Saturday, 6 January 2018

Welcome to the new year

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I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid I wouldn’t have thought I’d be around to celebrate the arrival of 2018. Life expectancy was a tad shorter back then, but modern medicine has done wonders for our generation and I’ve learnt with proper care the human body will last a lifetime.

In “As you like it” William Shakespeare talks about the seven ages of man, but at my age there are just four: ill, pill, bill and then will.

I’m doing my best to maintain my sense of humour; they say happy people resist disease better than unhappy people. In other words the surly bird catches the germ.

Anyway the Bible says we cannot get any older than 120 so I’m setting my sights on seeing in the New Year in 2060.

Those mathematically inclined among you will have deduced that I came into the world in 1940. Mind you, if my father hadn’t been so shy and retiring I’d be three years older than I am now. At about the same time I was born Churchill was intoning that “this was their finest hour” and my parents thought he was talking about them. This illusion was maintained right up until I reached adolescence and then they wished they had sent me off to the war. Dad always disowned my misbehavior by claiming I was abandoned on their doorstep. I wasn’t actually found there; our door opened outwards, and they discovered me two somersaults out on the roadway. He reckons there was a note pinned on my shawl, it read: “Keep your head down, the door opens out. Mum!”

And so I was an unwanted child; my father spent weeks trying to find a loophole in my birth certificate and when I was born he tried to collect on his accident insurance. My mother went to the clinic to seek an abortion but it was too late, I was already in primer three. When I went to school my parents used to paint the house a different colour and change the number on our front gate.

Dad taught me to swim by taking me out to Castlepoint, rowing out in the bay and dropping me off. Swimming to shore wasn’t so bad; getting out of the bag was the hard part. As a teenager I had such terrible acne that my dog used to call me Spot.

By the time you’ve reached your late seventies you’ve learnt everything, but you can’t remember any of it. I don’t know what they went back to before the advent of drawing boards and I haven’t a clue what the best thing was prior to the invention of sliced bread. One old codger reckoned if they’d had electric blankets and sliced bread in his day he’d never have got married.

I’m in really good health, though I do have aids. Don’t panic Mr. Mainwaring; I’m talking about the hearing variety. They weren’t cheap; about nine thousand dollars. An old friend who died a few years ago and who was a technical engineer by profession took his apart and reckoned all up they contained about a $1.45s worth of components. Obviously those who assemble them are on more than the minimum wage.

It’s amazing though how your perception of age changes. When I was a kid I thought seventy-seven was really, really old, but now that I have got there I regard it as middle aged at most. However my four kids, insensitive little brats that they are, assure me that I am old. I remember when I turned sixty my daughter worked out that I was a sexagenarian, something I had known all my life but hadn’t been able to put a name to.

Someone asked me just last week: “Have you lived in Masterton all your life?”

“Not yet,” I said.

“If I knew how old I was going to get I would have taken more care of myself.” - George Coote


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