I have concluded that I am officially growing old. The use of my reading glasses is causing a massive internal struggle between resistance to ageing and the reality that they really do make a difference. Equally middle aged spread is spreading rather too rapidly and the hair on my head is getting thinner, whiter and further back and even my beard is showing signs of salt and pepper colouring. But most of all, it is the fact that I seem to be turning into my mother. Now, I do not mean that in any derogatory way at all, but, scarily, I can see so many of her ways starting to emerge in my own behaviour.
Recently, I went to the theatre in Manchester. My first realisation of the day was standing at the kitchen sink, filling a water bottle with orange cordial to take with me, as I couldn’t see the point of paying for a bottle of pop to take into the theatre. As I glanced at my reflection in the kitchen window, I could see my face morph into my mother’s face; staring back at me and giving me a wry smile.
On the train journey over the Pennines, there were three young girls on the table opposite who spent the majority of the journey complaining about a faux hangover (they were far too young to drink), preening themselves with make-up which was applied whilst using the back of their iPhone as an impromptu mirror and talking giddily about grown up things like how exciting the sixth-form was. The way that they were talking, anyone would think that they had invented doing A-Levels and going out and getting drunk. My days of college tuition and wondering if I looked old enough to get served at the bar seemed a very long way away. This was coupled with my ongoing old(er) person’s amazement at the progress of technology. I was actually sat on the train using my mobile phone, which is not that much bigger than a box of Swan Vesta, to send a birthday message to my friend in Australia and knew that it would be there in a matter of milliseconds. The Atari 2600 was never like this.
Over the course of the day, there was a plethora of further realisations of my progression in life. The value of the Tupperware in the pound shop. Discussing how I would much rather stay in on a Friday night with a bottle of wine and a DVD than go out to a pub. Standing in a shop listening to thrash metal blare out over the speakers, whilst, in my head, being able to hear my mother’s voice saying in unison with mine “how on Earth can you call that noise music?”. Insisting on using the toilets in Debenhams as “at least you know they will be clean”. Baulking at the youngsters over the top / borderline pornographic displays of public affection. And finally, bemoaning the fact that that I would not have bought any of the olives from the street market, because they were in open baskets and everyone had been coughing and spluttering over them all day.
But the final realisation came as I left the theatre; given that I had been the first person on my feet, singing and dancing awkwardly in the narrow space between the rows of seats at the finale, without recourse to what anyone who was seated behind me and viewing this disturbing spectacle actually thought. The thing was, I didn’t actually care. I used to sink into my theatre seat, wholly overcome by shame and embarrassment, when my mother used to shout “He’s behind you” at the pantomime when I was younger.
But here I was, doing exactly what my mother would have done – dancing and clapping along like a demented loon in the theatre and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
As I headed to the train station, I glared at the young things heading out for their night out on the town, when all I could think about was getting on the sofa for a nap. But I happily felt comfortable and content in the knowledge that, as I entered the station and got on the train, my bottle of wine and DVD was waiting for me at home… and comfortable and content in the knowledge that I wouldn’t want to swap their evening for mine. This growing old thing isn’t so bad after all.
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In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.