Grumpy old people again…

Trying to address the question of why old people (some, not all), can be grumpy, I wrote this post in December last year, which has been remarkably popular, no more so than the last few days.

The original question was pulled from my search-engine slush-pile – a list of the search terms that bring people here. If it happens, as in this case, that it’s a subject I’ve not written about, then if it’s interesting enough, I probably will.

That there’s been ongoing interest in what, really, is Continue reading

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Journalism, real life – and the gulf between…

Two articles in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine rather got up my nose yesterday, striking me as self-indulgent in the extreme – or just plain odd.

One was an apparently normal, attractive, woman, Hephzibah Anderson, who, after a relationship fizzled (ah, diddums; you’re not alone, babe, it happens to us all), had decided to give up sex, but not dating, for a year. That’s just perverse, and must have Continue reading

Me, ME/CFS, COPD, and life…

In the beginning was the darkness…

Born into the slums, and amid the dark, Satanic mills, of Manchester, I think it’s fair to say that, from early childhood, I’ve never been well. Around the age of 2, simultaneous whooping cough and measles conspired to wreck my lungs, the upshot being that I had about 50% normal lung capacity on a good day when growing up, much less on bad days, and a massive susceptibility to respiratory infection. Had it not been for the arrival of antibiotics I wouldn’t be here to bitch about it, as I got pneumonia the way other kids got colds. As it was, it was a close-run thing. Continue reading

Smile, darn you, smile…

A Guardian journalist has put forward the idea that, because she actually saw a catwalk model smile, we all need to smile more and that, hey, wouldn’t it be great if the government got behind the idea! Well, no, it bloody wouldn’t, though it is the sort of dingbat idea they’d be likely to go for. Don’t encourage the buggers!

A smile is a response to a certain situation or stimulus, and random smiling is widely regarded as strange (unless you’re in the service industry – though it doesn’t apply in my local!). A normal person does not Continue reading

Protesters 1 – MI5 0

While I have no objection to anyone tossing green custard over Peter  “Lord of Convenience” Mandelson, I have to ask – where the hell was his security?

That the perpetrator, Leila Deen, a leading light with the environmental activist group Plane Stupid, could just walk up, throw the custard then walk away unhindered, to give interviews to the press, simply beggars belief. Whether you think embarrassing Continue reading

1 in 9 British residents born abroad…

The information that 1 in 9 British residents was born abroad was released by the Office of National Statistics on February 25. Apparently, this led to a spate of anti-government headlines in Britain. Not sure how wide-spread, as I missed them completely (so maybe not that widespread), and I spend a fair bit of time online reading newspapers.

Today, though, Phil Woolas, immigration minister is hopping up and down with fury, accusing the ONS of sinister motives. Really? Exactly what is sinister about the Office of National Statistics releasing, erm, a statistic? That’s what they do. For the record, that’s 6.5 million people who were born elsewhere.

The thing is, though, by waiting a week, Woolas is freshly stirring up a story that was fading away, so what’s his motive? He argues, rather eccentrically and somewhat pointlessly, “There are times in our history when the numbers of residents born overseas was higher than 1 in 9,” and “At the time of the Huguenot migration, the figure could have been as high as one in three.”

Well, as that was towards the end of the 17th century, when what we had most was lots of room, that’s utterly irrelevant. And let’s put some numbers with that – the population of England and Wales, by1700, was around 5.5 million, so the total population then (excluding Scotland), was a million less than the total number of immigrants now. How does that benefit Woolas’s argument? For me, that’s just providing the BNP with ammunition.

It’s true that, historically, this country was founded on immigration and conquest. The original population comprised related tribes of Britons, Scots/Gaels and Picts, Then the Romans came along – several times. Towards the middle of the first millennium AD there was an influx of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Friesians and Franks. They were followed by Danes and Norwegians (Vikings), with the Normans being the last of the conquerors.

Following the Norman conquest, there were many successive waves of normal immigration involving a wide variety of peoples (see http://www.sovereignty.org.uk/features/articles/immig.html to save me from plagiarism!), and it continues to this day, for better or worse. The difference, these days, is the sheer scale of immigration. 1 in 3 of a tiny population isn’t a lot, while 1 in 9 of a population numbering  60,943,912 as of July 2008 is, as we’ve seen a hell of a lot more significant.

So, before this is seen as a racist rant – it’s not, though I find the scale of immigration worrying and I’d find it more so if I needed a job, but that’s another issue – what’s the point? The point is that the ONS was perfectly within its remit to release that information. Woolas doesn’t think so, and said, in a letter to Fabian Society head Sunder Katwala (a letter, by the way, which is all over the press, so there are no copyright issues), “The justification from the ONS who had, out of schedule, highlighted the figure two weeks earlier because it was “topical” is, at best, naive or, at worst, sinister.”

Personally, I find it sinister that Woolas would have preferred the information to be kept under wraps until its “scheduled” release – whenever that might be. Never, maybe? What, exactly, did he hope to gain from such secrecy? I’d love to know, because all his frothing and ranting has accomplished is to provide the Conservatives with yet another stick with which to push  the already deeply mired Labour party in deeper. Nice work, Mr. Woolas, I hope you’re proud.

Why are old people grumpy?

I often respond to Google items that appear in my blog stats – this is one such: Why do old people get grumpy?

The answers to that question are legion – almost as many as there are old people. One thing that makes old people grumpy, though, is young people asking stupid questions like this! There are some valid generalisations, though.

It’s said, with a great deal of truth, that old age isn’t for wimps. When you reach a certain age, and this age is different for everybody, your body begins winding down towards death – in effect, it wears out – and the result is pain, which can often be severe and intransigent. And that’s for previously healthy people – those of us who are growing old with chronic illnesses, that we may have had for most of our lives, as in my case – and there are a lot more of us than you might think – are far worse off and, for us, the pain of the aging process, added to our existing pain, can be almost intolerable at times.

Then there are the psychological problems, as you comes to terms with the fact that your body can’t do things it could do only a couple of years ago, and that your brain isn’t as sharp as it once was, and you can’t do anything about it. The result, for many, is depression. I deal with it by not taking it personally, and not getting worked up about it. There is, after all, bugger all I can do about it. Update, August 15 2011: I wrote this post three years ago and, now 66, I firmly believe that for many, it’s a case of use it or lose it.

The principal reason, though, is the one that affects us all – the time of our death is getting closer every day.

When you’re in your teens, or twenties, your death feels unimaginably remote, and quite rightly, too – young people shouldn’t be focussed on their own mortality. Once they turn 40, most people realise that the time of their death is probably a hell of a lot closer than their birth. Hence the “mid-life crisis”. Once you hit 60, however, your own end is thrown into sharper focus, and that’s not a cheering prospect.

Then there’s sex. The vast majority of people under 40 view old people as asexual beings, when nothing is further from the truth – speaking personally, I’m still as horny as I ever was, but that leaves me with a problem – women of my own age, with few exceptions, do nothing for me. I know that’s ageist, and wrong – so sue me, it’s how I feel (Were I married, and was growing old with somebody, I might well feel different, but I’m not). But no matter how you feel, as you age, opportunity diminishes – either because it becomes more difficult to socialise, or because there are fewer available potential partners. Or both.

Mind you, there’s a world of difference between being a bit grumpy and developing a grudge against people who are younger and fitter than you. Some old people really are miserable, surly bastards but, in general, that’s probably not because they’re old – they’ve probably always been like that. Others, though, take aging extremely personally, and they really do develop a grudge against younger people, which is a bit sad. And a lot pointless.

Then you have the old farts who, because they have failed to die (yet!), feel that they have more rights than mere mortals, and use their age to get away with stuff that, when they were younger, would have earned them a good slap. And don’t get me started on those old pillocks who feel they have to tell everyone they come across how old they are. Here’s a tip – nobody cares!

For the most part, I confess I feel grumpy and disenchanted (the more so lately (15/8/11), as I appear to be dying), but – and this is important – I keep it to myself as much as I can. There is no point in bemoaning my lot, because it won’t change anything, so I do my best to be as outgoing and pleasant as I can, though I’m not saying I always succeed – it’s nobody’s fault that I feel shitty, so there’s no point in taking it out on everyone else. Unfortunately, too many old people take the opposite view, and the result is that the rest of us are tarred with the same brush – hence grumpy old people.

One thing that pisses off old people big time, though, is the belief, among young people, that they invented sex. No you didn’t – we did 😉