So I ring my sister AJ in New Zealand, just to catch up and have a general bitch about life and moan about being perpetually tired and having messy houses, and then we start to talk about my current Favourite Topic Of Conversation For The Married Lady With Children which I have entitled: Where Did The Sex Go?
I have already had versions of this conversation with my friends ScreenWriting Mummy and OperaSinging Mummy and the answers in short were: “missing in action” and “behind the clothes dryer, oh wait no, I thought you said socks…”.
So that I don’t sound like I’m completely obsessed I moderate this a bit with my sister and change it to Where Did The Sex And The Talking Go?
We agree that when one is knackered at the end of the day, having been awoken by a Screaming Tomato at the start of the day, one often chooses Sleep over Talk and almost always over Sex.
But this was bad, AJ and I determined.
This was to be strongly resisted, because as the levels of Talk and Sex dropped, so too did the level of Getting The Shits With Your Husband exponentially grow, leading to general shouting and much stamping of feet and shaking of fists and gritting of teeth.
"It’s like, when you stop having sex, you start to notice all the irritating things they do", I had said to OperaSinging Mummy. "All the idiotic, infantile, purile things that seemed so charming, so quirky, so downright hilarious in the courting years."
"Indeed", said OSM. "I had sex with my husband the other night for the first time in ages and it put me in such a good mood I decided not to be cross with him for the next two days."
Sex was a win/win situation for all, we agreed.
The hump in the road (so to speak) was actually 1) having the energy to do it and 2) overcoming all the residual irritation that was still hovering from the previous sex-free epoch.
"I blame it on having a child", I say to my sister, "and having no sleep in two years, but also feeling like all the …ahem… equipment has been, well, left out in the rain."
My sister agrees that this is true; she has had three children and so she feels like the equipment’s been left in the driveway, rained on, chewed by the dog and accidentally been driven over. Even now she’s not fully convinced that it all got put back in the box.
"But still," she gave me wise counsel, "you must find the time to get it all out and give it a good hard polish from time to time BECAUSE YOUR MARRIAGE DEPENDS UPON IT."
Leaving aside the coy metaphors, she goes on to tell me that one of the most romantic things she and her husband had done was to install a lock on their bedroom door.
"Ah yes," I say, "good plan. But I hope it’s a decent lock because your eight year old is pretty good with a screwdriver. "
"Mmmm," she says, "he takes after his father."
We leave this confusing and slightly troubling thought alone and then she tells me that, because this was indeed a vexed issue between her and hubby, she had even gone so far as to purchase …some porn.
There is a long silence.
Ooh, I say finally. What sort?
It’s a dvd, she says, and I bought it online because if anyone ever saw me in a shop I would die of embarrassment.
"Just say that again," I respond, "I’m writing this up for my blog."
"The thing is," she goes on, "I researched. I didn’t just get any old dirty movie. I wanted quality. I went onto a special site that sells movies for women. Good movies. With stories. And good lighting. The one I bought has won an award."
"What, for good lighting?" I ask.
"No, for the story," she insists. "That’s what I’m saying. I don’t want to just see a bunch of people rooting. I want to watch a story."
"And then you want to watch a bunch of people rooting," I clarify.
My sister, who had never bought any form of porn in her life until now, then gives a strangely impassioned argument for the worthwhileness of the modern porn industry; the way they were now catering for the married couple, for the discerning, needy, loving couples who just needed a little stimulation now and then because they were sad, time-poor, sleep deprived, irritable parents.
I want to laugh at this but deep down I suspect it might be true and maybe we aren’t the tiny niche audience I think we are.
"Even so," I persist, "you cannot tell me that your porno dvd has a story. It may have good lighting and it may even win an award for just that, but I find it impossible to believe it would have a strong narrative, dramatic tension, believeable plot, engaging characters and a bunch of people rooting each other."
"There is a story," she argues, "and it is something about pirates, but I can’t remember the name."
"Butt-Pirates 0f The Carribean?" I helpfully suggest, just off the top of my head. I have no idea if such a film exists but I think it might have a market.
"No," she says. Her voice seems a little strained. "It's nothing like that."
"Pearl Divers 0f The Carribean?" I am starting to feel like I could be onto something here if the tv writing gig doesn’t work out.
"That’s it," my sister huffs, "I’m going to get it."
A few minutes later she is back. The film is nowhere near as luridly named as I have suggested and she reads the blurb off the back cover which sounds half way intelligible and promises adventure, passion and even humour. Also hot extras.
"What, like a story?" I ask.
My sister ignores this. "You know what the sad thing is though? I haven’t even taken it out of the plastic yet. "
"Oh dear," I say. "That is sad."
"Even sadder," she adds, "I’ve got the receipt here and I actually bought it in May."
I tut and say mmm mmm and make other sympathetic noises. "See this is exactly what we started off saying," I tell her. "You know, what’s the point of putting a lock on the door if you never have to use it? Or ordering a dirty dvd online if…"
My sister is galvanized into action. Perhaps it’s all the discussion, perhaps it’s my pity, perhaps it’s because she can’t stand to see good money go to waste. There is a sudden crinkling of plastic over the phone.
"There," she announces, "I’ve now opened the pack and WE WILL WATCH IT TONIGHT."
"Ooh," I respond. "Good luck with that. Don’t forget to report back about the story."
My sister makes a sudden cry. "Oh no! Oh God! Now that is really sad. How embarrassing!"
"What is it?" I ask, alarmed, wondering if she’s discovered some unexpected freebies.
"It’s the receipt," she groans. "I’ve just realised I actually bought it in May... 2007. "
We laugh about this and then we sort of stop laughing and we end the call pretty quickly after that.
My sister's got the kids to pick up and worries about their family business and various health concerns about to rear their ugly heads and I've got to get back to the deadlines and pick up Tricky. And we're both still tired. And both here, and there, our houses are still a mess.