OK, just a couple more instances, both from today, of how I'm getting into hormone-driven deep water. Or is it mere self-indulgent sensation?
Scene 1: I'm driving back from Wiltshire, caravan in tow, and I pull into a favourite lay-by on the A272 between Petersfield and Rogate. As I get out of Fiona, there's a strange roaring from a large dark green vehicle that has followed me in. It's an armoured Army personnel carrier. It's far from home - nowhere near Salisbury Plain or Aldershot - but it's plain that the driver is under instruction. He's out for a practice run, and he's not alone. I look on, astonished at this sight in such a glade-like place. Then I skip into the caravan for a cup of tea and a calorie-controlled lunch. I want to get home, and don't waste time. As I fire up Fiona and edge forwards, I'm wondering whether I'll get by: it's a rather wide vehicle, that personnel carrier. The back door is open, revealing a functional but surprisingly civilised-looking interior.
Two alternative sequels now. Number one first.
I can't get by, and have to stop. I get out and the following exchange takes place:
'Excuse me, but I can't pass. Are you going to be long?'
'No love, just another couple of minutes.' (There's a snack trailer hard by and the driver and his mates are munching succulent bacon butties that whip at my taste buds)
'I've never seen inside one of these carriers before!'
'Come on up, love, and take a look.'
'Thanks. Is that where you sit when you drive? It's not much like a car, is it?'
'Go on, get in the seat, love, and we'll show you how it works.'
'This is brilliant. How would it be if you took a picture of me in the driving seat with that helmet on, and two of the lads giving a big thumbs-up behind? Just for the girls at home? Oh, please!'
Sorry, it was fantasy, and so no photo.
Sequel number two. Reality. I just about squeeze past, getting pretty close to the snack trailer, causing several men to turn their heads. That's heads full of succulent bacon. No fantasy about that. Fiona launches herself into the main road with a smooth roar of her own, while I'm trying to ignore six pairs of fixated male eyes.
'Did you see that? A woman towing on her own.'
'Yeah. She's game.'
'Saw her parked down over there. Nice legs. Wearing a mini, too.'
'Fancy her then?'
'Wouldn't say no, if she played her cards right.'
'Me too. Nice bit of skirt. Bet she's a goer.'
'Yeah, begging for it.'
I'm sure they were saying those things. You could tell by the way they stood.
Scene 2: in the evening, in Brighton, at a pub called the Black Dove. This is a pleasant pub frequented by those who like wine and cocktails, with blues or jazz playing in the background. It's a straight pub, not for gays or lesbians. I'm there with two friends. At nearby tables young girls are in conversation. Twenty-somethings, all stylishly dressed, all absurdly beautiful. I suddenly feel that I want to speak to them, tell them who I am and what I am, and be like them, not merely female but thirty-five years younger and not trapped in a tired old body. The opportunity does not come. But somehow a kind of spiritual exchange does take place, a tantalising flow of energy or electricity, and something has been gained, if only better knowledge of how girls look when they speak to each other.
And a few hours later, these moments are still in my mind.
I feel like a planet being bombarded with meteors, my surface molten from the impacts.