It’s International Day of Older Persons soon (Sunday, 1 October) and we thought we’d mix it up a bit this year and ask Tony Holmes the renowned novelist, humourist, limericist: an “older” person, from Cornwall to write a special piece loosely connected to this year’s theme: “Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.” 🌍👵👴🏻
Tony rose to the challenge, and I’m sure you’ll agree that his post, which follows, is very amusing but may hit a raw nerve or two…!
If you’d like to read one of Tony’s books, you can download them from Amazon.
When Are You Old?
Do you feel old? No? Me neither.
So, tell me this: When do we become old?
Officially, it’s when we become eligible for our pensions, you would think? Well, yes – and no. “For practical and administrative purposes,” as one article put it, 60 – 65 is when old-age sets in, a ‘fact’ confirmed by the United Nations and World Health Organisation, both of whom hold that in most countries, old starts at sixty, though they cover their backsides with statements like, “Old age cannot be universally defined as it is context-sensitive.” (Are you feeling context-sensitive? I’m reserving judgement.)
The Encyclopaedia Britannica has some uplifting things to say re the aging process, and speaks in terms of ‘relative potencies past, present, and future altered as the individual increasingly directs effort to the process of reminiscence and recollection of the past, rather than anticipation of the future.’ And that’s just middle age they’re talking about! (I shall spare you their observations on the topic in hand as they may have an adverse effect on your blood pressure, or one of your other relevant factors.)
If you Google – you really should, you know, and Tap Into IT are ready, willing and waiting to help you – you’ll will discover that ‘old’ is a hot topic, owing, primarily, to the fact that our numbers have greatly increased in recent years, a direct result of the fact that we seem determined to hang in there a lot longer. (Yes, it’s all driven by how much we’re costing.) Wrinklies can – and do – lead full lives these days – no, I’m not going into details. Behave! That still doesn’t answer the burning question, though, does it? When do we actually become old – and will be know?
There are signs in the daily round. Little hints that life dropsalong the way. Scene: You have decided to sign with a new dentist and, inevitably, you must complete the online form. (Yes, this is another “Tap Into IT” prompt.) Name, address, etc, etc, and then your date of birth. Day, no problem; month, a doddle; but what’s this? Year! You scroll and scroll – something you learned to do with “Tap Into IT” – but eek! You’re almost at the end of the list. How did that happen?
You take a moment, to recover, and then complete the form. You receive notification, by email, of your first examination, and duly arrive on the day and time appointed. You are collected by a nurse who, you are certain, was only moments before sucking her thumb whilst clutching her security blanket and stroking her nose. She ushers you into the surgery and waiting to greet you is a stripling of a lad who, to your expert eye, is still suffering the effects of severe nappy rash. How can this be …? The unsolicited memory test is another of Life’s wheezes.
Scene: You have successfully found your way – without the aid of Sat Nav, I might add – to, what, for you, is a new location, and not only have you beaten its convoluted one-way system, you have also managed to find the car park. You choose your space and, triumphant, you stroll off – I say stroll, more an undignified hobble, as your joints have seized up during the journey – in search of the parking ticket machine. (Age has brought wisdom. You don’t dare risk a parking fine.) It is not until you find it, tucked away out of sight, on the far side of the car park, that you discover that you must pass an on the spot memory test before being allowed to pay and display – and under pressure, too! (A queue is forming behind you.) You bend low to squint at the miniscule keys of the keypad and stab in hope, but then doubt assails you. Is it DXV or XVD? Pride now demands that you get it right and you turn around to read the number plate. Two things occur at this point.
The first is that you can’t remember where you parked the car, and the second, that even if you could, at this distance it would be a fuzzy blob because you didn’t think to bring your glasses with you. A sheepish grin, by way of apology to the growing crowd and you set off in search of your vehicle. On a positive note, the trek to the meter oiled the joints, and you are now fairly loping along. Having found the car, you beat the registration number into the noggin and start back, only to be ambushed by doubt –again – and have to turn back to check and recheck – three times. Finally underway, reciting the number, like a Buddhist mantra, with every step, you make it to the meter, memory intact, and make the purchase. Phew! (I dread to think what things will be like when I really am old.)
© Anthony Holmes 23/09/2023
(If you’d like to read one of Tony’s books, you can download them from Amazon).
PS. I collect quotes, and these are some of my favourites on old age.
“If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” Anonymous
“I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.” Bob Hope
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns
“Old age is not for sissies.” Bette Davies
“Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” Anonymous
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. Henry Ford
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” Mark Twain
“Time may be a great healer, but it is a lousy beautician.” Anonymous
“Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.” Will Rogers