The seven signs of ageing

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that I visited this topic previously many years ago.  As this blog has been going so very long, there is a possibility I was a mere child in my fifties when I did the writing.  I recall (vaguely, like watching a black and white film through custard) that I considered the principle sign of ageing to be a fondness for wearing cardigans.  I may also have waxed lyrical about the possibility of scarves and slippers.

The French have a saying about it which translates as: If youth only knew, if age only could.  Droit dans, soeur!

With the stupidity of youf and, obviously, from this point of view, I didn’t take into account bits dropping off. 

Bits dropping off becomes a major topic of interest when you get well past retirement.  I always thought the purpose of retirement was to give you time for hobbies.  It’s not.  It’s because you can’t do an honest day’s work without falling asleep in the middle, or, bits, dropping off.  Fingers and toes are top of the list.  These are underappreciated until age and arthritis sets in.  For no reason your thumb hurts, swells up and refuses to help you take the top off a bottle. Toes just go on strike.  I have a toe that sticks up because I broke it when I was in my twenties and the Xray missed the hairline fracture so I continued to wear high heels and it set.  Up.  Last November, still in sandals and trying to prolong the lockdown summer, I walked into a drawer, broke it again and didn’t go to hospital, which I’d heard was full of people sneezing.  My toe went an interesting shade of black and purple as if it was auditioning for a limp-on part in a Gothic novel.  It was interesting colours and awfully painful for weeks.  So I loosened my orthopaedic sandals and carried on.  But I forgot to tighten them again, so, in a few months, my other foot fell into the hole I’d created.  I kept waking up with a swollen ankle. thinking I had sprained it. I did arch strengthening exercises for weeks (toes like a duck, up on your points, sloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly down.) to no avail, still waking with a sprained ankle and by now walking on the wrong side of that ankle instead of the foot and gardening like a deer run over by a tractor.

Then I remembered and did my sandals up.  Der.

You see, your what’s it called goes.  Um.  Thingy.  Memory!   The part of your brain that hasn’t dropped off is asking: why are we limping?  No, really, why are we limping?  Have we always walked on our ankle, like this?  This hurts!  Is this normal?

Readers who also have shortened memories, (quick quiz: what did you have for lunch yesterday?  Me neither.) will recall me going on a not diet a week ago when the OH bought a new pair of scales that actually work and tell the truth, which is, obvs. a shocking thing for a pair of scales to do.  I don’t really want to know and I am the woman who, at my last bone density scan found myself plea bargaining with the nurse about my height.  That drops off as well.  So, even if you stay the same weight, if you’re losing height, you’ll be overweight.  Get short enough and you’ll look like you’ve been sat on by an elephant.  How fair is that?

I took heed of the treacherous item, climbed upon it three times a day (never get weighed at teatime) and behaved accordingly.  Two days ago my intestines played up and I had a couple of days when I couldn’t eat anyway.  So I have lost weight.  Ten years ago, I would have been delighted and amazed, triumphant and obnoxiously self congratulatory.

Now, however, what I am mainly, is wrinkly.

Fat makes you look round and youthful.

Wrinkles make you look wrinkly.  There’s a character in the Simpsons who is very very wrinkly, if she goes on strike I could be a stand-in.

Everything loses collagen, including your bladder and the capacity of your bladder.

I am the idiot who redesigned a house so I had a walk-in wardrobe.  Anyone with intelligence (I remember having intelligence – or was that someone else?) would have designed a walk-in toilet rather than having to trek along the landing six times a night.  Any senior reader who wishes to write saying:  Six times a night!  Only six, that’s luxury that is, wait till you’re eighty, sunshine, may.  I will definitely publish all polite comments about how often we leave the warmth of bed for the long trek, we need to know this stuff briefly before we forget it forever or until we are eighty, when I will be writing about the wonderful exercise available to eighty year olds during the night time and the necessity of teatime being the last cup of tea for the next five hours. Like the motorway petrol station in the back of beyond that warns you :  Last petrol for fifty miles, fill up now, three gold bars per pint and for a diamond necklace we’ll sneeze in your tyres too. And you think they’re just trying to drum up business until you run out in a particularly lonesome stretch with wolf noises.

Have I mentioned memory?

Then there’s memory as well, of course.

You already know about my cataracts affecting my poof raiding, so I’ll not bing ern a pout thait.

Then there’s tinnitus.  My friend lived in a house haunted by constant whining noises.

It was actually her mother unable to find the bottle opener, but she did have tinnitus and said the drink helped her forget.

I have broken off two weak fingernails that I was just beginning to grow, gardening.  So I have coated them with the strengthening stuff and now have two shiny nails, that gouge out lumps of skin every time I blow my nose and all the rest plain, but fortunately odd nails are fashionable.

I have been gardening for a week straight, apart from a day at the hairdressers, re-laid a lawn, dug everything and planted whatever I could lay my hands on or wrest off the slugs.  Ten years ago I would have felt, fit, trim, worked-out.

Now I feel about a hundred and three, with wrinkles. I have wrinkly arms, swollen ankles, a wrinkly chin, a tight grey perm and a big fat thumb.

So I’m going to have a cardigan, a scarf and an early night with six loo breaks from sleep to hobble down the corridor, in the hope I can remember exactly why I am hobbling down the corridor on my ankles in the middle of the night.

Seven signs of ageing, upon consideration, may have been somewhat of an understatement.


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