For many young energetic people across the world the tribulations of the older generation are of little interest until time reels them in and they suddenly realise they are approaching the decrepitude they thought would never come. It’s happening to me. I find myself rapidly heading towards 60, which is kind of old, but not to someone who is 80.
Age is a strange thing, isn’t it? It is nice to grow older and wiser, but not so good to grow slower and creakier. You can weigh up the benefits and disadvantages, but then you realise they all pale into insignificance beside the fact that at any age from 45 onwards, chances are you are closer to death than to your birth. What a happy thought.
In some countries like Spain the family unit tends to be more appreciative of older relatives and less likely to leave them lonely and uncared for when they most need support. The climate also helps elderly people get out more so that they can stay active. In cooler months the old men in Spain all seem venture out in brown trousers and a dark red pullover, topped off by a cloth cap. On formal occasions the same trousers can be teamed with a light beige jacket and a pork pie hat. Older Spanish ladies, meanwhile, wear what they want but reach a certain age at which it becomes mandatory to have their hair cut short, permed, and turned copper red. I saw a group of five elderly ladies chewing the fat on the promenade and they looked like unlikely sisters because they all had this same hairstyle. I wonder if when the time comes they go into the hairdresser and ask for ‘old lady hair, please’.
Having said that, I just passed a slow moving man in the street who cannot have been less than 85, and he was sporting a wavy reddish brunette hairpiece that appeared to be made of nylon. It would have looked better on a lady but ‘better’ is a relative term here. I have never seen a more obvious syrup in my life. And for any confused readers, syrup is slang for a wig. To check this just approach any rough Londoner sporting what looks like a hairpiece and ask him ‘is that a syrup, my good man?’ He will be delighted to tell you.
In Spain I have had old ladies sit down next to me on a park bench and persist in telling me their life story even though it was clear that my language skills weren’t up to the job of letting me understand a word they were saying. For them it was just good to have someone to talk to (or ‘at’), which was nice yet sad at the same time.
Most of us try to avoid getting older then wake up one day to find an old person looking back at them in the mirror. Now, time for a walk – where’s my beige jacket ?