Monday, 29 March 2010


For want of anything more aspirational I shall make it my ambition to live to the ripe old age of eighty.

When I was very young, forty was an immense age, an age reserved for people without imagination, for people who lacked the moral courage to terminate their  by then useless lives, to do the  decent thing and make room for  dynamic younger generations. When people proudly mentioned their great age, I’d think : “yea, right, whatever, and bully for you.  It’s not as if you had to do anything towards getting old. You just got.”

Callow youth was ever thus.

Now that forty is but a distant memory, eighty and the years leading up to eighty look quite different. Inviting, in fact. I am filled to the brim with good, common sense, experience and wisdom; I am even willing and unselfish enough to let the younger generation benefit, I am ready to pass on this wisdom to any and all. In fact, I often do. Silly squirts, don’t seem to want to know.

It is unlikely, but just possible, that I shall have to undergo a few physical changes before I get to eighty. If you ask me how I am, I shall tell you, in detail; I shall tell you about my ailments, explaining at length about minor and major operations, as well as not forgetting to fill you in on the surgical procedures of friends.

In the meantime I have decided to adopt a few pleasant customs for the years ahead.

The colour green suits me, so I shall try to own at least one green outfit to wear as often as possible. A red wig to go with it, should my hair go grey and wispy. I promise not to click or suck my teeth while chewing my favourite toffees, but to keep them firmly glued in at all times.

Driving will become a doddle. Here at Valley’s End, the oldies drive how they like and park where they like. And if I have to go further afield, I shall keep to a steady 40 mph, wherever I happen to be. It is so reassuring and a great boon for other motorists to know they can rely on me. I can tell they like it by the long queues that form behind cars driven by older drivers. Nice and safe.

There are lots of things that will please me. Walking sticks and accidentally slipping them in front of an impatient person trying to get past me, is one. Or standing in the checkout queue at the supermarket and suddenly remembering that I have to pay for my groceries. My wallet holding credit cards is so hard to find in my capacious bag; I find that the cashiers are usually very patient and don’t mind explaining to me that I must press the green button first, or maybe last, I forget which. They’re also quite willing to wait until I’ve found the bit of paper with my pin number. Silly me, I do forget. And if I should forget an item, somebody will run off and fetch it for me.

There will be plenty of time for being in the company of friends and
acquaintances. Maybe even family. I will try to remember my hearing aid, but if I forget, people are quite happy to shout, in public places, like restaurants. At home, I won’t need it, after all, I can always turn up the sound on the TV. There’s only me to consider; I’ll probably find that I can’t usually hear the neighbours thumping on the wall.

And best of all, I could rave and rant and shout and complain about everything, from politicians to social services, immigrants and feckless layabouts on social security, young girls having babies to get a council flat, the rubbish in the streets, declining public standards, and the general disregard the young have for the old.

I could work myself into a right old lather.

On second thoughts, that would mean becoming a completely different person so maybe I’ll give that kind of raving and ranting a miss.


  1. Very funny, Friko. A nice twist on the usual 'Oh no, that'll never be me' tale.

    I just hope that I'll be nice, or thought of as nice (not always the same thing, is it??) so that whatever annoying, irritating things I do will be forgiven by those who like/love me just because I'll be nice.
    When my 70-yr-old uncle went for his annual check-up he asked the doc just what he could expect from there on in. Doc replied' To be more of what you already are.'
    A brilliant summing up, I thought. So I'd better make sure that whatever I am already is worth having in a more concentrated form.

    Does your closing statement contain a hint of sarcasm??

  2. I liked that Friko - you are very perseptive :>)
    Also Deborah's comment 'to be more of what we already are'. Do we choose our 'rut' early on in life and then cycle through it? I don't know?

  3. I'm aiming for 70, and if I show 3 or more signs of dementia, my daughter has strict instructions to chuck me onto the raft, and send me off out onto the lake!

    In my Hospice and Long-Term Care work I've seen 90, and it doesn't look good. No one seems happy. Since 80 is too close to 90, I figure that 70 is good enough!

    Fun post!

  4. Good post, Friko. I think that getting older is best approached with a healthy sense of humor -- yours seems in tip-top condition!

  5. Deborah - I knew I'd have to explain that. No, that was the one bit which is not sarky. I am a happy raver and ranter, but along liberal lines, live and let live lines, rather than right wing lines:

    Mollygolver - the bit about remaining ourselves; just more so; is really quite frightening:

    Jenn - 70 is not so very old if you are already close to 60, so I thought I'd go for 80. Besides, I know several 80 yr olds who are lively and intelligent and not at all like the people I've described.

  6. Reminds me of Jenny Joseph's 'When I am old I shall wear purple' poem.

    In contrast to you, I have sworn now never to wear green, as the older I get, the more it gives me that special about-to-vomit look to my complexion.

  7. Funny, isn't it? every age over the one we are seems so much younger than it used to be...

  8. I'm looking forward to old age being an excuse for things I can't get away with now. Your take on it was most amusing. Here's to long life!

  9. When our late neighbour reached 80 , the family got together and bought her a special present and a couple of the sons-in-law came to instal it so that it was all ready to be unveiled with a drum roll on the day .
    What had they got ?
    A special loo for the elderly , altogether higher and easier to get on and off .
    So , you see , we've got a lot to look forward to , what with one thing and another , and I , for one , can't wait to see what I get on my eightieth .

  10. Friko, you know 80 may appear old but for some people it is not – quite. Yesterday I watched this woman being interviewed – she is 101 and a half and has been a cashier at a ballroom in Iowa since they open in 1931. She has been working there 78 years and has no plan to retire. I saw her dance. How about another cashier in New York who was punched by a thief and continues to work – she is 91. At 80 my mother in law walked 2 miles one way every morning to McDonald to get the senior priced coffee (she passed at 98.) Or the local pediatrician here, Leila Denmark, who practiced until 103 and is still kicking at 112, 55 days. For many seniors, 80 is just the start of old age and many are blogging. I read Darlene’s blog and I believe she is 84 and is quite opinionated ( I think you should say your ambition is for 90 at least.

  11. Yes, Lets!

    Aloha from Hawaii my Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  12. My grandparents all died in their fifties and early sixties, so my parents are my only family examples of aging - and they're looking good. I've always believed that we'll be just the way we are - only more - and that if I do something regularly now, I'll keep at it into my 80's and 90's. Of course I mean the good habits - but I'm afraid that I'm doomed to continue on with the bad.

  13. Oh Friko, looks like you might have some toot toot canoodling going on over here too!! Lucky you!

  14. Deb - If this is Chinese Trad. then it means:

    Refined said… Strives for the thing which with it is impossible to obtain, was inferior from treasures friendly utilizes itself to have .....

    See, quite intelligible, if you work at it. No canoodling on this site. . . . .

  15. Well Friko...that just gives me four more years-I'm aiming for ninety, then I shall think again.

  16. I like it, oh I like it - it sounds like wrinklies' heaven!

  17. Makes perfect sense if you stick at it for a while. Relevant to your post, even! Did you translate it into other dialects? Wonder what the Japanese would have to say about it...

  18. Well, it won't be too many more months before I'll be 65. That age used to signify retirement from employment, perhaps a settled family life with grandchildren, etc.

    In my version, none of that will be true. I still carry a bit of the adolescent with me every day. I might need more sleep than I used to, and I might occasionally have a knee ache, but my enthusiasm, curiosity and wonder at the world continues. I have a feeling that I might never truly grow up.


  19. D'you mean you're starting now? I think you should; no point waiting till you're really old to start driving at 40, wearing green, shouting in public places. Although the young do that all the time, and they don't have the excuse of a forgotten hearing aid....

    Ranting and raving requires years of practice too, so get going now!!

  20. Oh, dear, Friko, I'm too close for comfort. I'll be 80 (if all goes well) in less than 2 years. I need more time than that. When I was young I used to wonder whether I would see the turn of the century. What a silly girl!

    As I read your post I was reminded of my father in his 80's. Whenever a friend said to him, "How are you, Julian?" he would reply, "Much improved, thank you, much improved."

  21. You forgot staring. You'll stare at anybody and everybody any time and as long as you like. If they don't like it they can walk away.

  22. This post was so funny it made my day! And made me a little bit worried as I can already see myself doing some of these things. Being told which button to push?? Yeah, happens too often. But I really like the bit about the cane - no passing allowed! :-)

  23. Ha Ha !!! Vagabonde, opinionated? Who moi? I am very open minded. ;-)

    I will be 85 in a couple of months and I didn't feel old until my speedometer hit 80 and I suddenly realized that I had become very old without realizing it.

    I forget everything now and shuffle instead of dancing. But Opinionated ? - never. :-( .

  24. Fran - I love those lines, don't you. Except for the purple which make me look like I'm about to puke.

    Vicki - everything in life is best approached with a sense of humour; life can be such a bitch.

    June - hm, I was wondering if others feel like that too.

    Argent - a long, healthy life; a few marbles would be nice too.

    S & S - No, really, as a present? I can understand needing one and buying one but as a present? It's like being given a saucepan for Christmas or socks for your birthday.

    Vagabonde - the old people you mention all seem to be fit and active. that'd be okay, but not many are when they are old.

    Cloudia - yes, let's but no just yet, if possible. Aloha, friend.

  25. Fascinating this. My FIL at 91 is entirely himself. Another friend is not - luck, health, genes? who knows. I intend to live well, eat well,drink well and be happy. I have been practising.

  26. Pondside - you could always start practising; if you've been good all your life, how about acquiring a few bad habits, just for fun?

    Refined - I think i understand what you mean. Thank you for visiting.
    Is that traditional Chinese script?

    Moannie - I can't believe that, your blog is so young, as is your picture.

    Dave King - perhaps we should start a movement, make it official.

    Frances - a long way to go to 80 then, and being young at heart is the only way to go. Perhaps having all these blogging buddies helps too. all that thinking about posts, going for walks to take pictures, etc.

    rachel - yes, I've been thinking that it might take me a a while to get into my stride, I'll practice anything but the driving at 40mph, it drives me crazy to get stuck behind such drivers.

    20th Century Woman - Another one who is far too young for her age. I mean, camping in Alaska at 78? Talk about fit and active.

    Mark - Ahem, I am quite good at that already. I kid myself that it isn't noticeable but some people are just too weird (those in green with red wigs in particular) and needs to be stared at. And you can really disconcert kids.

    Nancy - A little sneak preview of what you'll be like? I'm hoping it'll be fun.

    Darlene - you are the one we need to emulate. I love the way you rave and rant on your blog. opinionated, you? Never!

  27. elizabethm - practice makes perfect. But will we still be blogging? and having bloggers' meetings in the pub? Here's hoping.

  28. Will you still be writing such entertaining blogs when you are 80?
    I certainly hope so !

  29. Always wanted to be old and imagined life to be good when the young years would have passed.
    Gladly am looking forward to read your entries for the next fourty years. Please have a nice Wednesday.

  30. Sorry folks, I've got to 75 and I DON'T LIKE IT! Though I have to admit using a crutch makes it easy to get through crowds - whack their legs, I say!

    And I get free parking in the Disabled bays (so long as some feeble-minded idiot has not parked there without owning a Blue Badge, thinking he can get away with it!)

  31. Jay - but will you still be reading them?

    robert - flatterer! I think another forty years might be a bit too ambitious.

    Gilly - well, if the whacking is all you get out of 75, enjoy it. I know about the buggers parking in blue badge areas; it happens everywhere.

  32. I prefer the alternative approach - second childhood! Who wants to get old? :)

  33. jinksy - I thought second childhood oly happens in old age?

    swallowtail - what?

  34. I really identified with this! Here in Florida, which some of us irreverently call "God's Waiting Room," we have a large population of elderly, who drive about at 40 mph,[or slower---get a bicycle!], shout in public places, bemoan the younger generations, and give "organ recitals" to anyone foolish enough to ask how they are! I'm taking notes so as to avoid getting to this point myself.....fingers crossed!

  35. Molly - and I thought the whole idea was to become one of these elderly folk, and enjoy taking revenge! Seriously, do you really think any of us can avoid turning into our elders? I am well on the way to becoming my parents.


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