Lynne Mortimer: Why you’re never too old to find your inner Fred Astaire

Does sex still matter when you are over 60?

Does sex still matter when you are over 60? - Credit: Archant

I won’t beat about the bush. This week, I saw the headline “Sexual desire still matters to the over-60s”. And this is news? Not to the over-60s, it isn’t.

Sometimes, it’s almost as if younger people have suddenly noticed we’re here.

Conversely, the survey (of 5,000 people signed up an online dating site) on which this revelation was based found that “cosy companionship” was as important to the young as to the old.

The main difference, perhaps, is that while cosy companionship might lead to being overcome by sexual desire when you’re young, if you’re not careful sexual desire can be quickly overcome by cosy companionship when you’re older. Carpe diem.

Generally speaking, though we still have it, we tend not to flaunt it. Been there, got the T-shirt, put it in the charity bag. A more subtle approach is needed when you can no longer just drape yourself provocatively and be irresistible. These days, if I sit on a park bench for 10 minutes I worry someone might press 50p into my hand and tell me to get myself a cup of tea.

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As I say, things (double entendre alert) have to be handled more sensitively when you get older.

So I was encouraged to hear, last week, that a couple we have known and loved since we met them in the early 80s, have started ballroom dancing lessons. Over the last three and a half decades, we have been to all their parties and they have been to all of ours and I never had Keith (all names have been changed to protect the innocent... well, except mine) and Jess down as a budding Ola and James Jordan. So, I confess, I was a bit surprised, even though Jess has always had a natural grace of movement. Without wishing to cause hurt, I have not really noticed this in Keith. Invited over to their house for supper, last week, we heard about their first lesson.

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Keith felt the music went too fast for his feet and said that because his steps were bigger than his wife’s, she started off in front of him and ended up behind him. We were encouraging. It was the first lesson, after all. You can’t expect to perform the bogo pogo first time out.

But it could have been worse. If you are as old as me you might remember the episode of Steptoe and Son when Harold arranged to go ballroom dancing with a nice young woman but didn’t know how to dance. So his dad, Albert, taught him. By the evening of the dance, Harold could cut such a dash on the dance floor he looked like a musical film star.

Unfortunately, in teaching his Harold, Albert had danced as the man and his son could only do the girl’s moves.

Back home, angry and humiliated, he describes how he and his date ended up at opposite ends of the ballroom. In this case, the terpsichorean film star he most resembled was Ginger Rogers.

My late father-in-law, who was born in the 1910s was, like most of his generation, a lovely dancer. He would whirl me round the floor so expertly, that it hardly seemed to matter I had no idea what I was doing.

I had tried to learn. As a teenager, I went to Victor Sylvester ballroom classes at the local Gaumont theatre where I learned the basics of the waltz and the cha-cha-cha. As I went without a partner I sort of bumbled around by myself most of the time... it killed the romance. The only dance I really mastered was the March of the Mods, an ensemble piece that didn’t need a partner and consisted of a bit of marching and a couple of small jumps. It was not a passport into the cast of Cats.

At our son’s wedding we did a bit of a twirl but while my husband has a great sense of rhythm, when I dance you can see my lips move. I’m counting. One, two, three; one, two, three for the waltz or one, two, cha-cha-cha.

So I’m quite envious of Keith and Jess. After a few weeks they’ll be whizzing around the floor, sequins flashing, Lycra fake tan glistening, hair stiff with spray (and that’s just Keith), while I shall continue being an armchair critic of Strictly Come Dancing.

Come on, get that Viennese waltz right – one, two, three; one, two three; spin, two three; spin two three... oh, I’m having another one of my dizzy spells.

See more from Lynne Mortimer here

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