AGE IS BUT A NUMBER! | Blogging a dead horse

Blogging a dead horse

Is a barrel of naked monkeys more fun than a barrel of hairy ones?


It's my birthdaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! Lawrence Gray tries to see the positive side of having one foot in the grave.

I hate it when people say dumb things like "Age Is But A Number!" Well, it is doing a number on me and I am now supposed to be wise. Though I can't say I've noticed.


As my geriatric era approaches, the following is probably as wise a statement as I can conjure up, which isn't much.

Drum roll…

As a child, be a child. As a teenager, go for it. As a young adult, use all that energy, hope, rage, and delight at discovering the world as your own person. And when you are in your thirties, build those families, make your children happy and delighted as much by the rain and snow as the sunshine. And in your forties relish the power, the risk taking, the deep knowledge that you might have acquired or are seeking. And in your fifties exercise what power you may have accumulated with zeal and authority to make the world better.

What is considered "better" though, is endlessly debatable. And what seems wise and eminently agreeable, always gets bogged down in inconvenient practicalities. Wise words are usually exposed as empty, especially if you have no power.

I guess that's why people vote for the likes of Trump and Boris or run riot burning everything down. It is the revenge of people who fear the system is rigged against them. If history teaches us anything, it teaches that every time new technologies have illuminated the dissatisfactions of a wider range of people, there has been a need for institutional reform.

So much for great thoughts!

And now I'm well into my sixties, and closer to seventy than I ever thought I would be. This is an unimaginable age. My grandparents at this age seemed like people from a different planet. They were historical artefacts who had been through two world wars. They were born in a horse drawn age and never went on an aeroplane and were retired and out of the game, which is probably my greatest fear. My childhood wasn't exactly horse drawn, but it was iPhoneless therefore, I too am looking at that "obsolete" label that all too many of my laptop computers now have. I'm thinking, is that what my serial number will pull up if I google it?

As a child I could not believe how anyone could be as old as my Grandparents and although I knew I too would be one day, it was so far away as to be unimaginable. And now here I am. I don't think I appear to be as old as they appeared to me, though perhaps they too thought they were not as old as they appeared to be to me.

But they did not have the medical care that I have had. They would not have had check ups for conditions that can cripple you if left without treatment. They lived into their nineties but they had walking sticks, bad eyesight, and as my grandfather complained, were "reet stalled!" Yes, they even spoke differently! But I am but a pill away from such issues. This year I had a problem with my leg and I could barely get in and out of the car. Suddenly I was old, worse than old, decrepit, feeble, a broken man! A quick dose of steroids and bang, I was back up and running and thinking, hey, I've things to do, places to go, people to see! But I am a mere damaged tendon away from decrepitude!


The three score years and ten of Biblical life, are nearly done and the modern world does not really have much of a role for people of my generation. Unless I'm up in the mountains with a big white beard, surrounded by my boys and armed to the teeth… well, as many teeth as the few enclaves of the Patriarchy sport, which has never been many. But I was in training for it at one point in post war Britain when we thought the Russians, or was it the Red Indians, or The Vikings, were coming.


All the problems of the planet, of previous political screw ups, misconceived social programmes, are laid at my door, as a white, anglo-saxon, male. Let me just say, it is not all my fault! I have done my best to save the planet, undermine corrupt elites, and spread joy, enlightenment, and something or other. I mean, most of my life I have tried to find out what's going on and why I felt so grumpy and dissatisfied about it all and failed miserably but I put it out there. And still do for that matter.


But may I add that being born an Englishman is still something of a privileged position to be in, as there is a cultural perspective and attitude that makes us function rather well as individuals if not as a political entity anymore. The world still needs to learn English, but I would throw in Mandarin now as a must-learn language. But those values of tolerance, fairness, honesty and initiative that the English at least give lip service to, are not to be dismissed. There may be other virtues extolled by other cultures such as hard work and hospitality though none of these things should be mutually exclusive! And I am not too sure hard work is much of a virtue if a flick of a switch could do it not only easier but better. But when push comes to shove, who would not rather take their chances with a culture that produced a game that extolled the virtues of "the benefit of the doubt." Everything else is, well, just not Cricket!

Now you may say, "
oh no, look at all those really old geezers who still run things! And the Queen of England is well, pushing a hundred, so what are you complaining about?!! You lot, you old white men, have it all sewn up between you."

Yeah yeah yeah. You try hiring a car after you hit seventy. You start looking at health insurance to cover those injections you might need to just get you up in the morning. And whereas Joe Biden might be the next President, the bookmakers are taking bets on whether he will make it to the next election. If you are not around tomorrow, why should anyone listen to you today?

The pleasures of schadenfreude for the elderly comes as one sees the younger generation screw up everything, as of course they will if anything that appears on Tik Tok is anything to go by. And they too will become old whereupon they will learn the truth. Whatever that is. I have no idea.


But no, I say! I am not old! I am vintage! And I remember making fun of my parents as they hit seventy. And then eighty, though my mother began to twitch at such jokes. And then getting a bit disconcerted as they hit their nineties and were obviously not enjoying the experience. "Do not get old," my father kept saying. And my sister and I responded with how much better than the alternative that it was. And of course, I kind of thought that some of the issues of their old age were in someway their own fault and if only they just pulled themselves together!

If one has reached any form of wisdom, it is in the knowledge that pulling yourself together is sometimes just not possible. All one can do is not be a nuisance…

Damn that sounds like another piece of dubious wisdom that comes with age. I can hear my grandmother and my mother complaining about how they did not want to be a nuisance and of course, becoming a nuisance because of it.

Back in Victorian times the "invalid" relative often had nothing but emotional blackmail as their one pleasure in life. It gave them power, especially if they had some money to pass on to their favourites. One could be old and dying for decades in that society. Now one laughs at old family stories of such people and we believe nobody need be like that nowadays because we are young forever and 60 is the new 40!

We aren't though and it isn't.

I have no idea how one can deal with that fact, other than to try and ignore it. A friend of mine who is on the green side of things with a distaste for non-organic foods, has not given up meat because he thinks that too is unnatural, and he believes that as long as the beasts we devour only have one bad day, it is kind of OK; which does seem to be the manner in which I, if nobody else, am trying to approach this ageing thing.

When the bad day comes, one hopes there is sufficient morphine to make it pass without too much irritation. I suspect to get to that day, quite a lot of alcohol will be required. And of course, one does not want to be a nuisance… Oh no! Damn it! Perhaps I should be a nuisance! Perhaps that is what I should be in my dotage, a damned nuisance!


So there you have the wisdom of age. One realises one knows nothing. That plans go awry. That stuff goes on regardless. And, it doesn't really matter in the end anyway. Oh, and we all go the way of the dinosaurs. But before then there is Netflix, Moet Chandon, Peanut Butter, Yoga Pants… It's the little things in life, like lacy thongs on nubile over twenties and under forties for instance, that somehow keep things ticking over. I could go on, and intend to do so even as my head is increasingly choking on the dust shaken up by half faded re-runs of past events…


Or was that my over sixties wife beating me about the head? Well, if you want to wear a thong, who am I to stop you? But I bet you're telling me what a pain in the butt it is after about ten seconds! And listen, I'm trying to put a positive spin on things here! I'm really trying…