Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Generation Game

The tattered copy of a copy of an old photo of me was taken on a beach in Guernsey in about 1964.  I was 29 and well able to walk on my hands, (something which never struck me as in any way remarkable until quite recently.

Youth and the quality of youthfulness are comparative terms.  While it seems natural for  instance, for one person to be able to do at 50 what they could at 20, for others it is not merely physically impossible, but unthinkable that they should wish to do so.
The quality of agelessness is one which has its source in a host of different things, but for me, it has something to do with having an interest in anything and everything.  Never closing one's mind totally to any idea, however bizarre or unlikely and being open to persuasion.

Another reason for the sometimes childlike behaviour of some fairly ancient people has I believe more than a little to do with still having parents, even at quite an advanced age.

In this way, despite the relentless march of time, you are still someone's child and there is still the feeling that not all of life's problems are yours to solve alone.

Even if the actual input of the remaining parent or parents is minimal, there is still the feeling that there is an older (wiser) generation to  turn to if the need arises.

Yesterday, a cousin rang me with the sad news that  his father (my father's last remaining brother) had died on Monday.  He would have been 103 had he survived another five days.

My father's parents had eleven children, my mother's parents four, and this was the very last of them, which suddenly brought home to me the realisation that we, my brothers and my cousins, are now the senior generation.  Suddenly we are not children any more.  Suddenly we have reluctantly to grow up.

A salutory thought, and one I don't relish.

While I am not about to try to stand on my hands I really don't want to be 'old' just yet.

I'm racking my brains to find another way to 'kick over the traces', just give me time, I'll find something.

"You are old father William, the young man said, and your hair has become very white, and yet you incessantly stand on your head, do you think at your age it  is right"?


  1. I find this ongoing journey into the discovery of you to be fascinating, in a good way.

    Nice scanning, too!

  2. Oh, I'm envious, Ray. You could stand on your hands, something I tried often to do but always without success. Sigh....

    My DH still has his mother, very much alive and with us at 87, if a bit more forgetful than she used to be. My mother died almost 30 years ago, when I was 36, five years after my father. As neither of our parents had surviving siblings and we therefore have no cousins, my sisters and I were suddenly the senior generation. A bit of a misnomer at ages ranging from 44 to 24, though we're looking a bit more senior nowadays :-)

  3. Aw Shucks David, what can I say? "Stick with me kid, you ain't heard nuttin' yet"

  4. Not quite sure why standing on my hands should be the subject of envy. So far as I'm aware it served no useful purpose - except perhaps to send a rush of blood to my brain.
    All of us sadly look more senior as time goes by.
    It's great to have cousins, though contact is minimal these days and there are now only thirteen where there were seventeen.

  5. Ray - 29 and still able to walk on your hands, I think that skill stopped when I was about 14! I love what you say about being open to everything - something I have to do as so many doors are closed physically for me being a mere 43 with a very aged 80 year old body (ok I probably exagerate but that is often what if feels like!).

  6. oooh now that has got me thinking - I do remember I could still do the splits at 28 - until I married my husband and got rheumatoid arthritis!

  7. Ray, I was a clumsy, totally unathletic nerd and would have given anything to be able to something as cool as walking on my hands. We have strange ambitions when we're young...

  8. Jane I'm sorry your physical condition prevents your doing anything so supremely useful as standing on your hands, and as for the comment about the splits.
    Do re-read it. It makes it sound as though your rheumatoid arthritis was retribution for marrying your husband.
    While I appreciate that it is both a painful and debilitating disease, not all youthful activities are physical.

  9. Perpetua, I too was useless at all organised games had no hand-eye coordination, and couldn't play any game where hitting, kicking, or throwing a ball into a net was considered desirable.
    I was, however, fleet of foot, supple and could run like the wind (when necessary).
    My great dream was to ice-skate, and since I couldn't even stand up in skating boots, that was a non-starter.
    As you say, we do indeed have strange ambitions when we're young.

  10. If you can take up blogging in your seventies, you are going to age well:)

  11. OK Anita we'll see. I hereby invite you to my 100th birthday party.

  12. Somewhere along the way my top-rated physical abilities faded. I played squash into my fifties, but now am struggling with the thought of trying to go to the over 60s badminton. But then you help me to realise that we are meant to mature and explore new horizons as we become older and wiser. I have this mental picture of loads of your readers trying to stand on their hands/heads or whatever! Let's hope it is not a nightmare.

  13. Oh Freda what a lovely picture, the mind boggles!
    I'm just mentally viewing all the over 60's in ST. M's, in just that position .....No....No really.
    More seriously, mental agility is at least as important as physical I'm sure, so we're alright
    aren't we?