Friday, 2 December 2011

A Woman of Age

I now feel myself to be 'A Woman of Age'. Such a description holds a certain ring to it, suggests certain virtues as well as vices and hints at losses and strengths that only age may endow you with. I have had a big birthday since we last met dear reader, I can now get free prescriptions and eye tests and may have the ability to make younger people feel guilty on the bus for not surrendering their seat to me. Stop, stop, I don’t require congratulations , unless it is to extend your good wishes at having made it thus far up the slippery pole called life. One wonders how far you can shimmy up before you start slipping back into those years you thought you’d left behind.

I was told the other day by someone that a cure for stress and anger was to squeeze a lemon ( the real variety not the plastic kind as that might result in the top shooting off and hitting some unsuspecting passer-by, although that may in itself be stress reducing). However it is not just the squeezing that helps, afterwards you are meant to smell your hand and this smell then becomes linked with the reduction of stress so thereafter throughout the day ( barring a savage soap and water hand washing session) just sniffing your hand makes you feel a little less angry or stressed. Putting aside the image of people sniffing their hand as their blood pressure rises, which in itself could lead to some encountering a less than positive response, there was a rider added to the advice. One of the early signs of Alzheimer’s is the inability to smell common things such as lemons.

Of course I immediately rushed home and smelt the lemon I had lurking at the back of the fridge but its rather green moldiferous state made it less than fragrant. Then I decided that it would be better to just let the smell of lemons waft my way one day by acident and the smell would be the more fragrant simply for the notion that it may be a sign my noodle is still firing on most pistons.

Ageing is not a bad thing, the longer a writer and poet lives the more they have to write about and the more they can mess up which is usually the source of many a decent poem. A good friend sent me a book of poems by the poet Ruth Stone, who has recently died at the age of 96. Her last collection was published when she was 93. She was sharp, funny, irreverent and had the ability to write poems that touched on the 'big' things with a lightness of touch.


What my eye sees
Goes into the dark
And passes, packet by packet
Along the ledge over the abyss
Between the lobes.
It goes so far
I think I cannot get it back
And when I least expect
Some of it returns
Not simple
as it was
Or seemed
But now complex
And freighted with the universe.

What we may think we forget may return with something added; now that’s a motto to embrace when next I go upstairs then wonder what I went up for.

I note that the adverts on my Facebook Page seem to have reset themselves to the default position of second guessing what women of a certain age may need or want. Wrinkle creams, dating sites for the over 50s and randomly, coats for dogs, cheese and free coupons for meals at distant cafes. I suspect there is, somewhere, a woman of sixty eating cheese at the kitchen table, cutting out free coupons for dinner in Glasgow and dreaming of meeting someone on a dating site whilst staring at her Chihuahua dressed in a fetching Versace number.

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