In that bedroom, I admitted I was hopeless at these things and he asked me what my husband did.  For a split-second, I thought, do I correct him?  Why?  Why not?

“Ex-husband,” I said.

I may be wrong, but I think he then asked me if I was seeing anyone.  Perhaps I should have said yes, or told him to mind his own business, but I was caught on the hop.

“Nah,” I said.  Then, like a fool, added.  “Bit old.”

I will admit, I was torn between common sense and watching a compliment rising in him like a bubble in a glass and – rather starved of such felicities from men at the moment – wanting to hear it.

“You’re not old!” he said predictably (then guessed I was mid-fifties, which seriously served me right, I guess, for fishing.)  “And you’ve got great legs.  I’d ask you out,” he said shyly, not looking at me and smiling nervously, “but you’d probably chuck me out of here before I finished the job.”

I thanked him kindly, and swiftly brought the subject back to the aerial fixing.  He wasn’t a nasty man.  He did not get humpy or angry or unpleasant at all.  Just carried on, friendly, as before.

After he left, I pondered the matter.  Does a man in his position, going into people’s homes all day every day, try it on with all the lone women he comes across, like some randy opportunist in a Carry On film, and consider himself lucky when he scores, what?  One in twenty?  One in ten?

The world is obviously passing me by.  Perhaps I should be more open to the idea of things happening, as everyone will insist on telling me, “when I am least expecting it.”

There again, as I did in my youth from time to time, with a total, utter stranger?  Call me Prissy Plankton, but maybe not.  Bit old.


§ 37 Responses to Aerial Man ll

  • Lucy says:

    Just joining this, after having an enjoyable several days catching up with many of your posts, Plankton.

    Anyway, I don’t think you’re being prissy at all. More than two years ago my (I thought) wonderful, sweet, terrific-companion husband of 28 years deserted me after a seven-week affair and moved abroad. I’ve never seen him since. Since then I pieced together that he had been planning to go for at least five years, and the worsening of a health condition of mine was the trigger. Nice, eh?

    Try being a plankton of 57 who often walks with a cane and see how you can draw the bees to honey (NOT!) I have been so shocked and traumatised that I’ve never even made an attempt to meet anyone else, at least so far. However, I do notice that whenever a reasonable-looking man says anything pleasantly, ever-so-mildly flirtatious, I feel like I’ve had a little shot of sunshine in my day. There was a thirtysomething teacher in my Spanish class (yes, surprise, I take courses!) and a very garrulous and affable roofer who always does extra little jobs for me when he’s here (spare me the puns). Et cetera. Well, not that et cetera – only a few.

    No one was as open as your aerial man, although I have to say I laughed out loud when I read your Carry On speculation. I think, in the sort-of privacy of a blog, I will admit that any admiration from someone who is not 25 stone is a little fillip. But I wouldn’t have taken him up on the spot. That sort of thing I DID do when I was in my early 20s, but I want to at least have a couple of conversations first these days.

  • Sarah Perris says:

    Nearly three years ago an dish of a painter and decorator came to tidy up our downstairs rooms. After about a couple of weeks working here and brightening up all our lives (me plus 2 x daughters aged 12.5) with his cheerful countenance and easy quips, he asked my daughters if he could invite me out for a drink. They said yes, I said yes and we’ve been together ever since. NOT my type in any way other than physical (and of course the GSOH). Always worth giving it a go – I would NEVER have contacted him on a website (too much of a snob) and he would not have had the confidence to chat me up in a pub. He had never previously asked out any of his customers, although many of them had come on to him – blue collar does not necessarily equal ‘chancer’ or sexual predator! Good luck – your blog keeps our relationship going…. in some strange way.

  • “ ‘Nah,’ ” I said. Then, like a fool, added. “ ‘Bit old.’ ”

    “The world is obviously passing me by…”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    In 1998, I worked in a pharmacy (or “chemist” in the U.K. version of the English language.) It was my job to fill delivery orders for a number of institutions in our area which were too small to have their own in- house pharmacies, including some nursing homes and assisted- living facilities. Their staff doctors would fax over their daily orders every morning, which were comprised of a combination of orders for prescription medications as well as a number of non- prescription items. I’d fill their orders, and then their delivery drivers would come to pick up the boxes. I’d sometimes see orders for patients with dates of birth from 1908, 1905, and one whose date of birth was from 1903 (remember, this was in 1998) whose doctors were ordering a 12 pack of condoms for them each week. I’ll assume that these were not intended for balloon- animal art projects….

    My point being, there’s NO SUCH THING as too old…

    • Jane says:

      Wow!! makes you wonder who they were having sex with huh? you’d have thought that if it were with women of a similar age that they would be in the happy position of not having to worry about contraception

      • MissM says:

        Sexually transmitted diseases are apparently on the increase amongst the elderly, which actually suggests that not enough elderly people are remembering that condoms are useful for more than just contraception.

      • Jane says:

        @Miss M- yes I did wonder that as I was typing. Damn, that’s actually quite depressing, just when you get to an age when you think, I’m a grown up, I am getting toward the end of my life, I can live life spontaneously and not worry about being reckless and the consequences…ho hum!

  • ToneDeafSinger says:

    I have already written about my ex-husband’s dislike of having anyone in the house… for many years if I needed anyone to come round – gardener, electrician, kitchen planner, you name it – I was reduced to having to say “it will have to be x time because you may only call when my husband’s out”. I was so totally naive. And then I wondered why they never showed up. It never crossed my mind because of course, in my case, it was utterly true – my (fortunately now ex) husband had a violent hatred of ANYONE coming into the house.
    Years later I was friends (and only friends) with someone who happens to be a builder and it was him who, at last, enlightened me.
    He told me that when a tradesman goes to people’s houses to look at jobs etc., it is not uncommon for women to be, how shall I put it, available. He told me once he called into a flat in the Sloane Square area (London), the door to the flat was left open for him and the lady was in the bathtub waiting for him He told me you should never say “you need to call round when my husband’s out”. Well alright, I “should” have known – it just happens that in my case it was all true… 😦

    • I don’t watch them, it’s not my idea of a good time usually, but I’ve heard that the scenario you’ve just described is the plot to quite a few adult movies….

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        I have to say, when my friend told me about the lady in the bath tub, I just burst out laughing at him. I did not believe him! About two years later this subject came up again, he told me the same story in the same details, and assured me it was true, and not an infrequent scenario.

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        Sorry Scott, I am a bit slow… were you suggesting that my friend had just been watching adult movies and related the story to me?
        Of course it’s possible … although on balance, I believed him. He was, still is, good looking.

      • Perhaps I’m simply in the wrong profession here….

      • No just the opposite- Remember, I don’t really watch them, but if that really is the plot to some of “those” movies, perhaps the writers get their ideas from hearing real stories about events that actually occurred. Toss in some embellishment, a few pages of super- cheesy dialogue, smother the actors in cheap low- grade cooking oil, and there you go….

      • zoe says:

        Still going on about adult movies, Scott? For someone who claims not to watch them, you seem rather stuck on them. What else have you “heard” about them? 😉

      • I’ve heard that in most of them the music is also pretty cheesy, and that they are now available in almost every known language in the world. And I have really watched one once, back in the summer of 1991.

        Now can we please get back to the subject matter at hand here? Ms. Plankton has not been in a healthy sexual relationship for at least 2 years, and the pace of progress here seems to be well… …. … well…. ….. ….. well, ….. …… just look through this blogsite, this woman needs to meet a man, preferably SOON!!!

      • fi says:

        @Zoe. I had a problem with my sink the other day and called the plumber out. I opened the door and welcomed him in with his toolbox and he slid his hand…..oh no sorry. I’ve slipped into one of Scott’s daydreams. 🙂

      • Did this plumber have a VERY BIG toolbox?

  • Twinkletoes says:

    “What does your husband do then?” said the carpet fitter to me, back in 1986. My then-partner had nipped out for milk shortly before the fitter arrived.

    The carpet fitter was so busy asking more questions: what do you do, who do you work for, where’s that then, those jobs must pay well etc, that he was too busy to take note of what he was doing.

    When I pointed out that he was cutting up the carpet that was supposed to go in the lounge into little squares to go on the stairs… well, it didn’t go down too well.

    He was trying to put the blame on me, as my partner walked back in and just the look on my partner’s face caused the fitter to back off.

    Cue embarrassed phone call from fitter to his boss. He had to come back with a new length of carpet for the lounge the following week and we never heard another question from him.

    I hope he learned to pay more attention to the job.

  • Candy says:

    Huggs Lucy

    You have put my own pain into a bit of perspective…shock and trauma I identify with, and the abandonment also..but OMG I at least had health when he did it..not as healthy after though!!

    Soo pleased to hear that you’re taking classes and please keep on doing so. My Dad (a toyboy at 73…Mum is 81 now) got an A* in Spanish gce/gse? last year..He has 3 degrees and a Masters and is now struggling with the German that he forced me to do when I turned 15!!!

    You go girl – he has a great social life with these classes and good times away.. You put me to shame honestly….I wish a bit more sunshine into your life:-)

  • June says:

    Well P sometime ago i had my kitchen floor changed, and the man who came asked me when i would be in from work i informed him i was retired, he wouldnt believe me and kept saying i couldnt be i was much too young, i told him how old and he was amazed, this was the time when i had high hopes of the bloke on POF, the “i only want a lover” one, so i wasnt that responsive, often wondered if i had been, would he have suggested a date.Also when had my expelair fitted, the young guys, about 30 wouldnt believe my age, asked if i worked from home and again amazed when i said retired. I am not quite sure what men expect a women over 60 to look like, do they think we are all wizened prunes with grey curly perms, wearing dirndi skirts and brevitt sandals,perhaps if someone enlightened them we over 60s might get more attention online.

    Never too old Scott, you wouldnt say that if you were me, i am still on POF, but only that as i really cannot be bothered to waste any more money on fruitless paid sites. i read yesterday that everyone puts pics of themselves much younger, so pehaps thats it, men think mine is a much younger pic of me, but it isnt,anyway my hair is longer and redder than a few years ago,im told by my friends it looka much better like this and i look younger so would be pointless to have an old pic, silly anyway.

    • fi says:

      My advice is stop telling them how old you are. You’re simply planting the idea in their heads that you’re an old woman rather than an older woman.

      • Elle says:


        On dating sites it’s impossible for people not to know your age because that’s one of the main things that defines you. I guess that’s why so many people online lie about their age. That’s about the only thing I don’t mind being dishonest about – lying about one’s age online. I would forgive a man for doing it, most of them add an inch or two to their height and once it’s within two inches that exaggeration didn’t bother me either. Height that is! 🙂 I don’t go on the sites that announce other measurements.

        June, I know it goes against the grain but take 5 years off your age online and put yourself into your late 50s. Stop thinking about your age. Indeed, why shouldn’t you be working from home in your 60s if you choose, many people work into their 70s if they’re fit.

  • June says:

    Are you talking to P Fi or me, because surely you dont suggest lying on your online profile, to me that seems stupid, whats the point, personally i dont think you should have to state your actual age,something like 50 say or55 plus would be better,but as you have to state it, lying seems daft my friends told me too but all time id think id give my age away and wouldnt feel relaxed so it would be pointless. Men dont need to and many not in as good shape as females, and yet they seem to think 20 year olds will fancy them whatever they look like. I know thats how the world is, but i really dont think lying about age is worth it.

    • fi says:

      Well I suppose I would say yes lie about your age. If people aren’t interested purely becauSe of your age and they would be otherwise, then in your position I would knock a couple of years off. But that’s just me. But I was thinking of all those conversAtionS that you and p have where you said you told men how old you were. I definitely wouldn’t get into those. I would simply refuse to tell them how old I was as although they may say you look good for your age, you’re still telling them you are old in comparison to them.

      • fi says:

        I mean when a younger bloke is chatting you up, what he’s really saying is he knows you’re older than him but he still finds you attractive. When you respond by telling him exactly how much older than him you are (which is much older than he thought) he doesn’t respond the way a woman might, which is to marvel at how well you’ve looked after yourself, he just hears you saying you’re old. At last that’s what I do when a bloke tells me his age- I think my god what a wreck they are if they look older. If they look younger than they are though I don’t suddenly find them attractive – but if I had found them attractive up till then it actually puts me off them as I can’t help thinking they may look ok for now but I question how unfit they are really and how much longer before they’re decrepit. I was quite interested in someone when I thought he was 52. When I found out he was 63 I just couldn’t help thinking how he was nearly 70, that he wouldn’t be able or interested in doing the things I wanted to, and I began to wonder how long it would be before my role was one of carer and he was probably impotent and would need viagra and actually he was an old man. You see? Even if he had never ended up there that’s the direction my thoughts went in and any interest on my part vanished immediately. Nothing to do with how he looked at all, it was the effect on me of knowing his age – it just brought up all those assumptions that lie hidden in people’s subconcious. So I wouldn’t volunteer my age at all now. And I certainly wouldn’t reinforce to an interested man how old I was by going on about it and moaning about lack of interest from other men as if you tell people that you aren’t valued by other folk, then they will simply look at you differently way and not value you either. Why draw attention to your (real or imagined) failings and expect people to overlook them. Far better to not mention them and people may never see them.

      • Elle says:

        I agree Fi. I found that the attitude of men changed completely once they found out my real age as opposed to my presumed age (7-10 years younger on average). There’s a reason for that (I burned Plumgrape over that yesterday) but it’s amazing how your age can colour people’s perception of you.

        As for Viagra, men in their 30s use that in this country!

    • Elle says:

      You’re right June, you shouldn’t have to state your actual age on dating sites but unfortunately you do. It’s a bugger! Men’s neanderthal brains have inbuilt images of women for the ages they’re at and they’re like first generation computer code that hasn’t been changed and runs the system very s-l-o-w-l-y and inefficiently.

      That’s why women feel that they have to lie about their age. I met a platonic male friend recently. He’s a very honest man but accepts that women have to shave a few years off on dating sites if they’re to get a look in. If he meets a woman whose dating site age is 41 he’ll assume she’d actually 46 no matter how good she looks. And if they get on well he won’t mind. However he did confess that he would be more reluctant to contact a woman who’s 46 on a dating site than a woman who’s 41 on ths same site even though he’s 54 himself. It’s just accepted that women shave a few years off and if the 46 year old is being honest about her age men on the site will think the worst and assume she’s 50 or 51.

      And I thought the cruelty of the playground stopped in school!

      • MissM says:

        I always wonder just what sort of issues a man has that he can’t bear the thought of dating a woman his own age.

      • fi says:

        Well I take a pragmatic approach to most things – if what I’m doing isn’t working then I change what I’m doing. If june knows that men aren’t interested in women her age, she should change her age. It’s easier and more likely to be successful than expecting men to change their views to accommodate her.

  • june says:

    When i first started gong on dating sites, my mid 40s friend told me to knock a few years of my age, she said you look younger, you dress and act it do it ,but i couldnt stand all the hassle it would cause, trying not to give it away, you might say the most simple thing which would give it away so i didnt. Now i honestly wish i had, as you say Elle men seem to have an idea how women should be at a certain age and nothing can shake them.. All my 30s and 40s friends think me younger . I had to laugh i was shopping last week with a 38 yr old friend and i picked up a top to show her, o she said thats too frumpy for you, could have hugged her, but men even in 50s think over 60 an old bag ready for scrap heap, before they have seen you.Even younger women suffer, said mid 40s friend stays in relationship thats not going anywhere as she thinks shes too old for someone else to fancy her, and she looks 10 yrs younger and is lovely.We were saying her and i last week, men can go on thinking and being fancied for ever, not us though and we tend to wear much better, it really makes you sick.

    I feel 10 yrs younger at least, told i look it, dress it, and nonone thinks i behave like an old women but to no avail. To my younger female friends its no problem they accept me for me,age doesent come into it, but with men a different story. We now have so many over 60 women in public eye who look great, Helen Mirren, Lulu, Twiggy, Meryl Streep, think that would help but no as you say Elle mens brains work so slowly.!

  • Margaux says:

    That’s the problem with dating sites and our ageist society – preconceived notions of what ‘age’ should look like.

    One friend ( male) who started dating a woman he met on a dating site, really liked her up until the date where she admitted she had knocked off 4 years. At which point he went off her completely.

    I gave him hell. But he was adamant. I pointed out he would never have dated her in the first place if she hadn’t lied (He was searching 50 and under. She was 53 and had said 49) and would have missed out on someone he really liked. But there was no telling him.

    One man’s profile I once read had fixed his age to come up in one age bracket then in his profile he had written – ‘Now you’ve found me and read this far, I admit I am actually ….’ whatever age he was.

    I reckon that’s the way to do it, June – then technically you aren’t lying!

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