International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Age the Enemy
Alas one reaches the countdown age!
According to statistics, Ive got about 8 years to go before
I theoretically kick the bucket. My carcass continues
to trudge along despite a few visits to the workshop. So far they
have replaced one of my hip joints with a 300 year guaranteed titanium
rod connected to a porcelain ball and socket; my knee has been cleaned
up because of an injury I sustained trying to leap onto a double-decker
bus in London and Ive recently undergone minor surgery to
remove liquid from one of my intimate parts.
Apart from that, with a daily blood pressure pill, some drops to
reduce the tension on my optical nerve and softening cream
for my heel that feels like an overcooked steak Im still alive
© Olive Picker by Sam North
I keep fit by walking
an average of 5 miles per day, feeding on fish, lean meat, vegetables
and plenty of red wine; constantly read the local and international
press to keep abreast with the daft world we live in, keep an eye on
my dwindling pension, avoid antagonising my wife with my sarcastic comments
and sit at the computer on a daily basis to write as much as I can for
posterity. I had come to terms with myself after I reluctantly gave
up, what I presumptuously considered was a full and rich life of activity
both in work and leisure. But all this came to an abrupt halt when I
looked into the mirror one day, after I had showered and was in the
process of anointing myself with deodorant and anti-body smells and
saw a sight I had never realised before. My head didnt look as
fluffy as usual! I got hold of a hand mirror and placed it above my
head. A dreadful sign appeared. Hell; I was loosing my hair.
In the last few years, I found I could no longer shoot under par at
golf, even after knocking off my handicap. I occasionally talked to
myself, glared at screaming children in my apartment lift, constantly
complained to my wife about the state of our citys amenities;
but this entire attitude I thought was acceptable and considered part
of ageing. Its well known that we geriatrics tend to do odd things
like put the tea kettle instead of the milk back in the fridge, or empty
the dishwasher that hasnt yet started its cycle. Or better still,
forget where we left our reading glasses, or wonder around the house
in bedroom slippers when its gone midday looking for that modern
amenity, the mobile phone that is ringing somewhere hidden in a closet.
Alien monsters because we cant read the text messages or dial
the right numbers without upsetting the damn beast. Talking about modern
life, theres another sign of ageing.
Maybe some of you dont realise it but many oldies have other oldie
objects lying around the house that also begin to suffer from fatigue
although they have lasted for years. Now-a-days you buy a laptop and
after a few years, or even months use you chuck it away and buy
a new one; same happens to washing machines and television sets, to
give a few examples. Yet if you walk into the home of an elderly couple
youll find a collection of museum pieces at the turn of every
corner. My apartment is no exception.
Just take my old video and music cassettes housed in my libraries that
I have scattered around the house, some nearly 30 years old; but youll
find that they still work! Some have faded or lost a few decibels of
sound, but I can still listen to Frank Sinatra originals or watch Gary
Cooper shoot his way to an Oscar in High Noon. The CDs
and DVDs dont last that long! Once they go kaput thats
it! I can no longer watch Tom Cruise in the The Firm because
half way through he just freezes up! I have a 20 year old long distance
radio portable I bought way back in 1986. It travelled with me all over
Europe in my bygone days of employment. I have it by my side in the
kitchen as I eat my toast and drink my morning tea, and can still listen
to the BBC short wave or the local station discussing Spanish politics.
Trouble is the sound rheostat is faulty and it takes me minutes to try
to control the volume without bringing the house down. My 33rpm record
player is even older. Ive got some real gems like all five Beethovens
piano concertos played by Claudio Arrau; or how about the Neal Diamond
classic Hot August Night recorded in 1972.
But ageing took over. The machine has decided to run at just over 35rpm
and Tony Bennett sounds like Shirley Bassey. My Christmas present was
a new fridge. The old one died after 18 years of good service! When
the undertakers came to pick it up they just grinned, what more
did you expect; to last forever? as they parted with a dead machine.
The best was an old winter suit I put on to go to a Christmas dinner
only to find as I searched through the pockets, bars receipt from Barajas,
Madrid airport in pesetas and dated January 1994.
One can put up with both your old machine friends dying around you,
or the odd incapacity of not being able to run for a bus, but to suddenly
notice that youre going bald was another matter. This really got
I rushed to my dermatologist with the excuse that I thought I had athletes
foot and after he took a scalpel and removed a sample of skin for a
lab test, I asked him, I think Im losing my hair. Can you
tell me why? He still had the dagger in his hand but
managed to slowly place it on the operating table before he looked at
me and starting laughing. Would you believe it? A member of one of the
most revered professions in the world just looked at me and laughed.
Whats so funny, I thought until I suddenly realised,
what a bloody stupid question to ask a quack. He turned
my question around and became sympathetic, why do YOU think that
you should not lose your hair? Now were talking! I explained
to him that nobody, repeat nobody in either branch of my ancestors was
or ever went bald; and that I was always under the impression that,
apart from a serious illness or the effects of chemotherapy, baldness
was and always would be an inherited ailment. He conceded that in this
modern day an age there could be any number of factors that could affect
my scalp turning into a billiard ball. But all he could say to end the
consulting session was that there was nothing I could do about it.
I began to have nightmares! Could it be these retched blood pressure
pills or the hair shampoo Ive been using for years? How about
stress? The doctor said nothing about stress. But then I wasnt
stressed nor was I depressed, so I ruled that out right away. Good old
Internet. I started searching for some answers including the side effects
of medicines that I possibly had or could be taking that may cause baldness.
I was completely dumbfounded with what I read. Anything and everything
could be the reason for me losing my hair! I turned the PC off
and reverted to my local newspaper. After a few seconds I stopped reading
and pondered for a while. I finally came up with a New Years resolution
concerning my plight. I will continue to scream blue murder at the visual
proof of my ageing.
© James G. Skinner. February 2009.
Consul and the Serpent Part 1
Its been two years now since I resigned as Honorary
British Consul in this north-western part of the Iberian Peninsula.
life and living
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.