I once explained my theory of where we are heading as a society
to an intelligent friend- I said I thought there would be broadly speaking (I, who am wary of generalisations) two groups whom I called the New and the Old. The New would continue to take on new for the sake of it, technology with all its spin offs. In fact the only thing they would be interested in was the new – clothes, food, ways of living – like a talisman, as if new had a magic charge that would somehow be better and stronger. (Interesting because psychology teaches that your past is part of your present, so to deny it is to pass up something essential. Like mulch on a garden.) The Old would adapt
– because if you don’t, to an extent, you don’t survive – but they would cherish memory, personal or general, stories, the derivation of ideas, the old ways if they work. And I am an Old.
In talking to the Fire Fairy the other day (she is a decade younger), I apparently used the word old to describe myself more than once and she took issue. She told me off fiercely which I countered from my point of view. First of all, the Bible says you’re allowed three score years and ten which I am beyond. Second I had inspirational elderly parents so a word which seems to terrify many is part of my journey as I have understood it. Old is. It’s a one way ticket, to be respected and cherished, moaned at when your hair thins or your chin sags or you can’t lift something and have to ask somebody else, but nothing to do with the spirit.
The spirit marches to a different drum.
I could make a list of all the other things of which people say “everybody does” – but I don’t. How much of that is being stubborn, how much of that is personal choice and personal taste, I don’t know. I can’t draw the lines. And anyway, who would be interested.
What I know is that when I tried an own brand cream from Boots made with colloidal oatmeal, it is as efficient as easing the maddening itch of my (admittedly mild) lichen planus as the prescribed steroid cream. This all happened by chance but when I checked the Mayo Clinic website (often very good) it was mentioned.
Years ago, if your child had dry skin, you put porridge oats in a muslin bag and tied it round the tap where the water rinsed the appropriate secretion into a soothing bath. Old.
I watch people glued to their screens or their earbuds, to the exclusion of the world around them for good or ill but it’s not for me. Living in the moment is hard work (it goes without saying that everything has a negative interpretation as well as a positive one) but I find it more rewarding . Which is probably why I was so cross that the first episode of Tokyo Vice, once it has been followed by the second (three hours of tv is too much),
was apparently the last. The Binge and Boxsets Cafeteria, the BBC.
Yesterday, the dark got in under the door. When it wasn’t cold, it was clammy. London was full of bodies in pre Christmas tourism or demo mode, spread all over the pavement, noisy, indifferent. Wal went up to the West End, I investigated a Christmas Market in Chelsea and we agreed we hated it. It was almost comforting to be able to share a sense of invasion and displacement. The purchase of Christmas goods is like folk magic as in “spend money – and – if you spend enough of it,
it will all be all right.”
Everybody I know is “being careful” – watchful of money, minding the electricity or gas, the water (supplies and heating), food to eat or stockpile. So where is this money to come from ? And why, if you can find it for warmth and food and light, would you spend it on anything but the simplest remembrances of a time when we entered the winter dark, in hope of the light to follow. The tunnel beckons. And I find the old ways, back far beyond this neo Victorian gorgeathon, more consoling.