Earlier today a few of us were discussing the apparent lack of innocence in today's children. I opined that there seem to be very few young girls around between the ages of 11 and 15 - not because they have all been imprisoned in nunneries but rather because they have taken on the appearance of girls of sixteen and older. Young boys don't seem to be able to pull this trick as easily.
Children really do seem to grow up fast these days. It has been reported that more than 40% of young internet users over 10 have been exposed to pornography and you can be sure that it is a lot more extreme pornography than the likes of my generation ever caught sight of.
I remember listening uncle telling my father a joke when I was about eight years old. I was smart enough to pick up that the punchline of the joke involved a word that ended in 'uck' but was not the word you'd expect it to be. I vividly remember walking through Paddy's Field on the way to my Granny's shop and reciting this list of words to see if I could identify what this word could be, buck, cuck, duck, fuck, guck, huck, juck etc. etc. Nothing seemed to fit the bill.
It was three or four more years before I heard the F-word courtesy of a fellow pupil in St Louis Convent Grammar School. The same girl brought tampons into class for our edification and education. I was most bemused. So that's what Tampax were for!
I'd spent my entire childhood pondering the magazine advertisements, looking at those pretty and lively women in pristine white clothes and wondering what Tampax could be. I searched for clues in the text and being a real innocent had no idea as to what 'internally' or 'applicator' might signify. I made up my mind. It was obvious really. All the ladies in white were healthy, active and sporty so Tampax must be some kind of aid to sportiness and vigour.
Oh innocent days. I was over sixteen before I sampled the product myself, only got it halfway in and waddled about in some discomfort through two periods of Anatomy and Physiology at Antrim Technical College. Ironic or what?