Betty, my Border collie, disapproves of my sex life

Sometimes in the middle of making out with a woman, I find myself giving Betty a pat just so she knows I'm thinking of her

Sean Hughes, The Irish Times, 19th August 2014

“Young people of Ireland, I love you,” the pope famously declared in Galway when he visited many moons ago. I liked this, because I was young at the time, but on reflection it was a little harsh on the older people.

Isn’t that always the way?

I was hoping John Paul II was a progressive pope; that with his message of love he was reminding the youth of the day they were in their sexual prime and should just go for it. I wish I had taken more heed of his message now that the old libido is waning. On first dates, I tend to bring a doctor’s note so my date knows sex is not necessarily on the cards.

I sometimes think it would just be easier if I turned up with my groin area in a wheelchair. “No, we won’t be having sex, but we can go to the cinema and I can skip most queues with this thing.”

What doesn’t help my cause is the fact I have two dogs: Sweep, a grumpy old git who only takes pleasure in food; and Betty, who thinks she is my wife. She is a Border collie who will not let me out of her sight. She is staring at me now with suspicion.

I am hers alone

I love her, but not in that way. Whenever I invite a woman home, Betty will welcome them with open paws, but then go ballistic if there is any intimacy. I can’t speak dog, but she lets them know I am hers alone.

Border collies are working dogs, so even after a long walk she wants to know what we are going to do next. She does this using a wide array of expressions, all of which make me feel guilty.

What I’m really getting tired of is, when I’m in the throes of passion, I’ll look to my right and there will be Betty with a “let’s not bother with her, let’s go out for a walk, just you and me” expression.

I think the pope had the right idea. In your 40s sex is not the be-all and end-all, as pop songs and fashion magazines would have us believe. If you don’t agree, you are kidding yourself. No matter what shape you are in, your mind will wander. I have often, in the middle of love-making, thought, I might have corn on the cob for my dinner, or even stopped making love because I remember I haven’t put the bins out.

Best heckle

This is not romantic. Usually, once I have explained to the woman that you can have sex any time but the bin men come only once a week, there is a mutual understanding. The best heckle I ever got was when I said this line on stage in Paisley, just outside Glasgow. A guy shouted: “I think you will find it’s every fortnight.” He then went on about Scottish independence.

Betty my Border collie is very undecided about Scottish independence. I do love her. Sometimes in the middle of making out with a woman, I find myself giving Betty a pat just so she knows I’m thinking of her. Other times I will throw the ball for her and get out of bed to help her look for it.

My top tip for people with dogs is to always shut the bedroom door if you want to avoid these situations.

When you are young and getting dressed up for a night out, it feels as if anything can happen. You could end up having sex in a cupboard, so you head to a furniture store at the end of the night.

These things never happen but that’s the beautiful anticipation of the young. If someone asked me now to go into a cupboard with them, I would need to know if there was a chair in there; not to rest on, but because at my age I need things to lean on to take off my clothes.

I always find it sad when I see people in their early 20s at my shows. It must be like going to see their dad do a lecture. Unless they see it as some sort of documentary that explains in detail all that can go wrong in later life. I would rather they spent their Friday nights having sex against a skip instead.

I’m not saying these moments are over for middle-aged people, but our priorities are different. If I found myself having sex against a skip, I would probably enjoy it, but I would also be thinking: I wonder if that microwave is working? I know which one I’d be taking home too.