There are obvious signs that age is beginning to take its toll on me. I’ve got a good bit of grey in my sideburns. Depending on my mood when I look in the mirror, I swing between thinking, ‘George Clooney’ and ‘Wilfred Brambell.’
I still play football from time to time. As little as ten years ago, I could happily play for a couple of hours with no physical price to pay. Now, after one hour of five-a-side, I spend the next couple of days feeling like I’ve been battered with pool cues.
Whenever I make a sudden movement, ie from sitting to standing, it has to be accompanied by a running commentary of, ‘oohs’ ‘aaahhs’ and ‘Jesus Christs’. Funnily enough, despite having actively disdained Catholicism for the best part of twenty five years, I feel obliged to silently use my dad’s apology of ‘god forgive me for swearing’ whenever I take his eldest lad’s name in vain.
I could go on all day about physical decline and its demoralising effects, but I’d prefer to focus on one of the more subtle changes that I’ve noticed with the passing decades.
I’ve found myself getting angry at the sort of casual rudeness that would have been off my radar a while back. Ten years ago, if I’d have held a door open for you and you breezed through without acknowledgement, I’d have just shrugged and thought, ‘tosser.’ Not any more. The place where I work is full of people who consider themselves sufficiently high powered to have achieved a rank in society that means they can dispense with common courtesy. Only this morning I held a door open for a bloke coming through on the phone and he actually gave me a dirty look! Not just a lack of gratitude but a ‘get out of my way’ glance. I took the only action available in the circumstances and shouted, “You’re welcome!!!” loud enough to embarrass him but quiet enough to ensure I didn’t get sectioned.
Never mind cures for cancer and the unravelling of the human genome; all scientific research must be focussed on producing a machine that allows its user to travel back in time for just a few seconds so that they can withdraw their gestures of kindness. At the flick of a switch you can be transported to the moment you decided to hold the door open/let a car out/offer your place in the supermarket queue to someone with a couple of items. You can then fix them with a steely gaze and say,
“You look rude. Not in the nudge nudge, Carry On film sense either. Just plain old rude, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to let the door shut in your face”