What about old people in a shopping queue? | ALEJANDRO SEPULVEDA


I don’t think that anyone likes to be patronised, but - on reaching a certain age in life, it seems that being regularly patronised is a social necessity nowadays. It’s bad enough anyway, but with the outbreak of you-know-what, everyone seems to want to talk to anyone of ‘mature’ years as if they were 8 years old or more than a little stupid. You will have to take my word for the fact that I am still okay in the upstairs department and am still capable of undertaking occasional tennis, long walks and shouting vigorously at the television when irked. And just recently dear reader, I have been irked quite considerably by all and sundry. I was hoping to swerve around the subject of coronavirus in this column today, but alas, the subject is all encompassing I’m afraid. However, my sights are not set on the virus itself, but upon the reaction of some people to the older members of their communities that ranges from the pathetic to the absurd.

Take my good-self - sturdy of frame, firm of buttock, whilst flat(ish) of stomach and with a head of hair all of my own, I am reasonably fit - and only occasionally forget stuff in an embarrassing fashion. In short - I’m ‘Up together’ in most aspects of life and don’t appreciate being described as “older people” by some overweight lump, pontificating from a television sofa about how “the elderly” need their bloody help. As someone in my advanced 60’s - I rather resent being picked out for special measures, or even worse, used as a sort of symbol of mumbled regret by a post teenage snowflake who would collapse in tears if separated from her iPhone for more than 30 seconds. Indeed, to argue against myself, I watched an extract on social media where some dreadful little thing, made the point that if anyone was going to die of Covid-19 it wouldn’t be a bad thing if it was any of us coffin dodgers, and not - “Like anyone - like, young and stuff, like.” Nevertheless, my argument, is more with those who would treat the over sixties as if we were a wee-bit silly - you know, a bit slow but adorable? Alas, already I have been severely censured when a shop-assistant asked me, “Any assistance sir?” only to get a - “No, go away” - for their trouble.

What annoys me the most I think, is for people not to seem to understand the gradients of ageing. For instance, would you treat a 5 year-old in the same way as you would treat a 30 year-old? Of course you wouldn’t, you couldn’t otherwise someone would be called to take you somewhere safe from yourself. Yet, someone who has just breasted the 60 year-old tape of life, is supposed to behave both physically and mentally in the same fashion as an 85 year-old. Absolutely ridiculous! It also has to be said that in my current visit to the county of Gloucestershire, I will not be the first to mention the fact that a large minority of young people living locally - an awful lot of them are currently challenging the scale that goes between overweight to morbidly obese. I can also assure you, that not many pensioners fall into that bracket, so patronise us ….why don’t you! It also should be remembered that those in the 60 plus age group, make up for a large percentage of any modern community and are mostly law abiding (nothing else to do!) solvent and neighbourly. This age-group of ours also invented sex as we know it - pop music, pretentious art and overstatement.

Mind you, the first person to knock on my door and says - “I’ll keep an eye on you if you like” gets a punch in the mouth. You see, like many of My-Gggggeneration, I’d always hoped - “to die, before I get old.” But didn’t really mean it, especially when you take a look at the ‘sorts’ who will be taking our places. Anyway, putting all that to one side, it is that hardly spoken insinuation that because you are over sixty, you have suddenly become slow-witted and in need of comfort and assurance from people you know couldn’t find their own arses in the dark on a moonlit night. It’s true, it really is. I know that I shouldn’t be too critical of genuine people, just trying to help, but it’s just that I wish that they could ‘lose’ the soppy voice and the breathless delivery when they do so. It is exactly the same on social-media, “Come on you older people - keep safe” is a modern day mantra that has my upper lip curling in an alarming fashion. I want to type something nasty and virulent in reply, but when I read my words, they sounds nasty, repellent and old person(ish) - which, by definition, they are I’m afraid, so I don’t.

Who do I prefer, the young woman with the bad hair, mangled vowels, and an attitude problem, who wishes me and my kind an early death - or, the simpering stranger, who treats you as if you have just wet the bed, but don’t know it yet? I have to say that it’s a marginal call - but, I have to say that the unsympathetic youngster gets my vote every time. I wonder if this is because there is more dignity in being disliked, or even better, resented - than being mewled over as if you were completely gaga.