Tuesday, 19 August 2008

I told You it's All in the Mind.

The weather is appalling for this time of the year and my bones ache with the constant moving of everything from fridges to garden ornaments. Add the effects of antibiotics for a painful infection and I confess I have felt better. I am definitely feeling my age. Except I am unsure how my age, sixty eight should feel.
I was at the first match of the new football season, Derby County versus Doncaster Rovers. It was a dreadful match and we lost, nothing new there. We, the supporters commiserated with each other. An elderly gentleman sitting behind me suggested it was as bad as he'd ever seen. Now it's very common for supporters to reminisce about the 'good old days' but he seemed more knowledgeable than most. Plus mention of 1930's players he had seen was surprising. "Would you mind telling me how old you are" I ventured. The gentleman was evidently a mite bit deaf, for his companion, evidently a mere seventy five years of age spoke for him, proudly informing me his companion was ninety six. There is a walk from the car park and stairs to climb to our seats in the stands, no mean feat at so great an age. Not to mention the stress of following a team that has failed to win in its last thirty plus matches. Plus both men had been farmers, far from an easy life I would have thought.
We had an afternoon at Foremark Reservoir, a local beauty spot to get away from the 'removal blues'. I commented to an elderly gentleman sitting in his car that there were worse places to be. He volunteered that he came four times a week including winter. "I've been coming for many years" he said. "I miss my wife coming with me, I'll be ninety one next birthday." A sad situation but a grand old man, an ex-milkman he told me, battling on in spite of life's trials and tribulations.
I was in a village in Lincolnshire gathering material for a magazine article. The sign 'Lordship Way' looked interesting. The banging from a nearby building attracted my attention. I wandered into the open door and in the gloom saw a small elderly individual, cigarette dangling from his mouth enthusiastically wielding a large hammer. "Excuse my interruption" I called across the forge, for he was obviously the blacksmith, "but could you tell me how Lordship's Way got it's name."
He thought for a while. "Well, my father were here before me, and I've been here since 1926." He lapsed into further contemplation. "And do you know" he answered triumphantly, "I've no idea!"
I looked at the old man with disbelief. Surely his maths were suspect. Again the question, "Excuse me. do you mind telling me how you are."
"Ninety three, I were born in 1913." It was obvious there was nothing wrong with his intellect or his maths. I thanked him for his time and stepped out into the sunlight. Leaving a remarkable man to the smoke filled forge and more than likely another cigarette.
I still visit the village where I lived for the first twenty five years of my life. Until a year or two ago I still saw on occasion Miss May. The last I heard she is in a nursing home and will be over a hundred years of age.
May drove her small car until she was I believe ninety eight years of age. May did not travel great distances but visits to the local Asda at Spondon meant negotiating roads that challenge the most experienced of drivers. May coped admirably in her own way, others seemed more concerned than she was. A mutual friend who accompanied her on her travels once told me " I pray when I get in the car and I give thanks when I get out!"
The village is quiet by city standards but still needs care if accidents are to be avoided. At ninety eight years of age Miss May was reprehended for driving too fast through the village. Shortly afterwards May gave up driving; I would imagine many people gave a sigh of relief. It's not funny really but how many of us would settle for being told off just short of our hundredth birthday.