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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Seize the day




Cartoon fo elderly man climbing rope by Lorne Brown


Being blind, I never get hung up on appearances and so am open to people just being - well…just being themselves… no matter how they may look.  I guess my prejudices tend to be dictated by what age they are, but even this is proving to be deceptive. Adventurous, thrill seeking, willing to learn new things, not hung up on appearances, keen to get out and “do” things; does this describe a seventy something to you?  Well, at the moment I appear to be surrounded by a gang of four of them, who all appear to be mutating into some strange adventurous characters and it’s all happening without the aide of plastic surgery and medication.  It’s occurring because the changes are happening in their attitude to life as opposed to their appearance and physical condition. 
I’m not aware of them looking any different from when I could see them years ago.  However, by all accounts, they just look like any 70 plus year old men have always looked.  Either thin with grey hair and beards, or not so thin with not so much hair. Faces, by all accounts, have definitely seen a bit of life with some certainly looking wiser than others.  Most of them have more than one pair of glasses for every circumstance, reading, driving, seeing when the glass is empty! .   They all have their own limbs and can walk upright more or less unaided. So all and all, they aren’t doing too badly.

However, the four mature chaps I’m talking of aren’t growing old without a fight; it’s more a fully blown nuclear attack. The difficulty is they are leaving nothing for us younger generations to aim for. I’m not naming them, but they know who they are. 
Cartoon of mature gentleman ski-ing by Lorne Brown


The first pensioner took up skiing again six years ago at the age of 65 after a spell away from the hills. He’s not down on the nursery slopes quivering with the beginners and the toddlers. No! He’s on the Black runs leaping off six feet slopes whilst slaloming in and out of ice moguls. To illustrate his toughness; three years ago after a fall on such a run, he hadn’t realised that he had dislocated his shoulder, until he had removed his jacket back at the hotel.  Tough or what. Every day he’s in the gym for an hour training and just to add insult to injury, he can still drink me under the table.

Cartoon sketch of an elderly gentleman climbing a rope by Lorne Brown




The second pensioner is a keen climber. five years ago at the age of 76 he tried ice climbing in Austria for the first time.  There is nothing he loves more than hanging off mountains by one arm. In the last two years he’s got his husky licence in Greenland and climbed eight Via Ferrata in eight  days for his eightieth birthday in the Italian Dolomites.  Raising 8,000 pounds for the Guide Dogs on his way)


Elderly gentleman rowing in a choppy sea cartoon by Lorne Brown

The Third pensioner bought himself a Canoe. Nothing he enjoys more than going down to the loch in front of his house and paddling up and down.. This may sound sedate, but with health and safety always uppermost in his thoughts, no matter the time of year or temperature, he will deliberately throw himself in as a test to make sure he will survive should he fall in accidentally. The air may  just be above freezing, but yet he believes it’s a thrilling experience and makes him “feel alive.”  He says “wet suits are so good these days.” Hang on! Aren’t pensioners meant to be prone to hypothermia and that’s just sitting quietly in their living rooms watching the snooker with not enough cash for the electricity meter.  

Cartoon sketch of man and woman sharing a cocktail and some love across the table..cartoon by Lorne Brown

The Forth pensioner has a different perspective on the world.  It appears love and romance is always uppermost in his mind. A man who has already had two marriages and umpteen long term relationships.  At the age of 70 he’s now embarking on another one. Clearly, he’s exhausted the supply of eligible women in this country, as he has now crossed the Atlantic for his new conquest in the USA. Sadly the state pension and the exchange rate make it hard to sustain a long distance romance, but his determination and love will always win through.
We all discriminate,  age, sex, weight, clothes, money, disability and appearances. When I was a child, men of a certain age would sit around tables playing dominos, smoking in dingy bars and coughing their last.  I knew where I was with this kind of male pensioner.  I guess they were my inspiration, of sorts.

How can my generation compete with today’s pensioner? I shudder at the thought of trying to live up to their lofty standards. What’s waiting for me: blind naked sky diving, blind crocodile wrestling, what about blind bungee jumping into a shallow bath of piranhas?
Come on guys, calm down a bit and give us a chance. Leave something for us that wont result in permanent injury or death. Given that my generation is very much part of the baby boomers, perhaps future Governments wont be too unhappy with these hobbies . At least it will save them paying out future pensions should the parachute fail to open.       
   

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