Saturday, 28 January 2017

Laid-back oldies

Author Lynne Reid Banks has concluded there are many advantages to being older. She has listed a whole lot of them:
  • You don't care what people think of your opinions
  • You can get away with eccentricities the young can't
  • You can sleep in most days
  • People will happily drive you around
  • People don't expect so much of you
  • You've no qualms about complaining vigorously
  • You can get away with being lazy, self-indulgent or offensive
  • You lose your sense of shame
  • You no longer strive for self-improvement
  • You no longer worry about the state of the world
  • Your appearance doesn't matter any more
Well, I have to say I don't go along with any of them. I think she's being remarkably self-centred and arrogant. But she is 87, which is 17 years older than me, so maybe by that age she's entitled to be as self-centred as she likes.

I don't see myself the same way, though. I don't feel indifferent to other people's opinions. I don't feel I can do whatever I like because of my age. I don't feel it's okay to complain about everything. I don't feel like parading my eccentricities. I don't think people should expect less of me. And I don't see why I should give up trying to improve myself.

I don't see myself as some useless old dodderer who expects everyone else to bend over backwards to accommodate me. I have more self-respect than that. People should demand the same of me as they demand of younger people, and I should meet those expectations as far as I can. I find it acutely embarrassing when other oldies are berating some hapless shop assistant or insisting on some special treatment others wouldn't get.

It would be different if I was frail and infirm and incapable of looking after myself properly. But as I'm still fit and healthy that doesn't apply. So I don't see any reason to dump my social obligations and act like a helpless child.

I may be old but I'm not a basket case.

Pic: not Lynne Reid Banks!

48 comments:

kylie said...

My church has a lot of elderly people so i think i have been exposed to quite a few and let me say, the ones who are self indulgent, offensive or complain a lot are tolerated but not revered in the way the gracious, generous, interested ones are.
And it wont matter how old i get, I will always care about the state of the world. A lot of people say they care more and become more emotional about things as they get older.
They say that people become more of what they have always been so I guess Ms Reid Banks was probably never real pleasant

Anonymous said...

Yes, Nick, can't stand people who demand carte blanche (and are proud of it) on grounds of age or whatever other pretext.

An occasion to celebrate: For once, and it's nice for a change, you and I agree, totally. Let the corks pop and the champagne run freely.

Cheers,
U



Nick said...

Kylie: It doesn't surprise me that the gracious, generous, interested ones are more highly thought of. Who can stand a habitual whinger for long? Like you, I shall always care about the rest of the world. And I'm definitely more emotional - in particular I feel pain and distress more than I used to.

I imagine you're quite right, that she was never that pleasant to begin with. She does look a bit of a martinet.

Nick said...

Ursula: Goodness, did I read that correctly? You and I agree totally? Indeed, where's that champagne....

As you say, people who demand carte blanche for one spurious reason or another (or just because they're pushy) are a pain in the neck.

helen devries said...

Not a very attractive picture is it? I cannot imagine claiming exemption from normal standards on the grounds of being old.

Nick said...

Helen: I'm amazed she was happy to boast of so many totally self-indulgent attitudes.

Wisewebwoman said...

Maybe at 87 we'll change our tunes? Who know. The many nonogenarians in my family would have disagreed with her however.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Well, there you are. If nonagenarians disagree with her, she definitely seems to be out on a limb.

Bijoux said...

There does seem to be a stereotype of seniors who just say whatever they feel like, with no regards for others' feelings. I often wonder if brain degeneration affects their social skills in some way.

Z said...

I suspect a certain tongue-in-cheekness there, but I'll go along with some of the things she says - I have little sense of shame but I still strive for self-improvement, for example. Though LRB is actually old enough to be my mother (and yours), I don't know what I'll be like in 20-something years, if I reach that age, I do know that I hope I am loved by my children and not tolerated out of respect.

I knew a very old lady when I was young and she once told me that she always put her hand up to her face when a gentleman came into the room, because she had prominent veins on her hands and they smoothed out when she raised her hand. She was about 95 when she said that and I thought it was brilliant.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm with you on this one - I sincerely hope I don't use old age as an excuse to be a cranky, self-centered ass.

Dave Martin said...

The day I find myself with that sort of attitude will be the day I take myself off somewhere quiet with a shotgun.
If you stop caring to that degree, you stop being of use to the world and instead become a burden to it.

John Gray said...

The older I get
The more
I don't

GIVE A SHIT

CheerfulMonk said...

Andy and I don't complain or demand other people to do things for us just because we're old. But not caring what other people think is a plus. It doesn't mean being rude or not caring for others, it just means living according to our own values not because of other people's perceptions. Given our society's view of old folks, it's a healthy attitude to have.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Brain degeneration might have something to do with it. It's a weird sort of stubborn egotism.

Z: My 94 year old mother is a bit crotchety and I have to admit she's more tolerated out of respect than loved. And she's still as fussy about her appearance as your 95 year old. The last time I saw her she was continually reapplying her nail polish!

Nick said...

Agent: I thought so. I can't see you as a cantankerous old misery-guts somehow.

Dave: Me too. As you say, you've just become a burden and a nuisance to everyone else.

Nick said...

John: Oh, come now, you're exaggerating. You're a nurse, after all. And you're always describing your moments of embarrassment when you're caught out doing something a bit reprehensible.

Jean: I try to live by my own values, but I still care what others think. I don't want them to see me as the local curmudgeon who finds fault with everything in sight.

CheerfulMonk said...

What if someone falsely accuses you of it/something? Why get upset when it's something going on inside them?

tammy j said...

"Well, I have to say I don't go along with any of them. I think she's being remarkably self-centred and arrogant"

agreed!
age is never an excuse for being unkind and generally obnoxious. I don't care if you're 17 or 87.
perhaps if you're a TWO year old.
but even that usually doesn't last!
age is not carte blanche for being a jerk.

CheerfulMonk said...

Sorry, tammy. I agree one should never be unkind, but I do like the part about sleeping in if I want to!

Nick said...

Jean: If someone falsely accuses me of something, I either put them right or I shrug my shoulders and get on with life. I can't help getting upset but I don't dwell on it or turn it into an endless grievance. A blogger once accused me of being antisemitic, which was upsetting but I just stopped visiting his blog and that was that.

I'd quite like to sleep in sometimes but I'm not able to stay asleep. I do take long naps in the evening though!

Nick said...

Tammy: "Age is never an excuse for being unkind and generally obnoxious." Exactly. It might be an excuse for walking slowly or going bald but it's no reason for treating other people badly.

Ms Scarlet said...

Yeah, I think you have to wait until you're 87 to find out what it feels like. I've found that my perception has changed with age.
I used to love her books - I might re-read them!
Sx

Ms Scarlet said...

P.S - I think her list is tongue in cheek.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Sure, our perceptions change with age, but does that ever justify treating others badly? I've read several of her books too. I remember being very impressed with The L-Shaped Room.

Nick said...

Scarlet: Tongue in cheek? Possibly. But it sounds to me like she means every word. Well, most of them.

Rummuser said...

I am older than you are. And I am not totally useless. I can be used as a bad example!

tammy j said...

LOL!!!
missed that one monk!
yes.
sleeping in for sure if I want to.
and...
actually...
eating when I'm hungry not when the clock tells me to because I have to get back to work!
... among a few other lovely things.
but I was thinking more about attitude I suppose. :)

Anonymous said...

I find this list stupid . My both grand parents are 80/85 and 88/93 and have none of these behaviors. There are a lot of young people who show already these attitudes.It's not a question of age when persons require "carte blanche." I have a famous journalist in my neighbourhood not old , about 65 and he is convinced that his name allows him everything..
Mia More

Nick said...

Ramana: I don't see you as a bad example. You seem to be very considerate, polite and undemanding.

Tammy: One thing I'll enjoy when I'm finally retired is not having to go to work in the freezing cold and the dark, after I've cleared all the ice off the car!

Nick said...

Mia: Glad to know none of your grandparents look at the world like Ms Banks. And you're right, some young people are just as self-centred and offhand.

Journalists can be very pompous and egotistical. They vastly over-estimate their own importance.

CheerfulMonk said...

Yay for Ms. Scarlet! She's the only one who realized Banks was joking, demonstrating that having a good sense of humor is a lot more fun than complaining about one's ailments. Can you really read what she wrote and think she's self-centered and arrogant? I'm just sorry I didn't read her article before I commented above.

Nick said...

Jean: No, it still doesn't read like a joke to me. The Guardian labels it as "opinion". Clearly some differing interpretations here.

Ms Scarlet said...

Do you not find the article amusing, Nick?! I did. People can have amusing opinions. Z also thought it was tongue in cheek, so that's three of us :-)
Sx

CheerfulMonk said...

I laughed out loud when I read the piece, so thank you for the link even if you thought she was serious.

CheerfulMonk said...

Andy thought it was funny too, so now it's four. I sent the link to my daughter and son-in-law for their opinion, but that may take a while.

Nick said...

Scarlet and Jean: Well, what can I say? You and Z are all pretty astute so maybe you're right. A pity the article doesn't have any comments, so we could see what other people think. Maybe my spoof-detector needs servicing?

Nick said...

Jean and Scarlet: There IS a comments section. I've skimmed through quite a lot of them, and they're all taking the article as a serious opinion rather than a piss-take.

Ursula said...

Just read all the comments on your post and followed Jean's link to the actual article. Tongue-in-cheek? Not really. Maybe in part an amusing read but, like you, I can't help feeling she actually means what she says. And she wouldn't be the first one. That whole style of writing, meant to be "humourous" in its flippancy, is just self indulgent "ain't I funny" fawning of oneself. As a genre it gets a little tiring.

By the way there now ARE comments - maybe they weren't switched on when you read the article. One of the more sarky ones (and a lot of them are very critical of the author), one that did made me laugh out loud: "Yeah, and incontinence is a plus, too." Wonder what sort of "hilarious" spin the author might put on that one.

Anyway, Nick, fact is, and it is a fact, the moment people call themselves "eccentric" (regardless of their age) is the moment I groan because it's so contrived, so "look at me, ain't I just different and so cute with it". A true eccentric doesn't know he/she is one. That's their charm.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Yes, I've seen the comments now and like you, I didn't see any that thought she was tongue in cheek. The rudeness and self-absorption seem real enough to me.

Eccentrics may not think of themselves as eccentric, but you can certainly recognise one pretty quickly. And I don't think it's contrived to declare that I'm mildly eccentric myself. As I'm sure some of my visitors would agree.

Cheerful Monk said...

Just another example of the variety of human experience. Fascinating stuff.

Jean

Nick said...

Jean: Indeed. All human life is there, as the News of The World used to say.

CheerfulMonk said...

Thanks for mentioning the comments. Two of my favorites are


"Agree and it just gets better and better. At 88 I am amazed at how my requirements as a mother, grandmother, friend, citizen, are spiralling downwards and I can please myself. Spending a whole day gardening would have been a hedonistic dream twenty years ago but only the weather stops me now. I stopped my volunteering at 85 to have more time for myself and the result was an expansive view of what the world could offer when you are free to enjoy it."

and

"Lovely piece, Lynne! I'm 14 years behind you but discovering how true all this is - as long as one has enough money to survive on (not much in my case, but fingers are always crossed). What has struck me is just how KIND most people are when you are old, and then you can be kind and grateful in return, which makes the world just that little bit nicer in the face of so much nastiness 'out there'."

Andy and I have noticed how nice people are to us, even when we don't ask or need help. It gives us a chance to be kind and grateful in return and make our little corner of the world a bit friendlier.

And then there's the fellow who talked about his father:

"On my father's 75th birthday he hiked, on his own and in less than 24 hours, from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and back! That was 41.8 miles of steep dirt trail hiking with 21,400 feet of vertical change. He had to hike through the night with one of those electric flashlights that attach to a band on your head, it the pitch darkness bats were attracted to the insects that were attracted to the light and he had to shoo them away from his face; at one point in the darkness some small rocks fell upon him from the high cliffs above, his first thought was that large rocks were soon to follow right behind those small ones."

What an example that not all old people are doddering and grumpy old fools. The father (now 79)also volunteers at the Grand Canyon to help the tourists.

Nick said...

Jean: Great stories. I'm constantly amazed at the wonderful adventurousness of people much older than me. There's no need to fester on the sofa complaining your life is over.

Jenny Woolf said...

Sounds like she was joking to me, or at least half joking. Surely it must be natural to get less bothered about certain things when you are older and less bothered about others. After all I am not that bothered now about the things that preoccupied me when I was 15, or 5, so why shouldn't it be like that at the other end of life?

Nick said...

Jenny: Oh, I find I'm just as concerned about some things as I was when I was young - like war and poverty. Probably more concerned because I'm more aware of how big the problems are and how urgent it is to solve them.

joared said...

There’s an element of truth in some of those as i do sometimes indulge myself by sleeping in. I have even more time to focus on what’s going on in the world — feel a responsibility to help positively influence matters for future generations, so that one is way off base for me. Others don’t reflect my perspective— most of the time — but once in a while I may get a little cantankerous.

nick said...

Joared: I also want to improve things for future generations, but I'm up against an indifferent government that doesn't care two hoots that the younger generation is much worse off than we oldies.