Sunday, 2 December 2018

Old age and decrepitude and things falling apart!

I went running in the rain this morning. I needed to pick up the newspaper and a couple of other things and so I decided that if I was going to get wet anyway I might as well go for a run. It’s fine apart from the muddy footpaths. Running shoes are definitely not waterproof!

In the co-op I ran into a former neighbour. He used to live in the house across the road from ours. Embarrassingly, he always remembers my name and I am not even sure I ever knew his. He was just that bloke from across the road. And now it’s far too late to ask him. He will remain forever what’s-‘is-name.

For years I have seen him out and about walking around the area but today was the first time in a long time I have run into him. He told me he is walking less as the footpaths are so very muddy. Well, yes! That is true! He always used to look quite sprightly but suddenly he has turned into a little old man, rather shrunken and bent, decidedly smaller than he used to be.

It happens to us all I suppose. In his “Digested Week” in Saturday’s Guardian, John Crace describes being offered a seat on a crowded train by a young man of about 30. He tried to decline the offer but, after repeated offers, eventually gave in. “I just wanted to disappear.” He wrote. “I am now officially that old person to whom the more polite offer their seats. That person I somehow never thought I would be. It’s all downhill from here.”

We can sympathise.

His reaction is almost exactly the same as Phil’s when that same thing happened to him. Somehow it is easier for us ladies of a certain age. We have grown used to being condescended to by all and sundry over all manner of things and have learnt not to turn down the offer of a seat. The poor men of our generation are just now having to accept that the young will also condescend - oops, sorry, be extra polite to them too.

Somehow it seems worse, however, or more annoying anyway, when it is not a really young person, a teenager, but a properly grown-up young man in his thirties. But, hey, I remember being thirty and people of fifty seeming absolutely ancient!

I have gone on a bit about children and child-rearing lately. So here is a bit more. The actress Nicole Kidman has two daughters, Sunday and Faith. (I suppose Faith is a name that has been around for a while but what about Sunday? And can you really call your children after the days of the week?) She says she has banned electronic devices from her home, to “create a buffer between her children and the outside world”.

By electronic devices I assume she means mobile phones and tablets and computer games. Surely not toasters and vacuum cleaners and washing machines. That would be a step too far. No, she is talking about communication and games devices. “We have a no-devices house. Their friends can’t bring devices over. The general rule is : play, hardcore and outside. We have periods where we don’t turn the Tv on and try to have a detox from it all. Like everyone, I worry about all the anger that seems to be around. What do you do? In our case, we have some land and some animals. I left home yesterday and my children were up in the tree house, with eight friends over.”

Good for Nicole Kidman. Having “some land” and quite a bit of money must make it all easier. 

Meanwhile our electronic devices are staging a rebellion. And it’s not the mobile phones and computers I’m talking about. The oven needs coaxing gently into switching on to cook anything. A real pain in the neck. And the electric shower has simply stopped working. Phil is busily googling ways to fix it while we wait for a builder/plumber friend to make his promised return visit to sort it out.

 I have had to have my first bath in years. I had seriously forgotten how time-consuming that is!

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