Old people are not cool, right? They are wrinkly and crabby, they wear colourless clothes that fit them badly, they are shabby, they slobber, they are grumpy and mean and they got a touch of the spleen.
Well folks, prepare to be surprised. That old media cliche is no more. There is a new generation of old people out there who are confounding all expectations. This was the generation which invented the sixties. They grooved and they danced and they revolted and marched and they are still out there marching and demanding and getting arrested. This is the generation that has decided that it is cool to be cool, and they succeeded once, turning the depressive post war generation into a marketing extravaganza and getting a stagnant economy moving again. Now they are turning those skills on to themselves. Yoga rooms and therapy parlours are full of people of a certain age, people who have decided they are not going to sit in a rocking chair for the next thirty years of their lives. They are lucky in that they grew in an age of information and technological revolution. They are putting the skills they have learned over a life time to good use, rather like the folks who grew up during the industrial revolution who came out of the muddy and cold fields of the rural idle to build themselves a comfortable urban life.
The new old person walks with a spring in her step. She refuses to let arthritis or diabetes or bursitis or any other form of itis cramp her style. Thanks to her better diet and even better exercise and that far-out attitude of mind she acquired in the flower generation she is capable of overcoming the little frailties that come with age. Self help for her is only a google click away. She no longer needs to sit in a chair and turn into that bitter person of the media cliche. She knows she revolutionized clothing in the sixties, so why not now? What once were old ladies are wearing mini skirts now, and what’s more they have the legs to show off too and if the legs are not up to scratch they have the sheer chutzpah to not care a damn what people think. I applauded that.
A generation has to invent its own style. It is no use waiting for the leaden clothing industry to set any trends. They usually follow a trend rather than innovate. So get out there folks, discard that dreadful beige that your mums and dads wore. Get some colour in your cheeks and your clothes. The revolution is coming and don’t be left behind.
Twenty-five years ago I was walking down the High Street with a work colleague. He spotted a man possibly in his sixties wearing a pair of jeans “Look at that” he said “the oldest rocker in town”. That was term of derision then. But hey, perceptions can change. Now I am proud to be the oldest rocker in town. Scoffers may scoff but they are either the bitter ones who are scared of old age or the young ones who have no idea what is in store for them.
Now I have to be very careful how I say the next bit if I am not to excite granny rage. I can only speak for myself. Other people have other priorities and circumstances. One reaches an age when one has settled his/her mortgage if there is one, and hopefully one has some sort of secure accommodation, the finances are more or less in order if one has has been wise in one’s dealings. Health is a problem as we get older but there are steps we can take to delay the ravages of old age. If you are already blessed with a certain amount of good health take care to not throw it away by living dangerously and that includes camel racing and mile high clubbing.
What I am trying to say is, it is not about looking young. It is about reinventing the perception of old age. It is difficult to set back time although some of us try, but it is possible to change the perception of what we are, how we look. We did it once. We changed the perception of youth from that tidy haircut spruced up mummy’s boy to that raging wind-in-the-hair wild man, from that virginal girl-child with starched skirts to the spirited hippie chick of the seventies, all crushed Indian cotton and flying springy hair.
So then, Walk tall, look strong and put off that bath chair for a little while longer. What choice have you got? The old age homes with their depressive beige and more depressive smells and large TV screens blaring inanities? Your houses may look large and comfortable and your well tended garden may be invitingly beautiful but it takes a second to catapult you into that third circle of hell which you may have to endure for another twenty years. Take what life has to offer right now and never look back to regret. Go with a flair I say.
Earlier this afternoon me and a friend kicked around that old boring topic of ‘meaning of life’ for a little while. We wondered if we are on this earth to improve ourselves, or to contribute something, or to create, and why do we have this constant urge to work at something? My friend decided there are no answers to these questions and the question itself is meaningless. In fact, he said, the only meaningful question we could ask as we drift off into the unknown is “what….”
My take on life is very subjective. I want to do right, and I want to look beautiful. Life then fits itself around me like an old comfortable blanket. My old loves snuggle in my head and bring a smile to my face. Life can be good and sweet and wonderful in old age. Enjoy it folks!