If you like writing, and I have to accept that for some people it’s not their bag of tricks, don’t you just love it when you dump all those relevant thoughts that have been running around inside your head, effortlessly and with delight, onto some medium or other – and for me this has become my iPad in preference to using pen and ink? And you sit back and scan what you’ve written, somewhat pleased with yourself (see note below), thinking you’ll add to it over a few days or weeks, maybe rephrase a little here or there. And then don’t you just hate it when you inadvertently delete it? And you don’t realise you’ve done so for a day or two, when you want to add that little bit …… but you can’t find it! And you tear your hair out wondering what happened, how could I be so stupid, how could I retrieve it, ……. and then you conclude you have to start again?
So here I am starting again …. but in the meantime Robert Crampton, writing in The Times, shared thoughts similar to those in my head with his readers, so maybe it’s good to pause occasionally! Crampton wrote: “At 52, I’ve passed the stage of thinking I’m immortal, but am yet to concern myself with the details of my dotage. Yes, the issue is lurking, not too far over the horizon, but not so close that I can take current advice remotely seriously. I’m far more bothered about not going bald (all tickety-boo so far, touch wood) and sustaining an erection (or securing swift, cheap, legal access to Viagra).” And this has occurred to him at 52? Good grief …… this is hardly middle-aged in my book. Of course the chance of my becoming bald is as likely as our discovering the moon really is made of Gorgonzola; and any comment on the latter would be too much information!
Life is endless, limitless, horizons go on forever …….. until you understand it isn’t and they don’t. Not sure exactly when this particular thought started bubbling to the surface of my brain, but maybe in the last few weeks of 2016, when I guess I was subconsciously reviewing the year …… and in my case a period of real highs and lows …… I found myself thinking about the finality of life and taking it rather personally! I have always taken a very positive view on my existence and tried, in every thing I’ve done, to inject that positivity into those within my compass, infect even! Well, I hope so! What triggered this rather morbid thought? Maybe a news item of an enormous future transport infrastructure project whose completion I might not witness or maybe a simple run-list of those of my friends whose lives have come to an end, often a little earlier than they or those they cared for had imagined.
But if I’m really honest with myself, it was probably the start of a new personal decade that had something to do with it …… that and the little spots on the back of your hand, age spots, liver spots, sun spots ….. they just appear gradually without much of a by-your-leave…. and then you realise you’ve got quite a few, and you remember them on your mother’s hands, those and the increasingly noticeable veins, darker in colour. Signs of ageing huh? No, not me, I’m indestructible, I’m going on for ever and …….. er! no you’re not, you might buck the bell shaped standard distribution and come out the far side of the actuarial life expectancy mid point …. but sooner or later…… Me? I’ve got too much still to do, still to enjoy, still to experience …… I want to travel on the HS2 (Britain’s High Speed rail link that may open around 2026 for phase one and phase two 2032). I want to keep up with developments that the increasingly rapid pace of change through the application of digital technology can produce, I want to ………
When I was younger I just got up and completed the three ‘s’s (s ………., shaved and shampoo’d (you can guess the first!) …… and went off to work. Now additionally I have to take some pills ……… pills for this and pills for that, ‘but at your age you should certainly take Q10, multivitamins galore and, if you can afford it, extract of Amazonian Frog and ……..” “Afford it?” The irony is you stop earning money and suddenly your bills go up because you’re advised to take supplements! I used to watch Michael Douglas films; now I tend to be drawn to Michael Mosely documentaries about statins or heathy eating or the history of pain relief.
Not a great ‘user’ of Facebook (probably a little passé already? OK! I get it) I do occasionally post a photo or three, and skim the postings of others of my ‘friends’. “Good grief! Haven’t seen him/her for twenty years; they look old.” But it’s just the process of ageing. I remember a film where an old lady told her granddaughter: “I have always thought of myself as 17, but the other day I looked in the bathroom mirror and this wrinkled old face looked back at me. Where did my life go? Make the most of it …… seize the day!” Surprisingly, a few weeks ago it was announced that life expectancy in Scotland had actually fallen, which is quite a shock after decades of increasing: “live to 100?” – maybe not! And of course there is virtually nothing that you or I can do about it. I say ‘virtually’ because we all believe if we eat healthily, exercise moderately, drink alcohol occasionally, and don’t smoke we’ll all live cancer-free and heart-attack free; and that is definitely not the case! Some of course never exercise, never eat healthily, smoke and drink to excess ….. and live to 100! Or George Michael who died of ‘natural causes’ according to the coroner at 53; a little liver damage, a little disease here and there, maybe, but 53! Eek!. Who said life was fair?
I wrote in PC 55 (Nov 2015) about male waistlines and the advance of ‘middle aged spread’. Well I think I can do the ‘spread’ quite well although I do not accept that the ‘middle age’ moniker is appropriate. Then there’s that delightful quote from Groucho Marx, his take on the adage ‘you’re only as old as you feel’: “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.” So in my case I’m ……..
Then you go away …… in our case off to SE Asia and beyond …… and all the personal introspection is erased by the visible onslaught and audio excitement of somewhere different …….. change of scene, change of pace being that very invigorating drug that enlivens our lives. That, and love.
Richard 14th March 2017
PS Robert Crampton finished his article by saying, “in terms of happiness, 60-plus, I’ll settle for being above ground.” Nice turn of phrase huh. Except of course if you are Jewish, when you would hope to remain above ground in this life and the next.
Note: Being a real optimist, I scribble that I’m ‘pleased’ with what I’ve written. If I had simply said that I wasn’t pleased there would be no point in saying it, as it’s a negative …… and emotionally uplifting as a wet brown paper bag. Know what I mean?