Now, I realise that you might find this hard to believe, but my quality control is quite rigid: I write far more than I publish; I throw away far more than I use. Publishing three blogs a week has proved to be a little more challenging than I anticipated and I think, from time to time, in order to maintain quality, in the future I might find myself posting only twice a week – probably on Tuesday and Saturday. When that occurs, I will use the Thursday slot to repost some early blogs which, according to WordPress, were read only by myself and next door’s dog when they were originally posted. I worked hard on these early articles, so I hope that you don’t begrudge me giving them a second chance. Some of them are a little longer than current blogs, as I was originally posting only once a week, so I will try to warn you of that, giving you the opportunity to stoke up the fire, make yourself a steaming mug of chocolate and curl the dog around your feet – or, alternatively, don’t.
If you did, by some mischance, read them the first time around, and really don’t want to have to go through all that again, I apologise. I will flag them up for you and, as I said at the outset, I will still be posting my usual salmagundi of moans, ideas and observations (in honesty, mostly moans) at least twice a week. Anyway, today I intend to repost my very first blog, from 16th November 2018.
I hope this all works. As always, I would appreciate any observations you have to make along the way.
Mission Statement (1100 words)
I feel that I should begin my first blog with an explanation of what it is exactly that I intend to do over the next however long it is that I am given: it might give you an idea of whether you are going to bother with it, and it might help to remind me what it was I had started when I return to it after pouring a glass of red and half-eating a jam and peanut butter sandwich. My intention is to observe life through the eyes of an older person – I have no choice in this, I am one – and to lay what I have seen before you in such a manner that it might take your mind off the pre-paid funeral plan for a few minutes (unless, of course, you really want that free Parker pen). I do not intend it to be about getting old, but merely the product of a mind and body that is itself slipping inexorably downhill, gathering both speed and mass, clinging on to all the dignity it can muster whilst understanding that the inevitable pratfall into the dog-shit of life lays merely inches away. I do not intend to focus solely on the experience of being an older male, but being one, it might just go that way. Just think of it as a thousand words(ish) a week window into the soul. Actually, probably less a window into my soul and more a knot-hole into my psyche. I am aware that I cannot properly see life from the perspective of someone I am not. I try, believe me, I try, but almost inevitably just as soon as I think I have got this empathy thing licked, I unwittingly put my foot in it up to my ears and, having apologised for all I am worth, write myself a note to remind me not to make that mistake again… and then lose it…
There will be, I am sure, some nostalgic twaddle; some howling at the moon; some ‘how shit things used to be’; some ‘how shit things are now’; some ‘why can’t I remember what it is I wanted to say when I started this…?’ It is my hope that people of my age may be able to wring some scintilla of truth or recognition from it, whilst those younger people amongst you may regard it as some sort of instructional tract; providing nuggets of information that you may recall at apposite times when interacting with we vintage souls (and possibly mopping up after us).
We are all getting older. Life is a one way street and we are all heading into the same cul-de-sac. The people around you can erect speed bumps and you can apply the handbrake all you like, but in the end you’ll realise that the only sensible thing you can do is to floor the clutch and enjoy the scenery. And don’t think that science is going to save you. I’m certainly not going to argue with Einstein, if he says time-travel is possible, then I’m sure it must be… but I’ve seen the films: the Captains Kirk and Picard discovered, as did Marty McFly, that even when you travel back in time, you yourself remain the same age; still getting older. Wherever you sit on the space/time continuum, you plod on, just the same. Wherever you go, you become older just getting there. So, what could be the point of going back in time if everything around you got younger whilst you continued to plough on relentlessly through your allotted span? Very little – unless, of course you’ve got an unopened pack of smoked salmon that has gone beyond its sell-by date or your egg yolk isn’t runny enough…
We all claim that we don’t feel any different to how we felt twenty, thirty, forty years ago when, in fact, we are all that little bit weaker, slower and less able; incapable of stretching without farting. Getting older is not just about what you see, what you hear and feel, but what you do and how you do it. Do you wonder how Pooh and Eeyore cope with the associated problems of sagging kapok, slackened stitching and Christopher Robin’s animalistic grandchildren; how Sherlock Holmes copes with the diminution of a giant intellect; how James Bond copes with stress incontinence? I’ll look into it.
And age is not all about loss. Age also brings us gifts: the self-knowledge that we regularly mistake for wisdom. The ability to think ‘Actually, that is not what I would do, but, let’s be honest, what does it matter.’ The knowledge that you are not going to be hanged for wearing non-matching socks and that no-one will notice if you’re wearing your pants back to front may be liberating. I, myself, have heard the siren call of primary colour trousers and Velcro shoes, and like Odysseus, I am desperately clinging to the mast of sanity, attempting to resist them. To be honest, once you’ve passed 50, nobody takes a great deal of notice what you’re wearing. Wear what you have always worn and they’ll smile sweetly and enquire whether you have actually changed that cardi at all this year. Wear something different and they’ll think you’ve had a stroke. It is better to continually keep checking that you’ve remembered to zip up your fly than to wait for someone to tell you that you haven’t. Again…
Age will gift you an insatiable thirst for knowledge. All knowledge. A desire to learn all of the things you did not learn while you were capable of learning them. Infinite curiosity will keep you alive and vital and the desire to experience will drive you crazy. If you are physically capable of doing it, then do it. You may hate it, but at least you’ve tried it and you’ll never have to do it again – like eating oysters and drinking Saké, you’ll know better next time.
The accumulation of new hobbies becomes a hobby in itself. Never tried it? Give it a go. Immerse yourself; soak it up until you’re semi-proficient; pack it up; find something new. Don’t be put off by those who might say ‘You can’t do that’. They might be right, but bugger them frankly, give it a go anyway. If it doesn’t work, you can laugh about it over a super-strength gin and tonic and spit an olive stone at the back of their neck when they’re not looking.
Anyway, that’s what I’m going to do. Join me. If I cannot persuade you to laugh in the face of danger then at least I might encourage you to snigger in the ear’ole of adversity.