Nothin’ to worry about

Nothin’ to worry about

If I manage to frinkle my way through a few more decades and find myself sitting in a ‘comfortable chair alongside my darling Jo, I know we’ll still have our cheeky little moments.  There will be some accidental double entendre and one of us will reference it, finished with something like “You know what I’m saying?”   That’ll probably be me.  I’m sure it’ll be suggestive of something we might do together as a couple but be incapable of at that stage, because I’m talkin’ old old here.  What I know is that her answer will be along the lines of “I know ‘zactly what you’re sayin’”and we’ll exchange a nose twitch or a little wink to affirm that we would if we could.

Now I know that everyone has some romantic notion of what life will be like when they get older and the truth for you all I hope is along the best lines of what you hope for.   I know from my point of view what I want in my twilight years and I doubt things will ultimately work out that way for life has a way of getting in the way…but I hope it doesn’t.

If that sounds pessimistic, it’s not meant to be.  All I mean is that I have learned through life that all the things I imagined, when I dared imagine into the future are never quite exactly like that picture I had in my head.  Sometimes, most times, that’s a good thing for I am quite the pragmatist.  I’m a demon for over analysing and challenging any overly optimistic version of what lies ahead.  Maybe it’s because I’m a worrier I don’t really know.

I remember thinking twenty was old and I recall the first time a kid called me mister.  Lord I felt old. I think I was twenty two. I kinda wanted to be a mister because I always looked about twelve until I was thirty, but having a kid call me mister was not what I was thinking.  I wanted a waiter in a restaurant or an older person to use the term to validate my manliness.  The kid wrecked it for me. 

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Age is such a weird thing.  In my youth I occasionally struggled with my appearance.  I was 53 kg until I was about twenty five, that’s eight and a half stone in old money.  I wasn’t altogether unattractive and had my fair share of attention.. oh yes but I was no ladies’ man.  The weight thing combined with the good fortune of a good complexion meant I looked about fifteen and this was an issue when it came to getting served in pubs.  I was still being checked for my age at twenty five.  I always wanted to look older back then – at least until the first day things went in reverse. It was no coincidence that I spent my days cycling, running, playing basketball and working so there was inevitably more meat on a tinker’s stick back then.  It’s a politically incorrect term these days but like I say I’m aging fast and it is a reference to day’s of yore.

I remember the day it all changed well.  I was twenty nine (so technically still in my twenties) and I had become used to looking younger than my years.  The barmen had stopped asking for ID so things were on the up – or so I thought.  A casual conversation in a workplace canteen meant I quite simply came undone.  Someone was referring to their age and turned to me and asked what age I was. Foolishly I said,

“Have a guess.”  I was waiting for 25 or 26 when to my horror and for the first time in my life someone guessed the other way.

“I’d say about thirty four – thirty five.”

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Now it wasn’t simple vanity that caused the shock, it was that for the first time in my life I was confronted with the notion that I was actually aging.  Up to that point, I was the lucky Bas***d who never aged.  I was Peter Pan and suddenly I had become Methusela.  It’s been downhill ever since.

Now in fairness, apart from the increasing list of creaks and ailments, nose hair and inclination to complain about ‘young people’ and feeling nostalgic for a time before even an 8 track was the height of technology, (google it young people)  getting older has brought some consolation benefits. Caring less about the opinion of those that matter little in my life and appreciating those that do matter more would be one of them. I’ve never been a conformist in the sense that I’ve always been ballsy in what I wear or to a large extent, in what I do or say, but age frees you up even more in these departments.

It is a struggle to keep the middle of my body in check, as it likes to expand with little encouragement and it is more determined than ever to avoid going back to its once, svelte like state. Although I still tell my grandniece that the colour off my hair is indeed still blonde, it is – shall we just say – less so  and leave it at that.  She calls it grey but what do kids these days know eh?

I have a dodgy ticker, a wrecked back, a pair of knees that are functional at best, ankles that click as I walk, and stiff fingers. I wear glasses more often and I have begun (Begun! my darling will say) to strain to hear things a little more often.  Basically random bits of me hurt at inconvenient moments and for no apparent reason.  I get face pains, arm pains and arse pains although to be fair – over the years I have had a pain in my arse on more than one occassion, usually though as a result of the action or inaction of others.

But I digress. I’m still a way off being put out to pasture – well a bit of a way off – and yet I suspect when I get to that point where I should accept that I’m an auld lad at last, that I will be calling younger men and women than I – auldwans and auldfellas.

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“Look at the state of that old lad” I’ll say, as I zimmer frame my way past annoying young people hovering outside a shopping mall with their terrible loud music.  Nah… Only joking.  I will most probably refer to the old lad, but I’ll be more likely to shimmy my wrinkly old arse to the beat of whatever new shite the next generation will be playing too loudly, on whatever device they will be playing it on – only I’ll have to ask them to turn it up because I’ll be a deaf old dude.

That’s the plan anyway.  Being alone when I get – if I get – to that stage of life would be a challenge for a soul like mine, but having my darling Joanna with me will make all the difference.  It is not a romantic notion of my future, more the pragmatic one I mentioned earlier.  I don’t need anything extra or special you see.  As long as I have her tiny hand resting on the small of my back, making sure I’m not going to fall.  As long as I can still smell her perfume and make her giggle like a girl occasionally.  As long as she sets a dimple in my cheek as I smile when she tells me she still thinks I’m handsome – even though I’ll be an auld wreck of a yoke.  As long as I can hear her soft voice, hold her gentle hand and feel her kind heart without even a word passing between us.  As long as I still want to impress her, to make her smile and at least start to try and have a little jive before I realise my back’s not really up to it and I can’t remember the steps anyway, then life will be good and age… well… it’ll still be just a thing I don’t yet have to worry about…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

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Skinny little short-arsed pirate

Skinny little short-arsed pirate

Is it just me or have people gone nuts on being overprotective with their kids? I can’t imagine most kids today doing ten percent of the things we did when I wore short trousers. What I can remember is my mother knocking on the kitchen window and wagging her ginger at me and my friend for jumping off our garden shed. I held my hands out, palms up and lifted my shoulders in a “what’s the problem” type of “I’m innocent, I didn’t do anything wrong” type of gesture. She raised her finger in front of her face, which she tilted as she raised her eyebrows in a “are you questioning me?” type of response.

I knew what it meant. I sat on the edge of the shed and instead of jumping from a standing position to the ground, jumped from a sitting position to the ground. It was a concession and defiance as if to say “see it’s safe.” The shed roof was ten feet off the ground and I was a skinny little, short-arsed eight year old boy playing cowboys. Didn’t she ever see the magnificent seven? I was in the bell tower with a Winchester at that moment and she was ruining it. If I was coming down from that shed, it should have at least included being winged and ending with a fall and multi-role on the ground afterwards. Sitting and jumping with a “see it’s not dangerous” expression on my face, was pushing my luck.

The cheekiness could have got me in trouble and I knew that the minute she came out the back door. She scolded me but I argued the toss and I explained just how safe it was. I brought her around to the back of the stone out building and demonstrated that I had been sensible. There was an old wooden crate that worked as a step to the wall attached to the side of the shed. I could step up onto the crate, then the wall and then easily and safely ascend to the top of the shed. My mother was a pragmatist and knew if I wasn’t up on the shed where she could see me, I’d be up a drainpipe somewhere beyond her gaze. We did a deal. As long as I used the same route to descend from the shed’s flat roof as I used to climb up there, I could sit on the roof of the shed. But no running, jumping or standing near the edge.

Yeah, like that lasted ten minutes. My next door neighbour and I, had competitions to see who could run across the top of the shed and jump the furthest! It was only one example of the devilment we used to get up to and the danger to which we readily exposed ourselves in the interest of learning our boundaries.

In general we were very much left to our own devices and while I’m not saying it was perfect, it is sad to see the level of control and surveillance on young kids today. Leave aside the stranger danger issue, of course we have to protect our children, I’m talking about the preciousness that stops the adventure of climbing a tree or walking a tightrope.

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I’m telling you now, when I saw Burt Lancaster in the Crimson Pirate, the first thing I did was dig out a rope from my Da’s shed and tie it from my friends tree to the fence so we could walk along it. By day two, we were both balancing on it fencing with sticks, with me doing my best Burt Lancaster laugh impression “HA HA HA” one hand on me hip!

Smoking out bees, battling through fields of nettles in shorts, firing stones at each other with gats, mother of divine, when I think of it! Did we get hurt? Of course we did. Did we break windows? Of course we did? Did we get punished? Not if I could blame Martin Dredge.

School was just as bad. It was a cesspool of disease and infection. We were crammed into classes of 40 plus and at some point, someone in our working class 1970’s school classroom had one infection or other. We didn’t get driven to school, we walked. We got rained on, snowed on and slid on ice until our little arses were sore from falling down.

There always seemed to be at least one kid with a snotty nose and usually one with a permanent stream of green ooze being sucked back up, licked with a tongue or wiped on a sleeve. ‘Snotzer’ was the name given to such permanently afflicted children and there were quite a few Snotzers in our school. At some point we all got whatever was going around. We didn’t have classrooms with ensuite bathrooms or gentle alcohol free, hypo allergenic wet wipes. We had sleeves on our jumpers and usually one or more of us had a nice crusty one from wiping their nose in it.

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I’m not saying that’s how it should be. It is great to see smaller classrooms and better conditions, but what I am saying is that a little bit of crustiness does no harm. If your kid hasn’t at least held a slug, worm or earwig and contemplated licking it to see what it tastes like, you are holding on to the reins waaaaay too tight.

I hated earwigs yet we all had to see what it felt like to have one grasp you with its pinchers so you could imagine just how much damage he would do after he crawled inside your ear and burrowed his way into your brain as we all surely knew they would.

Catching bees in jars was a summer given and access to my auld fella’s shed to use his tools was no problem so long as we put them back when we finished with them. How else were we to learn what our limitations were or understand the sheer greatness of our potential? I thought myself how to ride a bike and I learned to swim out of shear dogged determination all by my lonesome. I was afraid of everything and I took everything on to overcome the fear. What a lucky boy.

But I was only able to do so by having the freedom to do so. A couple of months back; I had the opportunity to go canyoning in the mountains of Spain. I hadn’t even heard of the activity before and when I got there I was drawn immediately back to my childhood.

They told me to put on a wet suit and waterproof shoes, handed me a harness and a helmet and then said let’s go. I had little idea what was in store for me. It was a combination of rugged beauty and calm mixed with blind terror and white water adventure. We made our way on foot several miles along a deep canyon. We began by wading through shallow water on very uneven slippery rocks in the blazing sun, followed by abseiling, jumping twenty feet off rocks into rockier pools below and white-water rafting without a boat.

I haven’t had so much of that type of reckless fun since I was a kid. Of course I realised that a lot had changed since then. When I was eight, I would have raced to the highest point and cannonballed into the water. This time I found myself carefully peering down and calculating the percentage chances of hitting one of the rocks on the descent, before I eventually jumped. But of course I jumped. How could I not? I jumped, swam and dived, I slip-slided, floated and clambered my way through the whole thing with a sense of adventure that I had almost forgotten.

It was the first time that I tested my old ticker properly since the unmentionable scare eighteen months previously and that more than anything, had me on edge. The old man in me came out as I considered the response time of the Spanish paramedics should anything go wrong in the remote canyon in the mountains.

But I let it go. My darling Jo made a very apt comment when I showed her photos of her less than handsome old man in a wet suit on my return. She knows me better than anyone and she smiled looking at the pictures of her auld lad clambering through the canyon. Her comment hit the mark.

“Look at you smiling,” she said, “you look like a big kid.”

I guess inside at least, I always will be… Gotta’ love my beautiful girl, she gets me…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

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