The Unmitigated Joy of Ageing part 2

So, it would seem that the pound has sunk to a new low which will, as naturally as night follows day, hit we pensioners where it hurts. However, we are sure that our leaders know what they are up to, whichever one we end up with, and we shall bring the ingenuity that we are famed for to the matter. We will revive our Dunkirk spirit and bring our ancient recipe books to the fore. I wonder, can one still buy dried egg?  We will show the young whippersnappers a thing or two about managing on a budget. We will regard our enforced poverty as a challenge.

First I would like to thank the people who commended me on my bracing views of ageing and how to do it. I expect to see some changes in my contemporaries very soon especially among you ladies. Think the wonderful Barbara Cartland or even Vivienne Westwood when next you choose your apparel; nobody ever brushed these ladies aside. Remember, our objective is to be noticed, to startle with our vivacity and style. Louche is quite acceptable in our age group so take risks, I am well informed that the sight of slightly exposed jowl and delectable upper arm are much appreciated -contrary to our mother’s advice. And while I don’t advise a full sale flaunt, take risks.

In my last missive I spoke of purse fumbling and I outdid myself yesterday in the hardware shop while a nice young man demonstrated how to fix my hosepipe on the tap I managed to collect eight highly irritable people behind me. And I hadn’t even realised that they were there until I heard an exasperated sigh and received a blast of tobacco scented breath over my shoulder, I recoiled and broke my own rule by saying I was sorry while I gathered my two purses together and gratefully accepted the assistance of the charming assistant to pack the apparatus in my bag. I smiled as I left and winked at the young man.

It is very important for we of a certain age to have fun, apart from the joy of irritating the young of course. Be it driving eclectically or stealing cuttings from stately homes and gardens. I was jolly bucked to read about a crew of elders who robbed vast amounts of jewellery lately, I thrilled to hear that their planning was immaculate and sorry when their computer skills – of lack of same – let them down. I too can relate to this; the whippersnappers learn this stuff at their mothers knee I understand. This seems rather unfair to me as does much of the communications industry. I have been threatened with a ‘Smart Phone’ but, as I said at the time, I expect the telephone to be an obedient servant to me, I do not need it to be ‘smart’. I deal with the smarts myself thank you very much!  I am not suggesting that we take up major criminal activity of course but something with an element of risk suggest itself. I have a friend, a mere stripling in his seventies who took up gliding recently, to the mortification of his children but as he said, ‘how long have I got? I might as well enjoy myself.’

There is a terrible tendency to underestimate us, particularly in the medical profession. Receptionists seem to have a line on this and will insist on speaking LOUDLY and distinctly at us, rather than TO us, I have combatted this irritating habit by responding at full tilt and bellow in their ear. ‘Thank you my dear’. I am never sure if they understand the significance of this but it is satisfying to see them flinch. Also, I do dislike being called ‘dear’ and the words ‘oh bless!’ beside having no real meaning smack of patronage although most of the perpetrators are female so perhaps that should be matronising?

I hope you enjoy my suggestions and I should be delighted for any suggestions of your own to lift we elders out of any incipient apathy. Winchester was once the capital, let’s make it the capital of our own movement toward an enjoyment of our later years for we magnificent warriors of anti-ageism!

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So why has Tubby shrunk? A mystery? or the result of Shiatsu treatments that I have been having for a year now? Or the five radiotherapy sessions, or could it be my persuasive words interspersed with the occasional threat?

I must explain, Tubby is my tumour who arrived unbidden more than eighteen months ago. He took up residence in my left lung and probably had been there for some time as he had achieved grade four status. I found out when my GP sent me for an X-ray for a wheezy chest. I was at first appalled and annoyed that just when I had a pretty nice life going on and had at last discovered a deodorant that worked for me, death loomed. I told the doctor that I intended to spend every penny I had on holidays and cavorting but I was shaken by this nasty reality.

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I tend not to look in mirrors these days, bad enough that I sometimes come upon an image advancing on me in a shop window, has me thinking who’s that old doll? Then I realise that it is me and I am appalled. I tend to forget how I have matured; my body never ceases to amaze me.

The latest vagary has involved my neck; I am pleased to say that I have recently lost weight and I note that my neck protrudes rather like a tortoise neck, scrawny. However, it has cleverly NOT lost the flabby undercarriage that has grown at the bottom of my face. So, I have jowls and scrag making a novel frame under my chin. I feel rather petty grieving over the state of my attributes – who cares? I do, clearly, and I am surprised. I have treated my body like an old sock without contemplating the idea that it would eventually assume all the appearance of an old sock, revenge?

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The Area

I have been writing a piece about the area that I live in for months, periodically, but since talking to a friend who is fifty years younger than me last night I have scrapped it as a sanctimonious rather dreary testament to my anti-racist stance.

When I moved here from Bournemouth it was a lively place with red lights in windows and girls on corners – always only on one side of the road. I never understood why. Students lived in many of the houses and there were three regular shebeens and what we would now call ‘pop-up’ blues that would function for a day or two. It was already multi-racial with a number of Asians and some slightly bitter whites who felt invaded. Also there was an Afro Caribbean presence. And many more whites who were happy with the undoubted advantages that the incomers brought in the way of food and late opening shops and enjoyed their company.

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Reading Miranda Sawyer today who is 44 and is feeling that half her life is over and I was inspired to discuss my own advanced age and what it means to me. I am eighty on my next birthday and am not at all sure what I should feel about this fact. Not a lot is my first impulsive answer and this is true, I really don’t think about being so old very much. Yet it is a fact. A fact that seems to impress other people far more than it does me. I am not sure how I am expected to act and today by chance the superb Joan Bakewell is reading her autobiography on the radio, here is woman who is slightly older than I am. An admirable woman too exceptional to claim as a role model but I hold her in great regard and admiration. I have had friends before who have been eighty and a few of them have been admirable people but not very much like me. I suspect that I am an aberration.

I am glad to be able to remember the war quite vividly and very possibly inaccurately. I do remember being sent off with my gas mask on a cord round my neck and being convinced that I had committed some dreadful sin to deserve such a terrible banishment. I also remember before this, alone on a train with my mum in a corridor which was packed with soldiers. I needed a wee and a soldier gave me his helmet to use as a potty and they all laughed and my mum joined in I never forgave her and privately blame this incident for my intermittent cystitis, (far more likely to be caused by far too much indiscriminate, thoroughly enjoyable, sex.)

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