Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

So Tired.

I had a good sleep last night, but woke up feeling overwhelmingly tired. I did do a fair bit of grass-cutting yesterday, and I am not as fit as I used to be. But this isn’t the usual aches and pains associated with moderate manual labour. This is bone tired. Reluctant to emerge from the bedroom.

I considered that it was mental tiredness. That led me to wonder if you can indeed be ‘mentally tired’. Does life sometimes just get too much to cope with? And does that mean that there is something wrong somewhere inside me? I shrugged that off, as the last thing I am is a hypochondriac.

But I cannot deny the reality of how I feel. The sluggishness, the apathy, the indecision.

I feel as if I could go back to bed and lie down again. I might not sleep, but the idea is there, undoubtedly. A Sunday awaits me, with all its possibilities. And yet I see none of them. Instead, I am just feeling tired.

Is this a product of getting older, I wonder? If so, I sincerely hope that it doesn’t become a regular feature of my life now.

On a day when so much could yet happen, and lots could still be done, my first thought is to escape back to bed, and avoid all of that.

Not a nice way to think, as I am sure you will agree.

Showing your age

I saw this image online this morning. Some of the brands may not mean much to readers outside of the UK, but you get the idea.

What made me smile was that I was far from young when many of these things became popular. And it is not that long ago that I finally threw away my last VHS blank tapes.

Some films about old people

Another film post from 2013. I must have been feeling my age at the time! I don’t think any of you have seen this one. More relevant to those over 40, I suspect.

beetleypete

For obvious reasons, most popular films have characters who are either youthful and attractive, or middle-aged and powerful. Few films tackle the issues of old age, or have an older person as the lead interest. Here are some recommendations of films where the film-makers were brave enough to put their trust in older actors, and achieve often startling results. Some of those cast were very famous, and just getting on a bit; others may well be unknown to most, or all of us.

Gran Torino. An obvious choice perhaps, this 2008 film stars the then 78 year old Clint Eastwood, who also directs. This film is not what you might expect. It deals with the changing face of middle America, issues of immigration, presumption, and revenge. The story is probably well-known, but has its strength in how the main character, Walt Kowalski, (a solid performance by Eastwood) is forced…

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Losing friends

One of the most depressing aspects of getting older is the loss of family members to illness or old age. I was quite young when my maternal grandfather died, but remember it well. It was an introduction to the loss of older relatives that prepared me for many more that came later.

However, I don’t think I was ever prepared for the loss of so many friends. For some reason, I grew up thinking that my close friends would be around for as long as I was, and their unexpected loss came as a harder blow than that of very elderly relatives who had lived long lives.

But you forget you are getting to an age where friends begin to pass away too. It just creeps up on you, but never gets any easier to deal with.

Last week, I was informed of the death of another close friend. Someone I had known since I was 28 years old, so almost forty years of friendship. As I received the text message from his wife, I was struck by the fact that I was holding the last letter he had sent me, preparing to reply to it that morning.

I met James Cassidy on my first day at the London Ambulance Training School. He was an experienced Paramedic who had chosen to become a training officer. As our large group of new entrants sat nervously eyeing each other in a big classroom, he walked in to introduce himself as our class instructor. Within minutes, his easy manner had relaxed everyone. He joked and laughed with us as if he had always known us, and when we went for a tea break, we all agreed that we were lucky to have got such a character to guide us through the long weeks of training to come. We also concluded that any job that could produce such a man must indeed be a good choice of career.

The next weeks of training showed his caring and commonsense nature to the full. He helped those who found it hard going, and continued to encourage us, as well as never sugar-coating the harsh realities of the job we would soon be doing. On completion of the classroom training, he became my personal instructor for the on-road, real life training. Six weeks of 999 calls, in one of the busiest ambulance stations in central London. Non-stop emergencies of all kinds, with very few days off.

During that time, Jim and I became firm friends. In between jobs, we would have long debates about politics, life experience, travel, literature, and the pros and cons of life in the emergency services. But once my training was over, I moved on to my permanent posting, and Jim went back to take on his next class of new entrants. But we didn’t let that distance stop us keeping in touch, and began many years of correspondence by letter, something that endured even after emails had become the norm. I only bumped into him occasionally over the years, sometimes at headquarters, or at retirement celebrations. But we kept in touch as frequently as our busy lives allowed.

Many years later, Jim left his training role, for promotion to Divisional Officer, in east London. Despite his elevation in rank, we stayed in contact just the same, right up until the time I was due to leave London for good, and retire to Norfolk. Jim and his wife came to my leaving party in 2012, and he promised to visit me in East Anglia. And he kept that promise. When he retired and bought a motor caravan, he arranged to bring it to a site close to Beetley, and we spent two marvellous days catching up. In his last letter to me, he mentioned that he would be coming to visit again, this time with his wife, and hopefully in the summer of 2019.

But that was sadly never to be, and his unexpected death last week came as a great shock indeed.

So rest in peace, my friend Jim. A great bloke, a true and loyal companion through most of my life, and never forgotten.

Thinking Aloud on Easter Sunday

Movements, and sounds.

Regular readers will know that I am not religious. I actually forgot that last Friday was Good Friday, and I was surprised that the supermarket is closed today. For those of you that celebrate this season in that way, I wish you a Happy Easter, and a peaceful weekend.

But this morning I woke up hearing a noise. It took a while for me to realise that I had made that noise, something resembling a strangled cry, as I turned over in bed. My body was telling me that I had been in one position too long, and that it also didn’t like the amount of effort required to change direction.

I can’t really remember the first time I started to make noises associated with the simple process of moving around. But I do remember my Mum having to make some sort of ‘grunt’ to assist her to get out of an armchair. And when she sat back down in one, she would let out a sound something like a long “Oooff”, as she rested back against the cushion. At the time, I used to find this amusing. Little did I know that those sounds would soon be coming from my own mouth.

It seems that I can no longer rise from the sofa, or sit back on one, without associating the movement with an audible groan or strange cry. I have actually tried to stop it happening, but with no success. And it is not restricted to sitting and standing. Scratching a particularly itchy insect bite last year, I was shocked to hear myself letting out some kind of high-pitched wail as I did so. At first, I didn’t even realise it was me making the noise.

Settling down in bed unleashes a repertoire of sighs that could well be set to music. Stretching out under the duvet has to be attempted carefully, in case of attracting a bout of muscle cramp in one leg. If that happens, it will be accompanied by cries of pain that are something like those heard on a Maternity Labour Ward. If I escape that, then cat-like purs of contentment issue from my lips, followed by expulsions of breath that can rustle the pages of a magazine, inflating my cheeks until I resemble the jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie.

Getting into my low corner bath is easy enough, but climbing back out after bathing is another matter entirely. I have to adopt the tried and tested ‘extrication’ method. Hands grasp the sides, legs and feet drawn up to get purchase on the bottom of the bath, then up in a single movement, accompanied by my personal bath grunt, sounding something like ‘Aaargh’. Without that grunt, I am convinced I would never emerge from the bath water.

Outside the home, I cannot avoid my new ‘language’. Climbing into the driving seat of my car doesn’t appear to require much effort, but it is always accompanied by a distinct ‘Oooff’, which makes me remember my Mum, every time I set off to drive somewhere. After a drive of less than thirty minutes, getting out of that same seat usually necessitates a few ‘Ows’, before I am on solid ground.

When you reach the age that you begin to hear unfamiliar and unnecessary sounds coming from you, try to remember this post.

Read it again, and realise that it is all just part of getting old.

The disappearing year

Hard to believe it is already the 6th of April. It won’t be long before some bloggers are counting down the days to Christmas, and I still have unused presents from the last one.

It must be an age thing, but this year seems to be flying past faster than any I have ever known. March felt like it only lasted a week, and before I know it, it will be May. I am haunted by the words of my late Mum, who talked often of how her life seemed to slip away, toward the end. When she remarked that she had hardly noticed a year pass by, in 2010, I thought she was exaggerating at the time.

Now I know exactly what she was talking about.

Maybe it is because I don’t have to work, and rarely leave the cosy confines of Beetley and central Norfolk. My days no longer drag waiting for work to finish, or dreading the shift to come the following day. I have an easier life, and a relatively contented one.

But a much quicker one, undoubtedly. 🙂

Too many candles

Today is my birthday. Regular readers will know that I always make a big deal about that. Previous birthdays have seen frequent trips to the seaside, or places of interest. I fear the weather is not going to cooperate today, so it will be a quieter celebration. I will restrict myself to opening my cards, and the few gifts I will receive.

Ollie thinks it is just another day of course. So his long walk will go ahead as usual, and he might be interested to sniff at my cards and parcels, hoping they contain unexpected treats for him.

We will go to the nearby Thai restaurant later. But it will just be a nice meal, nothing too celebratory.

And there will be no birthday cake.
I think that 67 candles is too many, for one cake.