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Opinion: What I’ve Learnt About Ageing (and What I’m Leaving Behind)

Overall, I guess it is true that with age comes wisdom. That said, there are some other little surprises that age presents, too.

One of the great philosophers of our time (on reflection it might have been Debbie from Facebook who, incidentally, singlehandedly guided me through the pandemic – she knows things does Facebook Debbie!) said ‘with age comes wisdom’. I completely agree. That said, there are some other little surprises that age presents – some welcome, some not so.

On the one hand, I’m proud to say that I really am not one of those people who is worried about their age. What I am not appreciating, however, is the fact that with the ageing process a clumsier, more indecisive, less tolerant and more easily-distracted me seems to be emerging.

The inability to make decisions is getting painful. For instance, take my new hall console table. In my attempts to ‘tablescape’ (yes, this is actually a term – who knew), I suspect that I have leaned rather heavily on the opinion of my long-suffering school friend. In a fit of pique recently, she told me that she has more photos on her mobile of my console table than she does of her own children.

As for being clumsy, I’ve been fortunate in having only visited A&E once in my 57 years which involved the top of my finger, a new electric carving knife and a gammon joint. Some 30 years on it still haunts me… and I continue to struggle with the sight of cured pork.

Anyhow, it occurs to me that there are a few regular occurrences which will get me there again soon enough:

1. My assumption that all glass doors will open automatically for me (probably exacerbated by how distracted I am with the very grumpy, ageing blonde raging towards me and then the shock when I realise it’s me!).

2. A wheelie case-related incident. I trip over them in most airports (remember them!), tube stations, shopping centres, on escalators and don’t get me started on Christmas markets. The wheelie is out to get me for sure.

3. Aforementioned escalators. It can’t be too long before I take a tumble, likely taking a few unsuspecting commuters (again, remember them?), tourists (and them?) with me, as people have a habit of jumping out from standing on the right as I’m hurtling passed. I take no prisoners. Also… to those who just stand at the top of the escalators as soon as they get off and don’t move AND for those who get off the tube and do the same… please just don’t.

4. A Kindle related face injury. This might be a lucrative earner for my dentist and/or a good plastic surgeon. At least once a week, I read in bed with my Kindle above my face and wake just in time to find it hurtling its way down, thankfully so far, to the bedroom floor. One day it is not gonna be so pretty.

5. Being a Treadmill Diva. The only way I can get through my daily 5K at the gym is to imagine myself as Barbara Streisand at the Carnegie Hall (obvs), Mariah Carey at Caesars Palace or Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry. By the time I’m knocking out my encore, I am so absorbed in my big finale that I’m almost off the end of the belt. I may channel Sandra from Brotherhood of Man in future as I suspect she would be lower maintenance.

Whilst I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever been renowned for my tolerant nature, this has taken a dive in recent years. I can’t begin to explain how patronised I feel when anybody under the age of 20 addresses me as their ‘lovely. And don’t get me started on how many times I’m ‘blessed’ by a teenager without a sneeze in earshot.

Indecisiveness and intolerance have crept into my shopping habits, too. Am I the only one who rakes through the pineapples to pick out the prettiest one with the most attractive crowns – mmm, thought I might be.

On a recent stroll down one of my favourite London alleyways, South Molton Street, I had to do several Starsky & Hutch rolls to avoid the many people giving out freebies all aimed – allegedly – at holding back the years. Although hats off to the guy who was clearly annoyed with my constant refusals to let him help me take those 10 years off and shouted at me, ‘Well at least let me give you something for those eye bags then’. Maybe he’s nurturing a grudge and previously worked in one of the exclusive candle boutiques where I ask to smell every one and only when they have taken the last candle out of its box to let me take in the aroma, I still opt for the verbena…the first one I tried…and the only one I ever buy. Several dear friends now refuse to go into these shops with me.

Overall, I guess it is true that with age comes wisdom. So, all power to Facebook Debbie.

Maybe I just need to accept and embrace the clumsier, indecisive, intolerant me…and as for distraction, what was I saying…oh yes, as for distraction…sorry, just lost my thread…the new White Company Catalogue has just dropped through the letterbox. Off I go.

By Sue Turbutt