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.