Jayne Dawson: Oldies, do me a big favour and start acting your age

Oh my, it's exhausting getting older these days.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 3:39 pm

Yep, totally agreed. Sooo much better than the alternative; way, way better. I just can’t put into words how much more preferable it is to be old than to be ..deceased. But still, everyone’s allowed a moan.

And the truth is being old used to be so much less demanding. There was a time when you could sink into old age anytime you fancied after the age of 40, and no questions asked.

You could Let Your Figure Go, sit in a chair for days on end with only the telly and a bag of sweets stuffed down the side of your chair for company.

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You could refuse to leave your home and force all your relatives to come to you; you could wear beige night and day.

Your role models from even earlier generations had sat in rocking chairs clutching ear trumpets, so if you moved at all you were a triumph of spirit over flesh.

And lucky women need talk of nothing but their pension and their rheumatics from the age of 60 onwards.

Not now. Today the over-40s never leave the office and have forgotten what their homes look like. They laugh bitterly at the quaint notion of retirement, having worked out that they are doomed forever to chase that mythical date like anxious greyhounds racing after a fake rabbit, always just out of reach.

And now there is worse - we can’t even get pathetic and feeble. We have to limber up, stay strong, stay flexible.

We need to be able to do the splits in our dotage, like septuagenarian Felicity Kendal; be able to be an action hero in our dotage, like septuagenarian Harrison Ford and - news just in - we need to be able to fell any burglars we happen across.

For it has been revealed, in a storm of cliches, that three old people have indeed felled a burglar.

The trio, aged 70, 78 and 81 respectively, surprised the burglar stealing from the home of the deceased mother of the 70-year-old and, instead of yelling: “Don’t hurt us, we’re old” or some such traditional cry, they instead stuck out a leg, tripped the villain, and sat on him until the cavalry arrived.

They have been given an award for their trouble, because people admire what they did. Not me. These three have-a go pensioner heroes - there go the cliches - get on my nerves.

What happened to cowering feebly? What happened to using age as a catch-all excuse for everything?

That’s that then, the last protection has been ripped away from us. Now we have to catch our own burglars however many decades we have survived.

And it’s not just about crime control. Old people are being exhaustingly successful, everywhere. There’s Mary- no surname and no soggy bottoms required - dominating our telly talk at the age of 81. And there’s Lesley Joseph taking on the Strictly Challenge at the age of 70. Just a short time ago she would have been considered sprightly for continuing to walk.

There’s Her Maj of course, doing the job at 90, and David Attenborough, still working, travelling, making television also aged 90.

Times they are a changin’, alright. Remember that naughty older woman Mrs Robinson, who seduced Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate? Well his character was aged 21 and Mrs Robinson was twice his age - which puts her in her early 40s. There are women that age contemplating their first pregnancy, and singer Janet Jackson is about to give birth for the first time aged 50.

So where does that leave the rest of us, the ordinary older people, the ones who are not out there being wonderful, being Peter Pan?

Exhausted and under pressure, I would say. Now, anyone got any burglars they need sorting out?


Victoria Wood was funny, clever, and a performer who had no problem being watched my millions on television.

But in her private life she was ...very private.

Victoria didn’t want to talk about her husband, her divorce or her children. She didn’t do showbiz events and when she was dying of cancer she didn’t let us know.

She didn’t even tell some of her family, or her friends, so she was hardly going to share the news with her public.

We feel cheated by that. One minute she was was a member of our National Treasure Club, the next she was gone, taking her wit and whimsy with her.

We don’t even know the nature of the cancer that killed her, because Victoria didn’t want the details out there - so it is hard to understand just why her brother has written a biography of his sister, containing harsh comments made about Victoria by her own father.

He wrote about the young Victoria in his diary, describing her at times as fat, miserable and moody.

I have no idea of the context in which he wrote these unkind things about his young daughter, who proved him a poor judge of character.

But we all know that Victoria would be spitting fury at having these details of her life revealed by her broither. And as he says he will be giving any profit to charity, I’m at a loss to even begin to understand why he has done it.


I didn’t have a lot of choice. The allotment-grown pumpkin was ready, and a pumpkin ripe and ready at the beginning of October will not wait for Halloween.

We had to go early.

The thing had its top cut off, its innards scooped out and, much time later, I emerged covered in a thick layer of shredded pumpkin and with a hollowed gourd ready for carving. So me and the grandchild did the face.

But what to do with the innards? In the past I have stored the flesh in the freezer. And then a year later I have thrown it away to make room for the next lot. This time I determined to do better. So I made a pumpkin pie, the sort of thing so beloved of Americans. And it was good, like a baked egg custard.

But truthfully, it would have tasted just the same without the pumpkin, which is the blandest vegetable - yes, technically a fruit - I have ever encountered. How did they become so popular across the water?