Friday, 2 May 2014
I forgot to say, I had a remarkable landmark experience last week.
When we got to the head of the short queue, the young woman selling entry tickets for Stokesay Castle went through her usual, well-polished spiel: entrance is so much, with reductions for seniors and under-18s, and membership for a whole year is a mere so much -- have you considered membership? No? -- and a printed guide is so much, but the recorded tour is free. I started to count out the cash, when it struck me. No, wait! How old is a senior?
I grabbed back and rapidly started recounting the cash. My very first senior concession! Amusingly and endearingly, the Prof -- who is young in appearance but an infamous tightwad -- was visibly conflicted.
It is a conflicting thing, this crossing of the threshold that leads, inexorably, to the great anti-climax that is Old Age. There's a nice piece by Jenny Diski in the London Review of Books which is worth reading (anything by Jenny Diski is worth reading, I think). It's a wry meditation on ageing, framed as a book review, that is several cuts above the usual "You know you're getting old when..." routines. I'm sure she's right in predicting an upcoming deluge of "How to Be Old" books, written by boomers for boomers. Worse, these books will all be tainted with that neoliberal, hippyish optimism that insists that all negative experiences are, at root, an attitude problem, and probably a consequence of a bad diet. That the infirmities of age and, ultimately, death itself, are lifestyle choices.