I think I may have betrayed this secret before, but since I am not bound by any rule of the confessional, nor am I in (or is it under, like a racehorse?) Holy Orders, I can whisper the truth: I am over sixty.
And then some.
A while ago I used this blog to confront the phenomena known to the cosmetics industry as the ‘Seven Signs of Ageing’. I got to number four, at which point I figured anyone who was still reading was probably as bored with the subject as I, so I rested it for a while.
Now it’s back!
Why? Well, perhaps because ageing is a holistic experience, and one which I left hanging just a little over half-istically. Perhaps because I am encountering the next phase, the one beyond invisibility.
I am sliding inexorably towards societal checkmate. I am becoming an Old Fart.
Let’s discuss symptoms.
There is an age when OCD moves seamlessly into Alzheimer’s; when being unable to find the way home becomes a medical rather than a psychological condition. Nowadays I take the dog every time I go out, because she is the only one who knows the way – or she used to. Since she is rapidly succumbing to Dogzheimer’s, there is more than a chance we will both get lost.
I do not regard my absence of short term memory as anything more than a minor inconvenience, but those around me do. They smile indulgently, their tone subtly alters.
“Oh, bless him!” They say, giving a sort of third party smile, as if I am not actually there. And then they move on, because the companion adjective to Old Fart is ‘tedious’.
2 Emotional Instability:
It is hard to explain exactly why the precise position of a postage stamp on an envelope should have become a matter of such importance, still less easy to understand my shaking incoherent rage at the sight of an un-cleared restaurant table, or the feeling of an unnecessary draught. Nor can I account for my uncontrollable tear ducts, which fill up at the least provocation. Bursting into tears at a weather forecast may be excusable, given the weather lately, but it is embarrassing.
This same lack of self restraint manifests itself in other ways. The other day, in the company of a young client, I drove past a woman wearing a very dramatic outfit. I disguised a quiet snigger.
“She’s very smartly dressed, isn’t she?” I suggested. What I really wanted to say – I mean really, really wanted – was ‘Mutton dressed as lamb’?
“That’s my mother.” My client replied.
3. The shakes.
Now these are a little more disturbing. I was never going to be a brain surgeon. My hands were ever prone to the quivers, especially when nervous. In ‘respectable company’ the cup, saucer and spoon were always a musical instrument where I was concerned. But lately….
In extreme cases raising a cup from a side table may send my wrist into a rapid thirty degree oscillation. At best the surface of the tea when it reaches my mouth will resemble a storm on Lake Huron, inducing me to sip and sniff it in equal quantities. It’s the sniffing part that doesn’t work out. Oddly enough, the result does not inspire the same sympathetic response that applies to my absent-mindedness.
I hit the brong jeys on my leyboarf; I reach for door handles and miss….
4. Deja vu.
Where’s an accent key when you need one? In the young, second sight is regarded as a gift and those who possess it are guaranteed an audience, some of whom will travel miles and endure force majeure to hang on each word that drips from their mouths. My problem is that I was actually there before, but no-one wants to listen.
Air pollution? Nothing like the smogs of the 1950s.
Peace in our time? Rubbish then and rubbish now.
Jam tomorrow? Oh, yea
Cold winters? In 1963 a car was driven across the frozen Thames at Oxford. Richard Blackmore described a 17th Century winter so cold the sap froze in the trees and great oaks split apart.
All right, I wasn’t actually there for that, but……you’re not listening, are you?
To my mind age gives me a certain paternal wisdom. I have the gift of knowledge to impart. I should be venerated in my old age, treasured for my sagacity. Those around me should be glad to mop up a little, speak a little louder and accept my judgement. They should stop moving me around like the furniture and not look at me as though I am spoiling their design for the room.
I should be honoured. Yes, that’s it – I should be honoured.
Wait! Stop! Where are you going? Can I come? Why won’t they accept mobility scooters in nightclubs? I remember once, back in 1962…..