...and then it is Winter

'This weekend I pass my actual 73rd Birthday, although I have been referring to myself as that age because of the old 'does the first year born count' etc. Now it will be formal. 73? in another 7 years 80?

Today I was sent this wonderful email from an old mate in Australia. He doesn't say where he found it, but it doesn't matter. I congratulate the person who wrote it as being the perfect summation of getting older.

I add it here. I know it is quite long, but it is full of golden nuggets (or maybe silver ones?) so worth the effort, even for young people tryng to understand us oldies:


You know.....Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems like just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my Mate.

Yet in a way it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But here it is....the Winter of my life, and it catches me by surprise...How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people though the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that Winter was so far off that I couldn't fathom it or fully imagine what it would be like.

But here it is...my friends are retired and getting grey...they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better shape than me and some in worse shape than me...but I see the great change. Not like the ones I remember who were young and vibrant...but like me folks we used to see but never thought we would be... showing their age, and WE are now those older folks.

Each day now, I find taking a shower is a real target for the day, and taking a nap is not a treat anymore...it's mandatory! Because if I don't go of my own free will I just fall asleep where I sit.

And so , as I now enter this new season of my life unprepared for the aches and pains and the loss of strength and to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did. But at least I KNOW that Winter has come, and I am not sure how long it will last.... but I hope that when it is over a whole new adventure will begin.

Yes, I have regrets, things I wish I hadn't done, and things I should have done. Then again there are many things I am happy I have done - it's all in a lifetime.

So if YOU are not in your Winter yet, let me remind you it will be here faster than you think. So whatever you would like to accomplish in your life do it quickly. Do what you can today, as you can never be sure if it is your Winter or not. You have no promise tht you will see all the seasons of your life... so live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope they will remember you kindly.

Some things to remember;

Going out is Good, but coming Home is Better!

You forget names, but that's OK because other people forget they ever knew you!

You realise you are never going to be really good at anything - especially Golf!

You sleep better in front of the TV with the sound blaring than you do in bed. It's called 'pre-sleep'.

You miss the days when everything just worked with an 'ON' and 'OFF' switch.

You use a lot more four-letter words- 'What?' When? Your life is punctuated by ???????

What used to be freckles are now liver spots.

Everybody whispers.

You have three sizes of clothes in your wardrobe. Two of which don't fit any more.

.....BUT Old is good in some ways. Old Songs, Old Films, but best of all OLD FRIENDS!!

So stay well Old Friend, and remember its not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what sort of life you have lived.'

Thank you Kent ,I think I was pre-acquiring my age, sort of getting used to it?

Haven't seen the film, but I used to say that as from this year I am going to start counting backwards as they say you enter a second childhoodand end up doing all those things you did as a baby. Perish the thought.

But then I saw the film, the name of which escapes me, where Brad Pitt was born old and did precisely that 'grew younger'. I found it very moving, but changed my mind about counting backwards!

Anybody recall the name of it? (Another senior moment!)

Happy Birthday, Norman, and no, the first year doesn't count: you're "1" once you have lived those first "12 months" - albeit you would be "in your first year". That's where a lot of the "1999ers" got it wrong, trying to tell us that in 1999 it was already 2000, it wasn't: we were in our 2000th year but it wasn't the year 2000.

'Scuse all that waffle; just trying to say that you've been "in your 73rd year" but this weekend you will actually be SEVENTY THREE - and that's not a bad run for your money so far - and I hope there's MANY MORE good ones to come.

Just watched "Any Human Heart", on DVD that friends lent us. It's the saga of one man's life from cradle to grave. But, even though it's well acted, directed, screened and set; seeing all his friends pop off before him until it's just him - alone - in rural France; was something I didn't see the point of and didn't need. For me, it didn't make up for the one big love in his life. So I hope that's not amongst your pressies.

It's all right here - right now, mate. Have a great birthday - and a great day everyday.

That's nice. Neat coded message between those you love. Like it.

Someone sent me an email about a mum leaving her daughter at the airport and in parting wished her "enough", a passerby asked her why, she explained,enough sunshine to appreciate the rain, enough rain to appreciate the sunshine, enough noise to appreciate the silence, enough silence to appreciate noise......you get the idea!I love it.

Hi Denise and Amelia, glad you liked it. One of things 'I wish I had written' but didn't. Somebody somewhere did and as it was passed to me, so I pass it on to others.

I have discovered a formula that works for me, and which I have referred to earlier, elsewhere. I call it the '100 years from today' formula from an old song. Who will remember or care about us or our problems '100 years from today' so why make big deals about things that ultimately really don't matter?

As others have said we are only here for a short time, at it is incumbent on us to make the most of it - good and bad. Think how boring life would be with out the 'downs' to make us appreciate the 'ups'.

Does anyone else rmember a character called 'Monsewer Eddie Grey'? Part time member of the Crazy Gang?

He made comment that stuck with me over the years, which he used when being boo'ed by an audience.

'C'mon be fair, without us rubbish, how would you know if something was good?' I have asked myself the same question about those athletes who never win, but turn up just the same. Without them to beat how would we judge champions?

Settling for what we are is sometimes hard, particularly if surrounded by critics, but it is the only way to contentment - particularly when we get older, deafer and slower. 'The Hundred Years from Today' philosophy(?) helps me get over these times (all too frequently now from some of those around me).

Loved this post, Norman, my husband and I both fall into this category and have days when it takes twice as long to do anything than it used to but regard ourselves as being exceptionally lucky to have lived our lives, good and bad, and to have come this far without any major ailments, living in peace and harmony in this beautiful country. I felt moved to copy and post it on Facebook for all our friends and relatives in UK who seem to have such a frustrating time, maybe they will remember we only have NOW ...........

There is, I think, a new program on the english tv about a man who takes a pill and knows everything about everything, only seen the trailers, but I think he implodes at the end!! Acceptance is a great tool towards mental peace, just so hard to do it!!

Brian, we share even more than I thought. One day we will just have to meet up and compare even more notes!

Annie, you are absolutely right. Maybe knowing too much would also drive us nuts! You remind me of that scene in the last Indian Jones film where the German(?) lady scientist demanded to know everything from the glass crystal? She got her wish and her brain exploded. Interesting thought?

Norman, I havealways thought of life a jigsaw! Each of us in place so the picture can be complete, we need even the boring bits of blue which are so hard to fit if the picture is to be finished. I have never believed we can see all the finished picture or even understand what that image is , we dont need to, we just need to fill our place the best we can, perhaps a bonkers idea but hey I never said I was sane!!!!

That is just lovely! I especially like the idea that one must be coscious of our age and profit!!!Thank you for posting it,

Thank you Norman. Erudition and knowledge... Hahaha. I have, or at least really had, an eidetic memory. I mostly bunked school from fourteen on and went to a café to play pinball, poker, drink coffee and talk about girls, etc. I was not even in the top class of my year. I was just able to read a selection of the right books the night before an exam and pass easily. In certain thins like maths, I never understood algebra, geometry or trigonometry that require calculation so was never even entered into a maths exam. Ditto the other sciences. Things like languages, history, geography and English literature were a cakewalk. I have never achieved 'O' level English because it was essentially analytical. However, I came something like fourth from over 120 in my year at 'O' level and was predicted to do similarly at 'A' level so was put down for a top university, got all of the eight I was entered for and my place confirmed. I was, my headmaster said, the highest by two 'A's. All with no work whatsoever, thank the photographic memory.

Once the boy was taken off the council estate to the posh university I learned to learn and developed a thirst for knowledge. I also learned how to use the eidetic memory skills to take it all in, then learned the skills of processing, analysing and using knowledge and have done ever since. My ability to do so has declined some but it still serves me well. Erudition probably does not come in to it really. It is not really intelligence but knowing how to use knowledge in my case.

My father, I knew, but wish I had not. He was a vicious creature. Once when working for him on site during an Easter holiday, I dropped a sack of cement. He bashed me about in front of his people then left me on the ground. None of the blokes working for him dared offered me a hand up because he would have done the same again, then sacked whoever. I eventually got him. I played rugby, tennis, climbed, rode (because HE wanted me to be a jockey) and either just riding a bike or delivering papers and as the butcher's boy and the occasional spell on one of his sites built up a strong body. One day he went for me but I retaliated and in the end drove him into the bath where he cowered and pleaded for me to stop. I hardly ever spoke to him again ever and only ever struck anybody back in defence if absolutely no other choice remained. When I have worked with child abuse over the years, I have found it emotionally draining to this day because of my own childhood. So I can empathise with you and can imagine why the memories are suppressed.

Life is an endless mystery. I have vivid memories of some things and only a memory like a memo for other things. It does not matter about importance, significance or whatever, simply how certain events fit as stepping stones in my life. I can remember being three or four years old in Cologne clearly, much of my life from nearly eight to eighteen in London in snapshots with little detail. I can remember seminars to the last word discussed but for the life of me whole two or three month trips to country X are almost nothing. That is not age, it has always been that way. Selective memory as they say. I don't mind. It adds to the mystery, what you call a jigsaw puzzle, of life itself. I have questions too. What would have become of my son had I been given custody instead of his grandparents? Would he have been an interesting human being instead of the bland insurance executive he is now? Too late, so I am investing what energy I have to my young daughters now. I shall work until I drop, mostly for them but also because I have never been truly provident and when I was as close as I could be I chose one of the pension schemes that went totally bust. I am angry about that, but not biter and twisted as so many people are. It happened, dust off hands and move on. C'est la vie.

I like SFN, I also very much like the Higginson attitude and approach with which I can identify. It is why I became such a 'loyalist'. However, having said that, I have a business meeting on Skype later and should prepare plus the contract I am finishing by late next week has (finally) sent me all remarks for me to work on and there is just about enough for me to bluff through by not actually doing very much but pretending it will be a major effort and stress. So, now to those two things. Life goes on...

Brian, great stuff and a lovely read. I have only done the marriage thing three times, with this last one being 38 years this year. Not without problems I admit, although she is only 8 years my junior, these sometimes seem greater as one gets older. Maybe it's fear of being with an old man, and recognising one's own advancing years. Who knows? One thng I have never claimed is an understanding of the other sex.

One thing you raised is also familiar to me - that of a strong recollection of an old love of many moons ago, in between Nos 1 and 2. I see her face very often now, and wonder how much it would gave changed, and whgat woukld have been my life if we had made a match. We never know these things do we?

I suspect we share other things, but my life was never planned, and I went wherever an opportunity presented itself - or seemed to present itself. Sometimes not great times, but always interesting. As I mentioned much earlier I have always had a (recognised) complex about my background and lack of education. Oddly the lack of a father didn't become an open emotional issue until I hit my 60's, and the revelation by my elder brother that I was a severely beaten child is still curious to me, as apart from one occasion only do I remember this happening. The memory obviously buried deep within me, that even i can't dredge it up. There was never any subtlety about me being unwanted, as that was a daily expression from my Mother. Curiously (again) whilst there was no love towards me, I still respected her for her sense of responsibility - even if it was in the form of public duty.

Life was and remains a bloody great jigsaw puzzle to me, with great swathes of ignorance being the missing pieces. I know I will die still wondering what the Hell it was all about, and why I was put on this planet? I am not a pessimist, although I see much that would worry me if I had ever been a parent, so the best I can do is keep trying to find pieces and make them fit, but I know the puzzle will never be finished in any tangible way.

My painting, writing and books production and wide interests are my lifeblood, but I am always awed by your erudition and knowledge, as with others on SFN. Keeps the old brain oiled.

Ah Norman, there I am eight and a half years in tow. Yet I share so many of these sentiments and thoughts. For instance, I have been through the mill four times, but this time I am sticking with it and have a young family AGAIN. No fool like and old fool, as is so rightly said.

Three years ago I went to a reunion of my school year, fifty years from going to the school. Among the things we discussed was how many of our original number had shed the mortal coil, when and how and also how many of us might make it to the fiftieth reunion of those of us who stayed on to the bitter sixth form end. I went to the reunion as a shock to most. Time had been remarkably kind and whilst I have grey and white of mane and beard it was as thick and curly as in my youth then, my skin unlined and subtle. I was as slim and sinewy muscular as ever. In fact, and not boasting but thanking blessings, the two men who were comparable had both been career sports teachers who had not smoked 40 Gauloise a day for several decades and loved a pint or six, a bottle of wine over dinner and all manner of evils. That is without the strains and stresses and occasional tropical illnesses that came with my work. Indeed, one of our number had become an undertaker! I pictured him measuring up several of my contemporaries there at the Old Boys clubhouse.

Since then, the organiser, one of the former sports teachers, has had a major heart attack and surgery and I have had my physical problems over the last year. I am a fighter, so I have to try to battle on for a few years until I get my replacement shoulder joint on the basis of the longer I can wait the better, because the blasted things have a life expectancy of about fifteen years... But yes a fighter, so I have taken all warnings and slowly my physical state is getting back in the direction of before with a hard dietary and exercise regime. The bottom line is that I shall never be as I was, age is winning.

Age does not mellow really, well not in my case. Whatever has happened, probably my greatest regret is that one particular girl and I said 'bye-bye' one day and parted. I say girl, since we were under twenty-one and boy and girl is what we were in those days. Both eighteen, but boy and girl for all of that. There was no intent of not seeing each other again, indeed we were planning to go on holiday together that summer. It was simply that I was a student an hour away by train and the social life and other activities in that world meant I did not show at our normal meeting place for several weeks. She did not show up, so I did something else. Pushing half a century on and I think of her more frequently. I was so in love with her and let it go without seeing where that would go. When I give it serious thought I still am, perhaps nostalgia has made her all the more beautiful than she was and my feelings more so. We all have regrets, for me none is greater.

I will still happily go out to hear music. When I was young quite a few of my friends were musicians. Our 'driving force' was the local R'n'B scene. We had the Rolling Stones who we saw regularly, for instance somewhere I have the ticket from Cheam Baths Hall where I paid two bob to see them and the legendary Yardbirds were the support act. Later, as music got heavier, I knew passingly one of Deep Purple and did lots of 'stage door' free gigs which meant sitting very close to the band play. I saw the Who, American giants like Grateful Dead and so on. Today I cannot abide that volume, the music scrambles in my head. I will happily, funds allowing, go to Wagner's Ring Cycle operas or any Mahler symphony that are incredibly loud, but they are more well ordered so that I can withstand them. For all of that, I still love much of the music from the past, but quietly on the stereo!

I used to easily go 48 hours without sleep, even into my forties. Now I stretch it with about fifteen hours. I have always been a very early riser, but now bedtime is becoming ever earlier. I now no longer worry about eternal sleep but treat it as inevitable and drawing ever closer. First I would like to see my children grow up, I suspect I might actually survive my almost two decade younger OH who does not take medical advice seriously at all. Strange to say, morbid perhaps, but of all the people I know, have known and loved, I do not want to be the last one 'to put out the light'. It is a thought that has come to me recently and I am not sure whether it is actually morbid or not, but age makes lonely anyway and after many, many years of being alone among many people in many places, I do not want to be ultimately alone.

Life has been great, an adventure with many mishaps, always exciting and in its way creative. Memories are still being built on but I shall not write an autobiography. There are already too many and they bore me rigid, so I shall not do the same to the world. Two things though, if I ever lose my taste for a large nip of very good malt then I shall definitely know it is time to give up and also if people start taking me only seriously then it will be time to shut up. I suspect there is only one way that will be achieved.