Before you get on your high horse, I’m not about to say that All Elderly People are A Bad Thing, or that it’s a struggle to think of anything to be glad about when any OAP is in the vicinity. Some old types are a perfect delight, what with their crochet patterns, gin habits, and colourful tales about the war (with which they were almost certainly not involved).
Other old people are just a bit sad – here I refer to the ones that brush by you in the supermarket smelling strongly of cat urine, making you wonder who is looking out for them. I don’t have any quarrel with them, though. Someone has to buy the reduced kippers, lest Mr Tesco has not enough pennies to buy his supper.
The old people I have difficulty with are the ones who are afraid of their own shadows, and take it out on me.
We all know that getting old is crap. We saw that TV film where Dame Thora Hird plays a woman who has had a stroke, and she keeps saying things wrong and is a shell of her former self (it was called Lost For Words and starred Pete Postlethwaite as Deric Longden).
We also know that as you get old, bits of you start falling off, your best mates start dying, and people like me start... walking behind you on the street in an intimidating way.
Yesterday I was walking along the road behind an older lady. That’s just how I like to roll sometimes – deal with it, society. Anyway, because I was a couple of hundred yards away from the flat, I slowed down and started rooting around in my bag for my keys rather than overtaking.
How very dare I.
Said lady did one of those not-very-surreptitious half turns people do to see who is behind them, panicked on seeing my monstrous visage, and moved to the left to let me past. Her plan would have worked perfectly, had my door not also been on the left.
As you might expect, I did not go past the lady. That would have entailed moving round her and promptly completing a 90-degree turn right in front of her wrinkly face if I didn’t want to completely miss my place of abode. Such antagonistic behaviour would have probably made her jump, key me, or at least do a little wee.
The result of our little pantomime was that she came to a complete stop right in front of my door. Defiantly, she turned to look not-quite-at-me, presumably planning to stay that way till I was safely past and she could continue her commute unhampered by my presence.
“Excuse I,” quoth my larynx, as my hand brandished keys in a jingle jangle fashion, “I’m going in there.”
Well. Such a glaring-at I have never experienced since the halcyon days of High School. You’d think I’d sat on her dog.
So what is there to be glad about in this tale of mistrust?
A lesson learned, that’s what. When I am an old lady, I will not be crippled by a fear of people walking behind me. In fact, I will campaign so that other old ladies may know that when it is 5.30pm in broad daylight, and you are in a part of town containing two piano shops and a botanical garden, the commuter behind you is probably not looking to steal your Alice band.
“If you expect people to be horrible,” I shall counsel wisely over scones and cream, “they are more likely to be horrible. But by and large, people use the street not to lie in wait to crush our fragile skulls, for the same reason as we do – getting from A to B.”
“Sucre bleu,” my fellow elderly will cry (for in the future, sugar will be blue and from France), “we thought anyone under the age of 65 lived only to set our bins on fire and con us into giving away our life savings!”
“Not so,” I will counter, waggling my finger knowledgeably. “The vast majority are just like you and I, if a little smoother of skin.”
Thus the worldwide problems of ageism and intolerance will be solved, older people will realise that the constant scaremongering of the news is just that; and the world will be glad indeed.