Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Coming of age

I'm usually reluctant to blame my failings on being old. It's rather pathetic to trot out such a lame excuse for being exhausted or grumpy when younger people don't have this handy copout and just have to deal with things.

It also panders to ageism by giving the impression older people are so beset by mental and physical decrepitude they're best avoided and probably not fit to be employed.

But sometimes it's very tempting to use the magic word age to get a wave of sympathy and concern when it's something that fits the bill. And there's plenty to choose from. Knackered? Ratty? Dozing off? Scatterbrained? Bit wobbly? Stiff fingers? Well, I'm getting on a bit, you know. Not as young as I used to be. Oh don't worry, Nick, not a problem, we can handle it.

Except it might not work like that. People might not be sympathetic at all. They might just think I'm being feeble and helpless and should pull myself together. Or since I don't look my age, they might think I'm just kidding and take no notice.

Also, being a fiercely independent person, not wanting to admit I can't cope and not wanting other people fussing round me, I'm actually more likely to put on a BAFTA-winning pretence of Olympic fitness than admit the years might be telling on me.

Anyway, if I start to blame my failings on age, before long I'll be one of those oldies whose lifestyle shrinks to zero on the grounds that I'm getting too old and doddery to do anything new or adventurous. I'll start claiming I don't have the strength or energy to do things instead of rising to the challenge and finding out what my limits actually are.

I don't want to end up one of those old fossils gawping at the TV all day because I'm convinced I'm half-paralysed and ready for the long wooden box. Me, I'm going out with a bang - you're only old once, I say.

(Thanks to Flirty for raising the subject)


Medbh said...

It's a tired cliche, but nonetheless true, that age is largely a state of mind. I'm with you, Nick. "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Nick said...

That's definitely how I feel, Medbh. Although I guess there are naturally gentle souls who would prefer the confident acceptance of whatever lies beyond death.

Gaye said...

I say "vampirism" is the only way. Sorry I am not making light of a dark matter. Actually I don't even know if death is a dark matter. I guess part of the deal that makes it all the more interesting is that we just don't know. I am 37, I don't feel any older than 25, except when I cut my hand or acquire a bruise or look in the mirror. Of course I should add I can't do the no-sleep-for-3-nights-in-a-row-and-still-fresh stunt either.

bye bye bellulah said...

My Grandmother, who is almost 97 and until recently was taking art classes at college, entering Beautiful Garden competitions and working at the local Help the Aged shop (now has to content herself with knitting jumpers for oil slicked penguins!), tells me her father would regularly leapfrog post boxes into his old age.

I much prefer being (just) in my 40s than any previous (adult) decade and I wouldn't go back beyond 30 again for anything.

My brother and I used to joke, 'with every passing week we're another week closer to death and that's something no bugger can take away from us'!

Nick said...

Gaye - I never could do the 3 nights in a row and still fresh routine even when I was a teenager! Now I never sleep properly for one night plus I can't nap during the day so I'll probably just drop dead of exhaustion....

Bell - I think I'd like to be back in my mid 50s physically because of a few problems that are setting in now (like hypertension) but then I wouldn't have had all the amazing experiences of the last few years. Your grandmother sounds like a bright spark who's never given in to age too easily.

Flirty said...

Slide into the grave with a fag in one hand and a martini in the other.

Nick said...

Sounds perfect, Flirty, except I've never liked fags and two drinks scramble my system something rotten - but I guess that won't matter once I'm totally decrepit. Some illegal drugs might make my deathbed cosier - must put aside enough cash for a brain-wrecking cocaine binge.