Can I be in your gang?

10 Sep 2023

I am safe, comfortable, well fed, lots of possible occupations, private swimming pool! But my companions are probably on average mid-80’s, I am often tempted not to leave my room, today near to murder! But I have to adjust, the die is cast, and the title led to thinking of the ‘Seven ages of Man’.

At the village school, age 5 – 14, in the war, we all played in the same playground, group games, skipping. We might walk home with another pupil, be hurt if not invited to a party, but the circumstances did not make for deep friendships. Then grammar school, 10 to 16 or 18. Best friends, gangs, crushes, the shame of being last picked for the team because you were slow or fat. Boy friends not much in conversation – kept on a pretty strong leash. Few pop stars:  crooners, Hollywood stars, copying their hair styles (if you dared). The pig farmers’ daughters bleached their hair, you could hear the disapproval in the 469 bus (still running).

Then, let’s say ‘Mr and Mrs Average’, could last 30 years, working life, friends in your profession, the awful company ‘dos’. Your childrens’ school friends, hoped did not last long, you had to be polite to their Mums. Some people I know have kept friendships going from their early school days. University friendships seem to last (many marriages came from university friendships).

Then super retirement, if you were lucky like us (also daring, we went into ‘unknown’ territory, new country, new language, new culture.) Then the 70’s and 80’s, which provoked my last post, where to end your days. Probably the saddest and most traumatic of the ‘seven ages’. Agonising over your children, health problems – not life threatening but upsetting quality of life, hip, knee replacements, diabetes, and the ‘nasties’, the big ‘C’, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, strokes. And, from last week, having to succumb to not being able to look after yourself any more.

This is where I am at (grammar??). And it has led unerringly to the title. In my superior ‘Old Folks’ home there are established cliques and clans, people got together for cards, scrabble etc. There is an invisible fence round them, newcomers not welcome. I was playing dominoes after dinner with two others, the group grew, now people leave the table in a hurry to get their place. To suggest we start a separate game would be useless. Today has been extremely hot, I am the only one who uses the excellent facilities in the garden. At lunch a very nasty lady made a remark about my hair, I took no notice. But the worst gossip took exception – came out and railed at me because SHE was upset on MY behalf. She has never read a book, joins in no activities. She is 88, wears tight jeans and totters round on very high heels. She wears scarves with beads round them. If  there is  a news item ‘Murder in a French Old Folks’ home’ it will be with that scarf. 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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