Getting On – A Slight Return


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This was initially intended to be my first post, but as I had written ‘Mission Statement’ whilst attempting to get to grips with the processes associated with posting on WordPress, it became my second, published 17 November 2018 a day after the first. As with most of these early posts, it had been picked over for many days whilst I attempted to wrestle a joke from every line I could. Over the following weeks, as the blog progressed, it became somewhat looser in style and more personal, but I like this early post because it is exactly what I initially intended the blog to be and it illustrates how I saw myself fitting into the ‘community’ at that time.

Getting on is a little over 1100 words in length.

Getting On

I stand at the portal that will allow me entry into a new age of discovery. The doormen of Nirvana have found me to be on the list and have grudgingly agreed to let me in. There are many benefits to belonging to the club that I will shortly join: I can take tea and biscuits with my fellow sexagenarians in the designated café; I can board the bus to Rhyl with a half-empty suitcase and a clear conscience; Lord knows! I may eligible for a discount on a stair-lift or a sit-in bath. I have reached the age when I understand that I should always smile sweetly at the dentist, because to gnash my teeth at his suggestion that I need several long-haul holidays-worth of dental treatment is merely putting money in his already bulging pockets. I have attained the maturity that allows me to comprehend that the true joy of an April day by the east coast seaside cocooned within fourteen layers of thermal clothing to protect against the unseasonal scything on-shore breeze and draped in a slightly too small cagoule that herds the interminable arctic drizzle into the large drips that run around the rim of the hood before depositing themselves into the ever-swelling puddle on my crotch, is the knowledge that there is no point in doing it, other than knowing that I don’t have to do it – but, shit, while I can, I will. I have begun to appreciate the myriad joys of getting older. A whole new world of revelation has opened up before me. I have entered, in short, a second phase of enlightenment and realisation.

I have opened my mind to learning, although, truth be told, most of what I have learned is how little I know. My discoveries, such as they are, are modest – they are not of Newtonian proportions. What I have not discovered would generate a ‘to do’ list that could keep Isaac and his apple occupied for a very long time. I have not discovered, for instance, what makes me (or more appositely, they being on the bottom, Australians) stick to this globe of ours. I tend to adhere to the Velcro Theory. In fact, I find myself irresistibly drawn towards the flat earth theory, simply because I do not understand why, wherever I go in the world, I am always the right way up. Hold up a football and put something on the bottom of it; what happens? Yup. If the world is actually a sphere, what prevents the Australians falling off? Forget gravity. Gravity is everywhere. It can’t even hold my glass on the table after six pints. And also, if the world is a globe, how come all the water doesn’t flow to the bottom? Never thought that through did you Pythagoras?

Mind you, I must admit that physics was never one of my strengths. I can still recall the look on the face of my teacher when he read my test paper aloud to the class, with special emphasis on the question ‘What is resistance’, to which I had answered ‘Futile’. I thought I was being endearingly amusing. He thought I was being an arse. Guess who was correct? I would never discover a new continent, even if one were to exist, because that would almost certainly involve sailing off into the unknown and, quite frankly, I have enough trouble sailing off into the known – and only then when I have double-checked the catering arrangements. And as for finding a new planet, I can barely see the television in these contact lenses, let alone an infinitesimal blob at the far end of the universe. No, the things that I have learned are of a much more personal nature. I do not know if they will make a difference to the lives of others. I do not know if they were at any time unknown to others. What I am beginning to know, I think, is what everybody else has known all along.

I have discovered that stairs are arranged singly for a reason; there is nothing to be gained by ascending them two at a time. I know that escalators move so that you do not have to. I have learned that there are only two types of shoe; those that fit and those that look good: no single pair of shoes is ever able to meet both criteria. I have learned that rows of buttons are always to be fastened from the bottom in order to avoid having one left over at the end. I have learned that hats are for other people.

I have begun to understand that there is no point whatsoever in attempting to take a photograph with my mobile phone. Nobody is even faintly interested in a close-up of my nasal hair, nor do the staff of The Raj Palace want another silent call from me. I have grown to realise that I have lost the innate ability I once had to know instantly whether an acquaintance was older or younger than I. Everyone of my age looks so very old. I have begun to understand that no-one younger than me actually sees me as younger than I am. That the way I viewed people of my age when I was my daughter’s age is exactly the way that people of my daughter’s age now view me – eccentric; mildly amusing in a ‘let’s just humour him’ kind of way, but definitely to be kept at arm’s length. I have discovered that the only thing more annoying than a younger man in an extremely expensive car is an older man in an extremely expensive car. I have begun to realise that nobody ever gained anything from arguing (except, for some, a lucrative career). Stealth is the answer. Age gives one the time to wait and the insight to appreciate that there is absolutely no finer moment than the acutely timed ‘I warned you that would happen, but you never listen do you? Oh no. You always know best…’

I have also begun to understand that advancing age is not to be feared, it is to be embraced. Embraced for its ability to allow me clearer vision than sight. Embraced for its ability to grant me the realisation that what is right for me, may not be right for anybody else, but quite frankly, that I care even less than they do. Embraced for the realisation that my appreciation of the world around me is linked, incrementally, with the paucity of time that I have left to enjoy it. Embraced because I have no choice. Embraced because it makes me happy.

There is still no cure for the common birthday – John Glenn

A Little Fiction – You’ve Got A Geriatric Friend In Me


Toy Story 4 – general release (UK) 21st June.

“So, where we going this time?” asked Action Man. “Loft, car-boot or play school?”
“It says ‘Dump’ on the box,’ said the small knitted Elf as it scrambled back through the lid that was being held open by the ageing soldier. The one-time man of action looked startled (although the Elf was not able to see this as the military mannequin’s head had been reinserted backwards at a party some years ago and he had never been able to turn it back around since) but his voice remained steady.
“Dump?” he said. “Are you sure?”
“Certain,” said the Elf who had started to unfurl slowly as he hauled himself back over the lip of the box and was currently pulling on a severed leg that hovered some six inches below him.
“Nothing else,” the soldier persisted.
“It says ‘Made in China – Do Not Stack’ but I don’t think that’s relevant.”
In the silence that followed, Xylophone began a doleful rendition of The Funeral March, but had to stop when he reached his missing note.
The plastic infantryman stroked the ragged transfer scar on his cheek, popping his arm out of the shoulder joint as he did so, leaving it to hang dejectedly in the sleeve of his combat jacket.
“Would you like me to put that back for you?” said Elf.
“No point,” said the commando, sitting down heavily on a Jack-in-the-box, his reversed face being pressed tight against the cardboard wall.
“It might just be a mistake,” said Elf, tugging hard on a strand of wool in his attempt to retrieve his fast unravelling leg. “It might just be an old box that they’ve used for something else before.”
“Yes, like the last time they took all the old toys to the dump.”
“I suppose it had to come,” said a tag-along duck, whose tag-along ducklings had long since become detached and fledged. “We’re none of us what we were.”
“It’s alright for you,” said the Elf bitterly. “You’ve got rid of your kids, but you’re pretty much sound yourself.”
“And retro,” said the Clitter Clatter Caterpillar. “People don’t mind you having a wheel loose when you’re wood. Can just screw you a new one on. Doesn’t even matter if it leaves you waddling, being a duck and all. Doesn’t even matter if you abandoned your children.”
“They were cut from me,” shrieked the duck. “By that ginger girl from next door. Nothing I could do. She tied ‘em to the back of her Wibbly Wobbly Dog and wheeled them back home with her. I never heard from them again…” Her voice trailed away as only a wooden duck’s voice can…
“Yers, well, just saying,” said the Caterpillar. “It’s alright for you; you’re salvageable. Nail on a new wheel, quick lick of paint, some yummy mummy will pay twice the going rate with delight because you limp. Some of us,” he continued, surprised by his own sourness. “Some of us lose a wheel and it’s the end of the road. Clitter more than clatter and it’s a future full of yoghurt for me.”
“Once upon a t… Once upon a t… Once upon a t…” said the talking book from the bottom of the box.
“His battery leaked,” said Duck, quietly slipping the button to ‘mute’. “He doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going these days. I’m not sure he even knows the stories he’s meant to tell.”
“Well, if you want my opinion,” said a large, green, five-legged spider. “He’s the lucky one. Take his batteries out and he won’t have a clue what’s going on.”
“What does happen down at the dump?” asked Elf, who had by now given up on rescuing his leg and was slowly unpicking the features from his face.
“No-one knows,” said Action Man. “No-one has ever come back to tell the tale.”
In the silence that followed an inflatable frog sighed gently and his back leg deflated.
Caterpillar began a frantic search for his missing wheel, even though he knew that it had been eaten by the dog some months before.
“Looking back…” began Action Man.
“Which is all you can do,” interrupted a voice from the bottom of the box.
“Who said that?” demanded the soldier, leaping to his feet.
“It was me,” hissed a rubber snake from his position wound around Threadbare Ted’s head where he was held in place with a rubber band. “I wouldn’t want you to accuse me of speaking behind your back – although, of course, it is all that you can do…”
In the depths of the box somebody sniggered briefly. If the Taiwanese moulding had allowed, Action Man would have gnawed his lip. “Looking back,” he continued. “We have all had some good times.”
“Speak for yourself,” said the spider, who had found himself hidden in more knicker drawers than he cared to remember.
“Ok,” replied AM. “Maybe we are not, any of us, what we once were. Age has affected us all, but we still have value.” His voice swelled even as his detached arm slid slowly from his battle dress. “We still have much to offer.”
“He’s right,” said Xylophone. “I can still bang out a good tune, providing there are no G’s in it.”
“We all have to adapt,” said Caterpillar, wedging a small Lego wheel in to the space from where his own wheel had disappeared. He smiled triumphantly. The wheel fell off, as did one of his little spring antennae. The silence that followed was profound. All of the toys looked at themselves in quiet contemplation, suddenly aware that they were somehow less than they had once been: less clean, less functional, less complete, less use… Caterpillar stepped back, as only a many-wheeled caterpillar can, catching Talking Book’s switch as he fell. “We’re doomed,” he whispered. “Doomed.”
“… and they all lived happily ever after,” said Talking Book. “… and they all lived happily ever after…”

A Little Fiction – Winnie-the-Pooh and a Head Full of Kapok

A Little Fiction – OldenEye

A Little Fiction – The Later Cases of Sherlock Holmes: The Mystifying Instance of the Absent Footwear.