Thick But Cute: It Beats Running Like A Toilet Duck

I try to act like I’m not old, but Life keeps sending me horrid reminders  

A man with a hammer chases a running toilet duck
Original images: Aaron Thomas/Pixabay and Rene Rauschenberger/Pixabay

I’M OLD! OLD! Old as mould….

I mean: I try to act like age is just a number.

I try to stay just a bit current and not put limitations on what I can do at 50-something.

I try to keep improving, but Life always finds a way to remind me that, every day, I’m even more decrepit than I ever have been…

Sometimes the reminders are brutal – like the other day, when I FaceTimed with my (much younger) supervisor at the charity where I’m doing some website work.

It’s always horrible – that first second when you are confronted with your true self on a big, pixel-rich screen – but this particular encounter was more than usually unfair.

“I looked bad. So, so bad. It was like my boss was in conference with a grinning fuchsia balloon”

My boss is a nice-looking bloke in his early thirties, with good skin, great hair, and an outstanding beard – whereas I’m bald, have a perma-bad complexion and I can’t get up more than a light dusting of grey/white stubble.

So far, so uncomfortable, but he was also sitting in subdued light and rocking a soft, on fleek high neck.

Whereas I was in my bobbly ‘at home’ jumper, with the sunlight blazing through the window behind me highlighting every skin imperfection and turning my face salmon pink.

Oh, I looked bad. So, so bad. It was like my boss was in conference with a grinning fuchsia balloon.  

After that, I watched an ill-advised episode of Better Things when Sam both contemplates a facelift and gets “cock-blocked” by a much younger woman when she’s on a promise – then whines to her gay friend about being so fucking old.

I run like a two metre high ‘S’, head and shoulders angled down like a toilet duck”

But, even then, it might have been all right if it hadn’t glimpsed my reflection running in a shop window yesterday…

I feel so good on a run that I always expect to see a young will-o’-the-wisp type figure reflected back at me – flowing forward, barely kissing the pavement.

But, in fact, I shuffle around like a two-metre high ‘S’, head and shoulders angled down like a toilet duck.

My back is also bent and my legs not straight but concertina-ed downwards.

So when tiredness kicks in, I slouch lower and lower, as if someone is running after the ‘S’ with a mallet and gradually hammering it into the ground.

Being good at quizzes seems like a pretty thin consolation for looking old”

I was so fucked off about ageing that even the great Richard Nicholls barely helped.

My favourite psychotherapist had recorded a timely podcast called ‘Growing Old’ – sensibly pointing out it was better than the alternative (i.e. not ageing and joining the choir invisible).

He also argued that the real problem with ageing was the way we only noticed the bad things about it – and that people in middle age actually outperformed Da Yoot in some areas, precisely because we’d lived longer.

For example, the immune systems of many 50-something men are better than those of younger blokes, because the oldsters have already coped with most of the viruses around.

I’d like to be pretty again for a while. Maybe get my hair back, even if it meant being less clever”

Mature folk also tend not to get quite so worked up by frustrating events and people, while we are sick at quizzes (it’s true: I’ve been rinsing my family at Mastermind and University Challenge so comprehensively lately that I’m thinking seriously of entering…)

But, all the same, these seem like pretty thin consolations for looking old.

If I had the choice, I think I’d still like to be pretty again for a while. Maybe get my hair back, even if it meant being less clever.

“Beau et con a la fois”, as the Jacques Brel* song goes.

Translated, it means : “Thick but cute.”

I’d definitely settle for that now…

*Jacques Brel, singer-songwriter and leading light of the 1950s and 60s French chanson movement; an influence on David Bowie, Paul Weller and Nirvana, you young bloody know-nothings!


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