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Those you do see are predominantly from local businesses promoting local services. These adverts enable local businesses to get in front of their target audience — the local community. It is important that we continue to promote these adverts as our local businesses need as much support as possible during these challenging times. WHEN, three years ago, Marie-Louise Cochrane came to the end of her marriage, she found herself in midlife, reflecting on all her beliefs, including her attitudes towards sex.
Cochrane started to seek out conversations around sex — and found that the kind of talk she was looking for, the kind of frank, open stories, were rare and few. I would tell women that I met at networking events, or at church, or through work that I was collecting happy stories around sex. Those that were interested, she observed, would have quite a striking reaction. Among the people she enlisted to her cause was friend, poet and comedian, Heidi Docherty, in whose Edinburgh home she now sits for a rainy afternoon chat.
She had been part of Mel and Sue-type comedy duo, Parma Violence. The two soon formed Red Velvet Revelry, a series of storytelling and music events around women and sex, based on the tales that Cochrane was collecting. Their current show, which has been commissioned by the Scottish Storytelling Festival, incorporates their own stories and those of other women, and aims to reach further. Cochrane tells her own story about her first visit to Ann Summers. They ask questions like, Is there something wrong with me? How do I ask for what I want? Their aim was to reach a diverse group of women and invite them to tell their stories.
Cochrane had been a professional storyteller for 16 years when she started the project. In all that time, she observes, she had never been to a storytelling event that had sexual content. It provides a space in which audience members can put their name in a bucket and have the chance to stand up and tell a real-life sex story on stage. Families busting menopause taboo. Plus all the women who have told us their stories have been a bit vulnerable. Any discussion of storytelling about sex, of course, has to include the classic play by Eve Ensler, the Vagina Monologues.
This is different because of the warmth. This is a warm tone. A bunch of men gathering to tell frank, vulnerable, honest stories about their sex life and how they feel about it seems like even more of a rarity. Talking honestly, rather than boasting, about sex has mostly been a female field. One of the stories in the show is from Penny Pepper, an activist and writer of explicit fiction, including the collection Desires Reborn.
I have interviewed Pepper myself, for my book about the menopause, Still Hot! And every human being deserves their place in it. How we talk about sex is of most importance within our sexual relationships. Cochrane recalls that during the early stages of the project she met a man with whom she has since forged a relationship. She even, in those very early days, broached the subject of having sex during her period. Docherty feels that working on the show has been life-changing. I had this idea that other day that when we become mothers we become mums. And we lose a bit of our sensuality and our sexuality.
But we are reawakening now with having grown up children. Things obviously have moved on since their teenage years and they both talk about having done their best to be frank about sex with their now adult sons — Docherty has two, Cochrane has three. But, Docherty observes, things are not exactly rosy for young people either. There is still relatively little talk of female pleasure. Among her hopes is that people will leave the show feeling more comfortable about sex and themselves, and that would have an impact on speaking to young people in their lives. Sex in midlife and older is still a relative taboo, even in spite of attempts by television series like Wanderlust, starring Toni Colette, or Sex In The City on its continuing journey into midlife, to bring it to our screens.
Libido does, of course, lessen for many women during the menopause, as it does for many men in midlife. Many would relate, for instance, to the memorable rebuff a menopausal Kristin Scott-Thomas delivers in Fleabag. Communication, according to one study from the Annals of Family Medicine, has been found to be a key factor influencing whether women keep sexually active after midlife.
She observes too, that in midlife, many couples stop having sex without even talking about it. What Docherty and Cochrane are doing in other words is key. They are starting a conversation. They are helping us talk about this, for many, difficult subject.
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