But I digress. Back to the show. This week it was all about the teen years, with guests revealing, to a man and woman, they were NOT cool kids. I can relate to that!
One of the questions presenter Adam Zwar posed was "How did your parents tell you the facts of life?" Ah, The Talk! The answers were varied and often hilarious.
Unlike laconic comedian Judith Lucy, who was a late bloomer ("I didn't have breasts until I was nineteen. I woke up one morning and THEY'D ARRIVED!") I was an early starter.
I was ten when Mum sat me down with a book on Menstruation (aka The Talk). It looked very dated - 1950s or early 1960s. It was supposed to be written in a friendly style but friendly styles in those days were very stilted. People were embarrassed to talk about the fact that once a month girls start bleeding like stuck pigs. It was full of diagrams, and dry paragraphs. I read it and decided I didn't want to get my periods; sadly I didn't have much choice in the matter and a few months later found blood in my knickers one morning.
|Couldn't find an English language ad but this brings back bad memories.|
|I can't tell you how unspeakable these were.|
Worst of all about wearing surfboards in your underwear was that if you wore jeans or trousers - and I was a tomboy, I LIVED in jeans! - the stupid things were just a bit visible. From behind it looked like you'd crapped your pants. From the front...well, you looked a bit like a boy. I had to be paid to wear a dress in those days. The idea of having to wear a dress or skirt for at least five days a month was abominable so I stayed in jeans and rocked the got-a-willy/crapped-my-pants look.
Sick of having bloodstains on my jeans I regretfully started sticking the would-be stick-ons to the plastic knickers as the adhesive stuck to the plastic quite well. I was one of those unlucky girls who had heavy periods, and heavy period pain to go with them. I envied girls who only bled lightly for three days. I had one week a month of misery.
Then there was the whole palaver of taking spare pads to school to change at lunchtime; they looked pretty obvious and I used to hide them in my brown paper bag with my sandwich and apple.
I wonder if pad technology would have been a lot better a lot earlier if more women had been involved in the development process. I'm guessing that in the 60s and 70s most of the scientists working on sanitary products were men. Being men they were probably embarrassed about the whole job, and certainly didn't talk about their work down at the local pub. They probably said they were working on kitty litter or something instead. Seriously, consider wings on modern pads. A woman had to think that one up, surely. And probably borne of leakage experience. A bloke wouldn't consider something so logical. If they could make pads in the 70s with long strips at either end, they could have made them with strips at the side. But they didn't.
I was so glad the day I discovered tampons. But girls these days, with a wealth of ultra-thin, ultra-absorbent, wing-bearing pads to choose from - they don't know how lucky they are!