It had started as a normal Saturday morning.
The day I deodorised the Gentlemans parts.
I was 17 years old, fit and healthy, some would say “in the prime of my youth” and yet what did I know of life ?
Why I didn’t even know that the Gentlemans parts need specialist care, they needed only those deodorants that were specially designed for “the intimate areas”.
Mum roll-on deodorant did not fit the bill.
The problem was that in 1974, men had very little to choose from by way of deodorants, sure there were plenty of spray-on type things for your under arm areas, stuff such as Brut, and erm, some others, and you had after shave that burned your skin like pure acid after shaving, like Brut, and , erm, some others.
But there was precious little sweet smelling stuff that men could adorn the “intimate areas” with if they were whiffing a bit of a Saturday morning.
And men would whiff a bit after a long week at work. Showers were still a novelty item in bathrooms and for most people a bath would be a once a week Sunday evening affair, a strip-down sink wash which concentrated mainly on the under-arm whiffy areas was the most you were expected to perform in your morning ablutions, a bath on a Saturday morning would be simply too bourgeois to consider.
But still, the undercarriage was whiffing a bit this Saturday morning in August, it had been a hot week and with bath night still 24 hours distant some “down there maintenance” was needed.
Its awkward when you have to wash your nads in the bathroom sink, there’s the problem of how hot the water should be, not very is the usual compromise, and then of course unless you are very tall then bathroom sink manufacturers never make them low enough for comfort so you have to resort to standing on tiptoe whilst you hoist the tackle over the rim and hope you don’t slip.
A quick soap up and rinse and the job was done without incident and feeling nicely clean and refreshed I searched the bathroom cabinet for something to spray under my arms for what promised to be another long hot summers day, ah yes, some Brut, that’ll do nicely.
Being a Saturday I was booked to do my duty at the Leeds cricket club – scoring for the second team. It was probably the nerdiest job that any young man could take on but I claimed to be different in the cricket scoring geek circles that I moved in – I hated cricket.
I only did the job because after the match the players bought your drinks for you, all of them bought you a drink, most Saturday afternoons I was comatose by 7pm. I certainly didn’t do the job for the money, the Leeds Cricket, Athletic and Football Company paid a handsome stipend of one half crown expenses for the whole season, that’s not a half crown per game, that’s a half crown for the whole bloody season – NOTE, a half crown is/was worth around twelve and a half pence in modern UK currency, it was a pittance even in 1974.
A friend who scored for the first team got me the job and true to his word the major benefit of the work was that you got well and truly pissed at the end of every game. Each week one of us would be scoring at Headingley and the other would be at an “away” game, but we’d both meet up later at the Headingley supporters club and have our beer bought by everyone in the room before staggering up to the Woodman in Headingley to meet the rest of our mates who would step down from their bus ready for a night out wi’ t’lads to be greeted by the two of us already clinging to a lamp post with top hats askew and bubbles coming from our mouths in the best cartoon-drunk stylee.
It filled in a Saturday afternoon is my best excuse, but as I sprayed on “the great smell of Brut” in front of the bathroom mirror I was concerned that I didn’t want to spend four or five hours in the confined spaces of the Headingley scoreboard with a geek from another club if my nether regions were at all spicy in anyway.
So, what can you put on the Gentlemens parts to stop them humming, I scanned the contents of the bathroom cabinet which contained stuff that was mainly used by our mother, the three males in the house being limited to Brut and a bottle of TCP for gargling with.
There, what was that, right at the back ?
A small plastic tube about four inches high and an inch in diameter, I pulled off the top and there was that great invention of the 1970’s, the roll on ball top which dispensed a sliver of gunge as you rolled it across the skin.
Mum deodorant it was called, it smelled OK, obviously a womens scent in the strictly defined 1970’s code of what a male was and was not allowed to wear in terms of perfume, but still.
I rolled it under one arm on top of the Brut, an interesting combination, rather frivolous but interesting in a strange, almost homosexual sort of way, the great smell of Brut being sidelined by some of your mothers deodorant, I tried the other underarm, a unique combination with absolutely no possibility of sweating this afternoon – Mum deodorant formed an instant seal to any sweat glands and kept females dry for up to 24 hours according to the description on the tube.
So it should work “down there” then ?
Well lets give it a go.
Rolling the ball top along, across and around your Gentlemens parts was a not so unpleasant experience and I made sure that a generous application of the anti-sweat potion was applied, washed the ball top under the tap, put the top back on and put it back in the cabinet, there, that smelled a whole lot nicer now.
It started gradually, a slow realisation that the temperature was rising in the bathroom.
But it wasn’t the ambient temperature in the bathroom that was the cause, the rise in temperature was coming from the “intimate areas” where the Mum roll-on had last been applied.
I stood and pondered for a few seconds, maybe as long as a minute while I waited to see if this was just a temporary affect, no it was definitely getting hotter.
Fuck me now its was burning, ah for christ sake it was hitting the agony meter.
I filled the sink with cold water as quickly as the tap would run, and without a moments hesitation hoisted up the tackle and dumped it in the now almost overflowing sink, jesus it hurt, oh for christ sake why did I do that, just get the bastard stuff off now, NOW.
Sweat was running from my brow as I bathed the injured parts in ice cold water, which in turn caused the injured parts to contract and attempt to shrink back into the body cavity that they had grown to know and love for the first twelve years of my life, not so fast you bastards, come back here and be washed of this evil flesh burning substance that masquerades as womens sweat stopper.
I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed but still the burning continued, the deodorant seemed to have formed a plastic film on the affected parts in the cold water and was impervious to our Camay soap, but eventually after ten minutes of soaking and a-scrubbing the pain began to subside a little.
Just as well for now I had the whole family waiting outside the bathroom door, banging on it wanting to know what the hell I was doing taking so long over my morning “quick swill”.
I opened the door, still burning but with trousers now safely back in place and a tortured but convincing air of normality, I smiled at our dad and answered and innocent “Nothing” to his question “What the bloody hell are you doing in there ?” and waddled off to my bedroom like a penguin.
I opened the bedroom window, it was hot in here or rather it was hot “down there”, I was lathered in sweat and it didn’t take long to realise that the warmer the nether regions became, the more the pain increased, but how to stop it ?
And how the hell would I cope in the scoreboard at Headingley which, I reminded myself, I should be setting off for anytime now.
Clothing was the answer, or a less of it, I just didn’t fancy wearing my ubiquitous Wrangler bell bottomed jeans without any underpants on, but needs must and after a quick change and a quick inspection of the now tortured and flame red Gentlemens parts I left the house with a new sense of freedom and the ever constant thought that I’d better not get run over by the bus today or my mum would die of shame when they told her in the hospital “yes of course he’s dead, but did you know he wasn’t wearing any underpants Mrs Kitchen ?”
The pain eased slightly outside, it was another warm August morning but there was a slight breeze coming from the south and it was appreciated even inside the Wrangler jeans, I must have seemed a bit odd to the other people at the bus stop though as I stood facing south, in the opposite direction to all of them, hoisting my groin up slightly every time a fresh breeze blew up Green Lane.
It was now bearable and I made it to the cricket ground by perfecting a wide gait waddle which John Wayne would have called his own, as long as the heavy cotton jeans didn’t rub against the nads then I’d be ok, it was a false sense of security though.
The afternoon wore on as slowly as is only possible when watching cricket, and the unfortunate thing about scoring for a cricket team is that you have to watch every ball. A mark of some description is required in the scorebook for each and every ball and each and every hit by the batsman, a dot for a non-scoring ball, a number for a ball when the batsman scores off that ball and a mark against the batsman too to record his score – its mind-numbingly boring, unless you like cricket of course.
If you like cricket and you are also blessed with anal retention then you’ll find the job of cricket scoring an absolute dream of a job, most of the people I met on the scoring-geek circuit actually did the job for free, at least I had the cheek to ask for half a crown a season for my inconvenience.
Each team provides their own scorer, you sit side by side in the scoreboard and you are supposed to be pleasant to each other in a very cricket sort of way and you are supposed to talk cricket to each other in a scoring-geek sort of way for four or five hours while you dot or number your scorebooks whilst simultaneously ensuring that the young boy who operates the scoreboard has the correct score and other assorted information displayed, it sounds like a responsible job and it probably is if you give half a shit about it, which I didn’t, like I said, I was there for the beer afterwards.
After an hour or so of this tedium my mind drifted to other things, beer usually, but on this day it was of course the still present groin heat and the unanswered question “why did I do that ?”.
It was hot, sticky and humid in the scoreboard and I stank like a tarts boudoir and the smell was coming from the Gentlemans parts, I knew it, the other score-geek sat next to me knew it and even the young kid who was operating the huge wheels above our heads that displayed the score knew it, any time now I expected the umpire to stop the match and declare game abandoned due to a mysterious tarts boudoir stench watering his eyes.
It started to burn again, the nads had reached critical temperature again, I tried to ignore them but teenage boys do not ignore their tackle for anything more than twenty seconds and its impossible to ignore something that must surely by now be stripping skin off your intimate zone.
It got so bad that I started to feel dizzy and eventually I shouted for the young kid who worked the scoreboard to “take the book”.
He looked at me in awe, keeping “the book” was something beyond his wildest dreams, never had he thought that he’d receive such an instant promotion, “are you sure” he asked me, uncertain whether or not I was joking.
“A single there to your team” advised the opposition scorer, waiting for me to confirm the mark back to him and for the kid to change the scorewheel.
“Sit down here and do the bloody score for me will you?” I now had a headache and was dizzy and the burning nads were at their height of agony, I needed to get out of the scoreboard and cool them off in the breeze.
“Are you sure” he asked again
“Sit fucking down and do the score” I shouted as I left the building, staggering outside into the blinding light like a drunkard.
“That was a single to your team” I heard the other baffled scorer repeat to the kid
“I can’t do the scoreboard as well” the poor kid stammered, “I’m only seven”
I was gone, long gone.
There was a clump of conifer trees behind the scoreboard which offered some protection from view of the cricketers out on the field and so I staggered behind them and unzipped the Wranglers to expose the Gentlemens parts to whatever breeze God could offer me in my time of need.
So I stood there holding them up and wafting them around a little hoping for the searing pain to subside and while doing so realised that the cricket scoreboard, and the conifers were at the top of the banking that made up the Western Terrace at the famous Headingley cricket ground, and as such were perfectly visible from the main Kirkstall Lane which ran behind the ground, and as they were at the top of a bank were especially visible from the top deck of a bus such as the one which had just pulled up at a bus stop not twenty yards away from where I stood wafting George and the Boys around in the breeze.
Suddenly there was an overwhelming urge to throw up competing with the throbbing headache, blurred vision and burning balls, so I did, right there in front of the startled upper deck passengers on the bus I projectile vomited my breakfast while still hopping from one foot to the other waving my todger in the air, they must have thought I was a lunatic flasher with a severe case of demonic possession.
I took a wide-legged walk around the cricket ground, the pain easing in the breeze, fortunately the Leeds cricket team (second team) didn’t attract too many spectators, in fact didn’t ever attract any spectators and so my exposures to the wind went un-noticed, but when I reached the entrance gates on the far side of the ground I zipped up and kept on walking all the way to the bus stop and home, never again to return to Headingley, my scoring-geek days were over and they could stick their half crown for the season where the sun didn’t shine.
A cold bath on a Saturday night caused raised eyebrows in the house later on but not quite so raised as mine were on the day I applied a deodorant to parts that should never have deodorant applied to.