Older Age

Only when I laugh

Incontinent woman

Suffice it to say, if you see a woman of a certain age laughing her pants off, it is probably in large measure safe for her to do so because of the reinforced panties she donned that morning. The bladders of older aged women do a lot of letting go and letting God without some sort of barrier intervention.

I can’t remember the last time I left the house without a lining of some description betwixt me and my non-boyfriend panties. (Yes, the tight young things are now wearing Y-Fronts and calling it style. Okay.) Yes, even when I am fairly certain the day ahead won’t hold too many laughs, I daren’t take the chance of leaving the house born free.

It is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling wearing sodden panties which, if you have a long day, begin to chafe and, heaven forfend, begin to pong to high heaven. On these occasions, it would be stupidly helpful to have replacement panties in public bathrooms alongside the Kiwi flavoured chewing gum and all-you-can-eat chocolate flavoured condoms. But not silk, please. Silk doesn’t hold moisture as well as good old white cotton. Again, the chafing.

This was the thought I had the first time I’d been there and done that whilst in a John Lewis bathroom queue. It was nearly my turn in a line of ladies-who-lunch-with-weak-bladders, when a distraught mother avec an equally distraught child tumbled into the place. Red faced and flustered, she shunted herself and offspring to the front of the queue declaring she knew we wouldn’t mind as her little one was ‘desperate’.

Not wanting to break the illusion of a chic woman still in possession of an uncracked pelvic floor, I waved her ahead while crossing my legs (and fingers) a little tighter.

But. Never. Again.

The most shocking thing was not that I was going to wet myself, but that I was powerless to stop it. The more I tried to hold on and not think of a running tap, Niagara Falls or pints of lager, the more my fancy silk pants filled up with the holy water of shame. Why oh why hadn’t I done those bloody pelvic floor exercises post childbirth? Oh, I remember. I had been bludgeoned into submissive agony after a traumatic labour. Whimpering and staring in horror at my lady envelope which I knew would never fully seal shut again. That and looking for a blunt instrument with which to cosh Bronnie (my late husband).

Anyways, what seemed like an hour later, mother re-appears with Little Jane smiling her gratitude but, glancing downwards and espying my river of Babylon, her words of thanks freeze on her lips as she rushes past me with a new definition of ‘desperate’ to tuck into her nappy bag.

So, members of le public, take an education. Unsmiling women in bathrooms glaring at young mothers and children are not uptight bitches. They are just women of a certain age tight from lunch or dinner who are no longer tight in their tights.

Not for no reason, people, do we say women and children first in a crisis.

Women and children first.

HMS HerMelness Speaks