I read this somewhere, a while back, don’t know who wrote it –
From birth to 18, to live life to the fullest, a girl needs good parents.
From 18 to 30 she needs good looks
From 30 to 50 she needs good luck
After 50, she needs good cash.
And STILL my Premium Bonds aren’t spitting out that increasingly essential million pound payout. In the not too distant past, one planned to fund life up to 70. Now life expectancy is over 80 and rising, and that’s downright scary. A couple of blogs ago I mooted a tontine but no-one seems yet to have forwarded it to the Chancellor. Tchah. I really don’t want to live to a great age if it involves being infirm, reliant on others, and / or poor. In fact between thee and me I don’t want to live to a great age at all. 10 or 20 extra years between 30 and 40, absolutely, but tacking them on at the end, eek, no. When vigour and agility and joy in living starts to diminish, who wants to still have a 20 year sentence to complete?
My daughter gets married next March and may produce a grandchild or two – she’s not promising anything. Maybe then I’d feel differently and want to stick around for as long as possible. Right now if the great cosmic bell rang in my ear and a voice intoned ‘we’ll get you to the wedding, but after that you’d better tidy the house every night before you go to bed because time’s nearly up’ I’d be pretty shaken but not devastated. In fact, sneakingly relieved. The definition of middle-aged keeps stretching, and I do both admire and wonder at people of 70-plus who call themselves middle aged. I’ve heard it said that middle age starts with the first mortgage. Does it end when that’s paid off? There’s another old saw – forties are the old age of youth. The fifties are the youth of old age.
Am I old? I worry about my finances, socialising gives me a headache, and I can’t run up a flight of stairs any more. I’ve never been great with names, but now I’m having occasional problems with faces, too. Sprinting for the train leaves dancing spots in front of my eyes. I’ve started getting ailments I never heard of, that I have to look up on the internet. Well, okay, just one, but it’s the thin end of the wedge. There are increasing streaks of silver in my hair – pretty soon I must choose between streaking or dyeing it, or just letting it pick its own colour. I’m seriously considering writing post-it notes to myself, to carry them from room to room, because it is so bloody irritating to forget what I was going for. Any day now someone will offer me their seat on the train and I won’t know whether to simper gratefully or be resentful. (Who am I kidding? Both.) It doesn’t help that as a weathered South African living amid the superb Scottish skins I already look ten years older than my contemporaries.
Bette Davis is quoted saying, at 70 plus, ‘old age isn’t for sissies’. At 10, I’d have dared anything rather than be called a sissy. Now, I’m wondering whether I’m up for the challenge. You’re as old as you feel. Today that makes me about 97. Tomorrow – who knows. How’s your day going?