A Hazy Shade of Winter

I recently went to see the movie ‘Quartet’ with three of my girlfriends. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about aging. What we lose and what we gain. In this case the characters live in a beautiful English house. Large rooms decorated in expensive wallpapers and golden fabrics. It wasn’t dark with faulty plumbing. Art works graced the walls.

The house itself is Cliveden. The exterior anyway, I’m not sure if the interior is as I haven’t visited it. But some aging Poms (of which I am one) will remember the scandal in the early sixties, or at least the nineties film about it, when John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War met Christine Keeler at a house party at Cliveden. Christine was, among other things, accused of having an affair with a Russian Spy. Heady stuff. So much more steamy and exotic than John Major’s affair with Edwina Curry.

Scarily you can take the ‘Profumo Affair Break’ at Cliveden. You get to experience a mini-break Bridget Jones style, in a beautiful house, at the same time as finding out all the ins and outs of the scandal.

But I digress, which is probably the point. I’m talking about aging and what it does to our minds and bodies. Our attention wanders, we lose our thread, we find the remote control in the fridge. When we gather in groups we no longer discuss sex or successes. We compare medications and illnesses but just as competitively as we had previously discussed who was doing what to whom and who’d got a promotion, a new car, a filo-fax. Yes, I am that old. A friend of a friend recently received one of those pill boxes with days of the week on it from her husband. On Valentines Day.

I no longer climb mountains, not that I did that very often. I could usually be found at the ‘Bottom of the Mountain’ café, even in my thirties. But now I am not too sure-footed. The last time I walked in Noosa National Park I tripped over a tree root and did a wonderful impression of Norman Wisdom, arms flailing, legs stumbling forwards. And trampolining is out. If I was a horse I would be shot. And finish up in a frozen meal somewhere no doubt. To be eaten on a tray in front of the telly, by an old lady watching murder mysteries. Oh the irony.

Grey hairs, creaky hips, frequent visits to the doctors. And to the toilet. Failing eyesight or having to walk back a couple of metres to read the bus timetable. Next it’ll be magnifying glasses to do the crossword and cleaning your pipe out with the blunt end of pencil. In the words of Bette Davis, ‘Old age ain’t no place for sissies’.

And yet it does have its advantages. I can drink all the tea I like, as long as I check out the quickest route to the ladies. Afternoon naps, sometimes taken in the mornings. Finally nobody gives me a hard time about staying home on a Saturday night. Remember the old proverb:-
Old age though despised, is coveted by all.

The alternative is unthinkable. I heard the news today that an old friend, young in years, had died. A more gregarious, life loving person you could not meet. And although I hadn’t seen him in years, geography being what it is, I will miss his funny posts on facebook. There’s a new angel with a naughty face and red wings. This one’s for Richard.

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