Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old Opinion for the Old Herald

The internet's becoming a bit aged now. One problem of paddling in its waters for a long time is that you can forget things you started. Such as this blog... one of several I've started in the last 10 years.

Ironically, I was also asked recently by the New Zealand Herald to write a piece on the good and bad aspects of getting older. Given that I'm 69 (crikey!) I suppose I can expect to field such requests.

I'm writing a couple of other blogs now and so this one is a tad neglected - languishing for more than a year with no new posts. I was going to shut it down but I have no idea how the hell to do it. Something else I must get around to Googling!

So here, in a nod to my old blog, are my thoughts on being (kind of) old, given to the old Herald.

What's GOOD about being older now is that we can be so connected to the wider world, and there are so many fun ways to do that.

At 60 I could never have thought that at nearly 70 I'd be building websites, making videos to put on YouTube, putting books on Amazon, keeping up with Twitter feeds and planning to run online courses. For all the downsides of new technology there are exciting and wonderful fields to play in - and you can do it all from your own home.

If we're lucky to live long and have good health, we have more years than any previous generation for enjoying things we love, taking up new pursuits and, given spare cash, going to places our own grandparents could only dream of. Then there's food and wine.

For people who grew up on plain meat and over-cooked veg, with chicken chow mein as the only 'exotic' taste treat in town, today's cuisine options are wondrous. So are the medical advances now able to beat ailments that sent our ancestors to early graves.

What's BAD is that we may be the first generation of oldies to be technically outstripped by children - which makes it easy to feel dumb in the company of the young.

Actually, we are probably not the first. There must have been cocky young steam engineers in the Victorian age who sniggered at those who stuck to horse-and-carriage transport.

Today's older women also find themselves utter outcasts when it comes to style. Once, older dames had an elegance that teenagers yearned for. But that was before the word 'teenager' was invented. Now, women's magazines offering fashion advice to women of different decades invariably stop at 60, or even 50.

And when they do make an effort to profile stunning older women, out they come with the same over-used crew of Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling, Judi Dench at al, as if ageing actresses are the only women worth a glance. It's more like they'e the only ones whose pics are easy to find. Still, few of us everyday dowagers give a toss.

What is also tiresome is the expectation that older people must look sleek, deliriously happy and well-groomed at all times.

At least that's the impression you get from all the retirement-village ads.

In the romanticised 'golden years' photos, we apparently all want nothing more than to walk hand in hand on the beach at sunset, trim of tummy and light of heart. No one is bald. We all have our marbles. Our joints are well lubricated by a plethora of collagen-boosting pills. And if we need to wear nappies for grown-ups, then at least they're so well designed that nobody can tell.

It must be why all those research surveys on happiness invariably find that older people are the happiest demographic of all.

Image: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

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