Time travels faster as you get older.
It seems to take ages to get to be 10 years old – and longer still to reach 20. After that, time gains momentum and starts plummeting forward in a horrifying manner. You realise you are no longer exactly sure of your age. If people ask, you are likely to err a couple of years either way – accidentally. Especially after you hit horrible things starting with 4, 5, 6 or bigger. You have to try to remember the year you were born – and count backwards. Assuming you remember how to count.
The scary thing is, you don’t feel any different inside. People look at you and think, ‘old bag’. They wonder why you are still wearing stupid hair elastics with plastic fruit on them. They wonder why you have a leather thong around your neck with PEACE on it, and a Pooh Bear lunchbox.
The Warrior Queen complained to Dad when they were doing the grocery chopping recently, after battling her way around the Zimmer frames in the fruit and veg section. She said, ‘Why can’t all the old people do their shopping some other time?’
‘But YOU’RE an old person,’ he told her. She hadn’t realised. Neither had the people with the Zimmer frames.
Inside, you feel perfectly fine. If there weren’t any mirrors, you could live blissfully with the illusion hair elastics with plastic pineapples still suited you. There are other little signs, however, for those of us without mirrors. Tradesmen don’t call you ‘love’ anymore – they call you ‘missus’. Behind your back they call you, ‘that fat old tart with the busted Hoovermatic’. You can safely walk past building sites. Nobody will call out or whistle. If they are a decent class of builder they might even climb down from the scaffolding and help you across the road.
The contents of your shopping trolley are also a dead giveaway. High fibre cereal, indigestion tablets (economy sized six-pack) and incontinence pads take the place of whatever fun things you used to buy. There are probably a lot of chocolate biscuits, too. These are to help you forget, though it’s likely you don’t remember anyway.
A few weeks ago I went to a gathering of past colleagues. We realised afterwards we’d spent four or five hours discussing our ailments.
‘I sound just like my mother,’ one said with amazement. And it’s true. You notice how many times you say, ‘… in MY day …’ to your kids. You notice your kids are taller than you and have chest hair. Even the girls. You realise you hate their music and it’s too loud. They tell you things a million times and get frustrated because they have to KEEP telling you and you don’t remember they told you before.
There are varicose veins sprawling all over your legs like steroid-boosted spiderwebs. Your chins are dangling down over your chest, which is dangling over your knees. You start buying Cottontail knickers which come up to your waist in a hysterical attempt to cover your buttocks. You buy them in beige. With support panels even. And you don’t even notice you’re doing it.
You seriously consider buying a Volvo. It’ll be safer. Especially if you wear a canvas hat whilst driving it.
But things start getting really creepy when you realise you are actually interested in the Royal Family. When you put your abseiling gear in the classifieds and start eyeing off the lawn bowls. When it’s safer to make porridge than risk your teeth on Nutrigrain.
How much easier it would be if you could live your life backwards – start at the end and go back to being a baby again. You could look forward to being cute, and people would like you more and more as you got younger.
What the rest of society doesn’t realise is how smart we get with age. How much knowledge is inside our wrinkly, grey old heads. We have the intelligence to be aware if you wear hair elastics with plastic fruit on them, you’ll feel bloody marvellous.
That’s why I have a whole drawer full.