London - When the relationship started I had high hopes. We had been on a few dates, laughed and joked together and appeared to get on well. It seemed time to take it to the next level.
Accordingly, we booked into a nice hotel for the night.
I, of course, had spent the previous week preening, honing, toning and tanning to look as good as I could hope for a woman of 69. He was over sixty, too, and attractive for his age.
It had been years since I had last made love. But now, with any luck, the long drought was over.
I was nervous but excited as we checked into our bedroom. “Our” bedroom. Those magic words!
Then he started to undress. And although slim and stylish enough in clothes, he was hardly love’s young dream (or even geriatric dream) when stripped down to black underwear. I tactfully ignored the gradual revelation of the sunken grey hairy chest, the pallor of ageing flesh and the stick-thin legs.
By now I was in bed and waiting for him. He started to put packets of pills by his bedside table. Viagra? Hardly. Here were beta-blockers, statins, warfarin and paracetamol, the standard nightly pharmacopeia of today’s elderly male.
But worse was to come. He swallowed all his pills, plumped up his pillows and to get into the mood opened his version of hard porn: the New Scientist! His first words of love were: “Do you know about these elusive particles called neutrinos?”
Those were his last words, too. He was soon asleep, snoring away. And that, I suspect, is the sad reality of most over-60s’ so-called sex lives.
But instead of being honest, we sixty-somethings are falling over ourselves to assure everybody that we’re personally putting the sex back into sexagenarian.
Linda Kelsey, a former editor of Cosmopolitan, recently enthused on these pages about how wonderful her sex life was now that she was over 60.
It was as if she’d discovered heady passion for the first time, she told us. And her marvellous partner of five years is all of 58, so hardly a toyboy.
In her support, Linda cited a new large-scale survey from Saga magazine saying the over-50s are more rampant in the bedroom than ever before.
If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and sex surveys. You cannot believe a word you read in any sex survey simply because the respondents’ capacity for self-delusion is almost infinite.
But it’s not just surveys that bang on about having a saucy old age. Celebrities also rush to tell us that the older you are, the better it gets.
Long-time Coronation Street actor William Roache, 80, recently went public with his admission of more than a thousand sex partners. Novelist Molly Parkin, also over 80, never stops talking about her wild sex life, even when she takes her teeth out, as she often does when haranguing an audience.
But perhaps the most honest comment on older people and sex came from former Countdown presenter, the late Richard Whiteley.
Although popularly known as “twice nightly Whiteley” - a reputation he enjoyed and played up to for years - he said, ruefully, that towards the end of his life the reality was more like “once yearly, nearly”.
It’s true that we older women look better and younger than previous generations did at our age. But we now have the utmost difficulty in finding men to match us if my experience is anything to go by. And that’s why sex is often such a disaster in later years.
Most men in their 60s are, like my would-be lover: on buckets of pills for their heart, their cholesterol, their blood pressure. This noxious cocktail of prescription drugs means that they can no longer perform in bed, however much they may want to.
If you have an over-60 as a partner, you are much more likely to be accompanying them to A&E than making mad passionate love at every opportunity.
While these days we older women are healthy, slim and fit, most men of the same age have diabetes, dicky hearts and high blood pressure. They are also often hobbling around waiting for a hip or knee replacement.
And don’t forget the prostate problems. Getting up to pee several times during the night is common for this age group, and hardly a libido-enhancer.
Then, when they come back to bed, their hands are icy-cold from the effect of beta-blockers which restrict blood circulation to the extremities - yes, all extremities.
I said to one potential swain that he had more illnesses than anybody else I had ever met and perhaps it would be simpler if he told me the conditions he had not got. Like a clapped-out car, he seemed to develop a major fault every time he went out.
If there were loads of handsome, hunky, healthy, heterosexual older men around, then a wonderful sex life might be possible for women like me. But, sadly, there aren’t.
One reason I moved to Oxford from London was the hope that I might meet a dishy don, instead of which I just see these sorry specimens shuffling round the supermarket like tramps trying to escape the cold. In fact, a friend staying with me remarked: ‘Why is Oxford so full of these awful old men?’
If gorgeous, heart-stopping older men exist in my locality, they are keeping themselves very well hidden.
All this means that sex for the over-60s becomes an ever-distant memory. If I want to have a fabulous time in bed, I know that I would have to become a cougar and find myself a younger man.
And that leads to another problem: whatever would we have in common to talk about? Besides, the only way an older person of either sex can hope to attract a vastly younger partner is if you are a super-rich celebrity. Otherwise, forget it.
The Saga sex survey suggested that many long-married couples were eagerly reviving the heady passion of their youth with each other now that the children had grown up and left home.
Really? I wonder where they found these loving couples because I have never met any.
Every long-married person I know has told me the same story: that they are no longer having sex (at least with each other) and haven’t done for years. One man in his early 70s, married to the same woman for half a century, said he hadn’t had sex with anybody for at least 25 years.
I doubt that he is a lone statistic. There is an inherent implausibility in the idea that a couple married for 30 or 40 years would suddenly find each other irresistible just because they are now on their own again.
Another 60-year-old told me that he and his wife would sometimes go to the red-light district of Amsterdam to spice up their sex lives.
It worked all right. She got so spiced up by these visits that she left him for a much younger man. Since then, he said, he has not been able to tempt another woman into bed.
Most older married couples are, I suspect, much like Alma and Alfred Hitchcock in the new film about the master of suspense - sleeping miles apart in single beds with their pyjamas buttoned up to the neck. In the film Hitchcock, he and Alma never touch, let alone make love.
But at least they were in the same bedroom, whereas so many older couples nowadays go into separate rooms, usually citing one partner’s snoring as the reason.
But it is true that some older couples never give up.
Not too long ago, just to entertain myself, I wandered into a sex shop in Covent Garden where I was astonished to notice that just about all of the customers appeared to be over 60.
Whether they were long-marrieds or singles embarking on a new relationship, I have no idea. But with the “marital aids” (as my generation used to call them) costing £100 or more, perhaps oldies like these are the only people who can afford them.
My imagination faltered at what these wrinklies might look like in these kinky garments.
Yet for most of us, trying to have a sex life at all, let alone one of orgasmic ecstasy, is such a struggle that we’re probably better off visiting National Trust houses, drinking nice cups of tea, reading large-print books and consigning our sex lives to our long-distant youth.
I have many men friends, including my ex-husband. We go to the cinema and theatre together, eat out in restaurants, attend lectures and visit stately homes. We may hug and kiss and we are certainly affectionate, but as for making that leap into the bedroom - impossible.
So to all over-60s who boast of having their best sex ever, I would say (a) I don’t believe you, and (b) even if you are, please keep it to yourself and think of the rest of us, tucked up in bed alone at 9pm, our only excitement coming from the latest paperback thriller. - Daily Mail