THE ART OF GETTING OLD
Quite recently the Queen is quoted as having said, ‘You are as old as you feel.’ Judging by her recent cancellations of attendance at events, it is evident she is at last beginning to feel a bit older, and no wonder! Who else could do all she does at the age of 95. I certainly could not. I am already using a stick and could not do without it. But, I do agree with her statement, only with a slight proviso. I find these days the situation can change rapidly. One day you wake up feeling sprightly and young, and the next, you feel ancient and full of aches and pains. So you have to plan your days accordingly. Having now reached 80, I have come to the conclusion that the best way of living out my old age is never to allow myself to feel pressurised. I was always well aware of the endless pressures that were put upon the young, particularly girls – being told how to look, how to dress etc. etc. But until I moved into the ‘autumn of my life’ I never realised that similar pressures were put upon the elderly. Well meaning people seem only too keen to tell us the amount of exercise we should take, what foods we should eat, or not eat, how to keep fit etc. etc.. And there are aged persons who also put the pressure on . Daily we read about 96 year olds hurling themselves out of planes, or doing 3 marathons in succession, or hiking their way across Siberia and we constantly see advertisements showing them pounding away on their exercise machines. Well good on them, but quite frankly I don’t want to feel I have to compete with these fine specimens. I will happily leave that sort of thing to those of younger years. My advice, which I will impart to my children and grandchildren – and now to anyone who reads this – is to live by a regime that suits YOU. Everyone has their limits and it should never be the case that you feel forced or shamed into going beyond them. Mind you, it is very easy to become a trifle complacent and fall into lazy habits. Lockdown gave us every excuse to lead idle and static lives when we weren’t allowed out. I had the added excuse of two operations on my ankle, which made it difficult to go out for walks even when we were able to do so. Of course it is only too easy to fall into bad habits. Added to this I have been deep into writing the third book of my Rawlings Trilogy, which provides me with a good reason for not rushing around. However, with some reluctance I am now pushing myself to take a little daily exercise, even if it is only a totter round Putney Common or a quick swim at the local leisure centre. Physical exhaustion definitely helps if you suffer from insomnia.
Apparently, there is a new phenomena called HOGO, which stands for Hassle Of Going Out, the excuse not to do so. I am afraid I have succumbed to this. I love to go out in the daytime, for lunches to see friends, or even to a Gallery or Concert, but with the days closing in, I like to settle in for the night, listen to music or watch an old film. So I do avoid HOGO. I would have to add to this HOGA, Hassle of Going Abroad. It will be a while before I am tempted. I find most forms of travel exhausting and the idea of airports, customs, immigration, luggage hall waits, etc. etc. hold no pleasure for me. On top of this there is all the added paper work now with endless forms to fill in because of Vaccinations and Covid Tests. I am sure before long I will yearn for the enlivening sun of the Mediterranean, but for now I am happy to let others undertake the ordeal of actually getting there.
There are certain things about getting older that I have noticed in myself. I find I have an increasingly short fuse for things which in my younger days I would have tolerated. For instance, being told you are 12th in the queue and having to listen to some distorted music for half an hour while you wait to have your call answered frankly drives me mad. I am also less tolerant of ‘trivial chatter and idle gossip’ either on the telephone or in company. I dislike being bored and try and avoid it as far as possible. It sounds horribly selfish but I love the freedom of being able to live exactly the way I want to. In fact this time of life would be perfect if it weren’t for the fact that like an old car various parts are beginning to wear out and few of us manage to live without some degree of pain.
If any one has any observations on the above – I should love to hear them.
Meanwhile enjoy November. The Festive Season is almost upon us.