‘Getting old: Not all good, but not too bad either’

May 13, 2021
The good, the bad and the ugly of ageing. Source: Getting Images

Getting old can be quite pleasant, and getting old can be quite unpleasant! No, I’m not going gaga in my old age, but that just about sums up how I felt about getting into my 70s and 80s.

There are mornings when I wake up, all bright and cheerful, leap immediately out of bed, take a quick shower, and have just about all I had planned for the day done, by 10:30am! Then there are the mornings when I wake up, extremely cosy under the bedclothes, feeling as if my head is full of cotton wool. And it takes just about all the energy I possess, just to get out of the bed, let alone wander out to the bathroom for a shower.

I’m sure there are those who can relate.

Isn’t it nice, on a warm spring morning, to sit out on the verandah, a freshly brewed cup of coffee in one hand and a piece of well buttered toast in the other, soaking up the free energy being supplied by a friendly sun, designed by nature to loosen those slightly arthritic muscles in our hands and knees. Try sitting on one of those hard benches in a bus shelter, waiting for a ride to arrive — almost instantly you feel those uncomfortable areas in your lower back, your knees and the back of your neck. Like me, you might wriggle about a bit, trying to find a comfort spot somewhere on your bum, the place which, once found, seems to ease all the other hurts.

Once you get beyond the age of 70 or so, it’s very pleasant to sit on a quiet park bench (soaking up some of that valuable sunshine again), with a couple of like-minded, like-aged people, discussing, if you can recall, what you’ve done and, because you have much clearer memories of it, reminiscing about what you did 45 years ago. It’s very pleasant, something you can enjoy doing all afternoon, not necessarily chatting all the time, but sometimes just sitting there.

On the other hand, some (younger) people start treating you differently. It’s almost as if you had a sign mounted on your forehead, saying “I’m an old person and fairly delicate, please treat me nicely — and help me stand up if you find me sitting down”. They tend to want to touch you quite a lot too. They seem to think you’re some sort of spiritual vacuum cleaner and if they touch you, you’ll suck all the impending old age out of them, and carry their burden instead. Their attention can be quite irritating sometimes, which is probably how the phase ‘grumpy old buggers’ was coined.

I used to hate the photos in foodie magazines, and the chefs on the TV, both of which extoled the beauty of ‘nouvelle cuisine’, works of art in food, designed to feast the eye as well as the body.

“How on Earth could anyone survive on meals as small as that?” I used to ask my wife, Jacqui.

You know the sort of thing I’m talking about, I’m sure — a piece of fillet steak about the size of a pullet’s egg, sitting on top of a dessert-spoon-full of mashed potato, livened up with several kinds of herbs and surrounded by four green beans, one small carrot and some spinach, while a tiny Yorkshire pudding sits balanced on top of the lot, everything encircled by a drizzle of some exotic sauce.

“Who the hell could live on food like that?” I used to squawk! But now, it’s a different story!

I’m still not too keen on all the fancy nouvelle cuisine, but now that I don’t get as much exercise as I used to enjoy when I was young and active, I find I just don’t need or want all those great plates, full of roast sirloin and four or five vege, all swimming in lovely rich beef gravy — my stomach just won’t accept it. Sadly though, even with the reduced diet, I still can’t seem to get my weight down at all!

I suppose it’s all a matter of attitude. Enjoy the bits that suit you and try, as much as possible, to ignore the parts that either hurt, exhaust or irritate you. Maybe it’ll just might help me live a little longer!

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