Thursday 4 July 2013

Slow Down!

Slow Down!
Festival of Britain, 1951
I have always spoken quickly, words tumbling out of my mouth in their rush to get away from me. Even in the classroom I was aware that I was speaking too fast and tried to moderate the speed, without success. Add to that my clipped delivery and fairly quiet voice and you may understand that most people have difficulty hearing what I’m saying. (Naturally, when I was teaching, I ensured that my voice was loud enough to be heard – sometimes very loud. I can project very well when required to do so.)

As an example, this is what my writing looks like these days before I correct it . . . I hace alwysa spoeken qycjkty, words tumblins our of my nmuth in th r rush to gwe awat form me.
Lincolnshire, 1964
Of course, it may just be my poor touch-typing but it is a fact that it is getting progressively worse. It would appear that the less I speak the more my fingers tangle in the keys and produce gobbledegook. When I stopped going out to work (I refused to say I had retired, such vanity! I was not of retirement age and did not wish to be considered OLD) I relished the prospect of not having to talk all day and now I am almost monosyllabic. (You must allow for exaggeration here!)

Now, when required to conduct some sort of social interaction I often fumble for words, desperate to respond intelligibly and not in an ELDERLY fashion and then I see myself as youngsters see me – past it, bless her. It happened the other day when I went to the hospital to have my eyes dealt with (Visual Fields, don’t you know – all those flashing lights, a patch over one eye and then the other and the buzzer in my hand. I’m sure you know the form:  ’Press the buzzer when you see the white light, keep your eye on the orange light in the centre, don’t search for the white light,’ with the result that I frantically press the buzzer, afraid I might miss one of the spots or think back and realise I have missed one. I listen to the buzzers all around me and hear the ophthalmologist explaining patiently to others what they must do and tell myself to concentrate.)

Both eyes having been tested the pleasant young woman (very young . . . how old could she be? Surely not old enough to be doing this job?) asked me, as she had asked every other person, ‘Have you any other appointments today?’ (What did she think? Was I going to have my mental acuity tested or a prosthetic limb fixed?) and that’s when my quick-wittedness came to my aid as I mumbled, ‘No,’ and she said lightly, ‘Oh, another one with no other appointments so you’re free to go now,’ which is when I compounded my elderliness by saying, ‘I’ve got another appointment on July 22nd,’ thus proving that my memory is not quite shot yet. I wanted to stride out of the room in a parody of youthful energy but my bag strap was stuck under the chair and as I fumbled to free it she came to my aid and picked it up for me. I think she was quite surprised at the weight of it. She didn’t exactly grunt as she lifted it, but I had the impression of renewed respect.

As for stepping out smartly, that was never going to happen. For two months I had sciatica which dissipated to be replaced by pain in my hips (one or other, sometimes both), the result of walking badly because of the sciatica *sigh*. After I’ve been sitting for a while I stiffen and it takes a while to unbend and so I hobbled out, pride not quite intact, thus completing the image of a poor old dear.

Who was it said, ‘Would that we could see ourselves as others see us’?* I’d rather not, thank you. It’s enough of a shock to encounter myself in the mirror and too off-putting to realise that a young slip of a lad or lass is looking at me unable, or unwilling, to understand that one day they too will be old(er).

*I cannot let pass a quotation without checking it to make sure I have it correct. (Is this another instance of impending – or ongoing – decrepitude? Or OCD?) In this case, I didn’t . . .  have it correct, that is. I paraphrased the immortal words of Robert Burns, Rabbie to his familiars:-

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion. 

 Robert Burns, The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns
Blandford, 2013


  1. I never worry about how the young see me - I remember only too well how my friend and I, when 16, felt only pity for her older sister for having reached the sad old over-the-hill age of 21.....

  2. What a sweet picture at the end!

    I sometimes talk too fast, too. My problem though, is that my mouth can't keep up with my brain. ;)

  3. I do relate and my mouth is slow to catch up with my brain, too!! Love the shot of the little one! Delightful! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Ah well..we fumble and we stumble and often take a tumble...if only we were as young as we feel inside.

  5. What a nice picture of you "sweet sixteen ? I don't care what people think and getting "old" is no problem for me I think it's the head which counts and in there I am rather younger than I was when I was younger physically (gets complicated) And I became more "cool" too ! The day when a young man helped me to climb in the bus I was offended and decided to take Yoga (soft gymnastic) classes. Ever since I am more fit then ever and noboday "dares" to help me climbing in a bus I am fast now !! lol ! And I am proud to say that with my 70th I need no ramp for going down on steps ! You look great as grandma ! Such a cute picture !

  6. It is always nice to compare picture of different age periods. I should do this more. Congratulations.


  7. I was at the Festival of Britain in 1951, so I had to scour your photo to see if by chance I (or perhaps any of my family) was in it!! I was 12 going on thirteen and I remember the computer against which you played naughts and crosses and the computer won every time. What monster it has become since those days. How could we have ever dreamed up today's technological world. By the way, I wasn't known for talking too fast -- just for talking.

  8. I can relate to your post on so many levels! I find it fascinating sometimes because although my mirror tells me otherwise, inside I feel exactly the same as I was at eighteen. Of course I am more mature now, emotionally speaking, but my brain thinks my body can do all the same physical activities with just as much ease, when of course it can't!

    I love the photos. Where in Lincolnshire? I lived there for several years when I was a child until moving to Canada at age 15. You look to have ripened beautifully, by the way!

  9. Hi Janice .. I've always talked too fast - and my typing muddles up a few letters now (usually teh and adn) - thoroughly irritating .. the brain is running I hope - the fingers just tottering along behind ..

    Can quite empathise - but love the photo of you and the little one ..

    Enjoy what looks like a gorgeous weekend ... cheers Hilary

  10. I had to laugh out loud, because I recognize myself in everything you mention. The bag strap...soemthing that would happent o me. Your photos are wonderful, the last one so precious. Thanks for visiting my blog. I so appreciate it when I see your comments.

  11. Great photos! We are near the same age; I was born in 1951.

    Oh, your observations are so spot on. Seeing my reflection in a shop window always shocks me.

    Is that your grandbaby?! Oh, so precious.

  12. I barely speak at all. My younger daughter speaks a million words a minute, well, that's what it seems like....when she was told she'd be training a new assistant K was heard to say "I hope she listens fast".

  13. I'm about the same age as you too. My mouth often speeds ahead of my brain which is not often a good thing. I love seeing those earlier photos of you, but the photo of you with the sleeping babe really makes me melt.


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