Youth was in black and white, not colour. Today it is perhaps grey, although we can now disguise its colours with apps on the computer. Getting old and looking the part was for mums and dads, aunts and uncles and grandparents. Here I am on the left of dad with my three cousins and aunt on the left on holiday together. Those were the days. I once asked Mr. Swiss where have they gone. Why did we not realise that one day we would also become old. The last time I saw my twin cousins at the back of the photo, was at my father’s funeral earlier this year. We now all have grey hair, what remains. I walk with a cane and also one of my cousins, although only temporary as he had broken his leg. Their mother left us last year, three weeks before her 100th birthday. She was my mother’s schoolfriend, before marrying her brother. Oh, where have these days gone?
The grandfather that was the patriach of the family: surrounded by his children, in-laws and grandchldren at a family gathering, sitting in a chair in the corner. He was just there, puffing on his cigarette with a glass of beer in his hand and now and again making a movement to the loo. They everyone separated to give him a clear path, and with his son on one arm and son-in-law on the other he would allow himself to be led
“All right pop?” he was asked on his way.
“Yea, yea” was a mumbled answer and supported by the family he found the way. He soon finished and was on the return path, again supported by his helpers. You respected your elders, although grandad was different to us. He was old, no longer stable on his legs and did not really say a lot. Who knows? One day you will be older, your youth long gone. The perfidious part being, that you do not think of these things. But was grandad happy, satisfied, did he realise that one day he would become old an no longer make a normal journey to the toilet without this fuss and bother?
You go to school to learn the basics. Suddenly you are a teenager, doing what teenagers do. You are perhaps hunting for a partner, it lays in the natural cycle of life. Perhaps a dedicated follower of fashion, wearing the latest trends, no matter how stupid they are: after all everyone else is doing it, so why not join in. The memories of hopping on the platform of a London bus wearing a skirt so tight you could only do it by lifting one leg after the other in an acrobatic style. Who cares who is looking, it was fashion. This effort coupled with high heels, stiletto version, did not make things easier, but you were young. And do not forget the make-up, you wore lipstick, coupled with eye liner and shadow. Try that today. I could not paint a straight line above my eye lid, and it would look stupid in any case. I do not even have a lipstick. Yes I do, but cannot remember where it is and have not used it for a few years. Have you ever looked at the old photos and wondered how you could find something like that to be attractive?
I said to Mr. Swiss a couple of days ago, who would have thought that growing old would be like this. Not being able to leave a chair without thinking about it first of all, and planning how to do it. The day begins and the first conversation is how do you feel. You feel you have slowed down over the years, that things are not how they used to be. Perhaps we could take a walk this afternoon. Not sure, perhaps, must see if I feel like it. This is no longer youth, this is what growing old is. In England the bus has reserved seats for the elderly and disabled. I always intentionally avoided them to make room for the elderly. Today the seat is for me, becaue I am the elderly. In youth I would stand in a crowded bus or train, no problem. Now the time has arrived where I am happy to be able to find an empty seat, which is usually offered by a younger person.
Youth, where ar thou? Why have you deserted me?