One from Brancaster beach, North Norfolk, in the background. Lilley loved this walk as did I. We miss it.
Am I back? I might be. In which case I'm very, very sorry for being away so long. Probably nobody noticed but anyway - I hope you've not all wandered off to 'other websites'! You devils you…
Fact is, I've done stuff, looked at lots of bricks and mortar, put in offers, unoffered, got myself banned from some estate agents and still blithering about in a maze of 'dont' know'. I think I've found somewhere. But then I think I've found somewhere else.
It comes down to this - I'm almost too experienced at this house buying lark so I kind of know what to expect. From a neighbourhood to a tiny kitchen, from a shower instead of a bath to a massive garden. I've been there and I know. So I won't go there again. But I keep thinking it'll be alright. Over night I've had another thunk and realised it won't be - alright. So I pull out. Back to Rightmove's drawing board. Am I longterm renting or buying? New build? Yes. Too big, too small, huge grounds, no front garden for her. On and on and on and….
Down to the wire is where we are. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm 74 and completely on my own. FYI the very close friends I had who knew me have left the area for grandkids or some went mardy at a certain point in my life. Their loss but it hurt at the time. That can be women for you. Sorry but it can…never talk to me about sisterhood. It exists only as long as it exists. I be schtum so I be…
I'll get letters, emails from women who totally disagree. All I can say is you've been very lucky in your choices. Subject matter for another time, perhaps.
So I feel kind of bitter - doing all this sh*te alone. (Go on Trish - say it). Who the eff do people think I am? Sister of Jack the Ripper? Say so - come on if you're out there reading this. You know who you are.
Takes deep breath.
We were walking round the village of Bunrham Thorpe (Admiral Lord Nelson's birth place). A beautiful Norfolk village and one of my favourite places.
So sorry I had a moment there. Give me a second or three… and back in the room.
OK stand back …
THIS is the ONE!
Let’s get down and dirty and stop sanitising being childless.
Are you sitting comfortably for I will begin children…strap in! You might need to.
I’ve been away. I’ve been missing in action. Been around the Norfolk block and rocked up over The Wash to the next county above it. (Lincolnshire for the ignorant. Keep up). Me and her have had fun, tears, loneliness, shock and awe, fear and utter exhaustion. I is old, people. Alone.
We do the lot as a cutesome twosome me and her.
And here is the cutesome twosome. They are very fond of each other - as they say in Hollywood. But choose to ignore each other, at least he, Barney, ignores her. Poor, little lovelorn Lilley.
But back in realtime I got to pondering on our adventures. What we’ve done, achieved, people we’ve met. And the negative is we’ve done it all on our tod. Some would say positive. Would you?
I think we’re amazing to be honest. Daft, stupid sometimes but still bloody amazing. I say ‘we’ like she’s got a say in any of the crazy decision making but frankly she has. I’ve been house searching, remember, and her needs are very much taken into account. The garden space, will she get up the stairs? Will I? Can she consider and bark loudly at passing neighbours from a window or the front garden? Is there a sink to shovel her in after muddy walks?
Sometimes I can’t believe how old I am. What I do on my own (us) - dammit there’s a reality show right there. Snap us up Channel 4,620!
I’m very sorry we’ve been away so long (you've just said that. Repetition first sign of). Of course there are valid reasons but not good enough is it? And thing is - I think we’re due for expansion as we’ve been ‘put on sub stack’ (no, me neither), a change of image is a comin’ down the hill and other stuff. I must start a podcast/YouTube/video/no ideaeo. Lessons from young people, methinks. I’ll not understand a word I can guarantee that.
Me and her must get with it. Connect. Tidy ourselves upabit. Brush our hair and cut our nails. I can’t emphasise how hard it can be to motivate oneself on one’s own at ‘age’ or any age, I guess. We must keep going, like so many of you, because who the hell do we fall back on? And, answer me this - who really cares? With the best will in the world who has the blithering time to actually perform a bovvered shunt? I’m fine with that because, knowing myself rather well, I’m so selfish nowadays I wouldn’t give a flying fig either.
Let me be clear, said the politician, I know myself very well indeed and have all the makings (markings?) of a selfish git.
For e.g. - I’ve just stuck my oar into a rather lovely video on FB (a ‘for TV’ advert) about an elderly man on his own being ignored as he shuffles along the town street. But he enters the local pub and, long story short, he ends up with a random dog that joins him followed by young couple who are the dog’s owners. Happy ending as they all shack up. Lovely jubbly. But I did the brown stuff all over it by saying if only that happened in real life. Because it does not. People with families were drooling all over this video. Would they go over and join lonely, elderly person in real world? I’ll answer that - No.
Can you see the irony and the ‘face yourselves head on peoples’? For you don’t do it but you could try it? And not just at Christmas. People love to talk the talk. All I ever read or hear at present is family. And I must suck it up as must many of you.
A misty, dusky afternoon round the little park in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Quite mystical as we appear over the horizon.
I deplore the selfishness of families actually (apart from a couple of fams I know so well, and have been marvellous to me in my many hours of need. You know who you are). Unconscious, perhaps? It did not used to be this way. You are lucky families - most of you. OK, I know I’m lucky. I don’t live in Israel or Gaza so I’m bloody lucky. But God I feel lonely and suddenly. It might be the Christmas thing. It might be the rushing, dashing and now crashing against the metaphorical rocks as we land.
Most people have family of some sort be it siblings, nephews, nieces, close cousins, aunties etc. Imagine if you have none, like me. Although my cousin did phone the other week and we had a good natter for once. It felt good. It mattered. A family member. But she has many grandkids and I’m outnumbered.
See I’m a nuisance in a way. What to do with me? I mean, I wouldn’t mind but I’m such a good guest. No, I am! I just think group psyche has shifted. From doing one’s ‘duty’ by inviting the ‘lonely neighbour/friend’ which one definitely did in years gone by. We did, my parents did, friends did. Now they’re ‘ clunch’ (ye olde Lincolnshire word for ‘very closed’).
(Quick caveat emptor: if someone did invite me I'd make excuses not to go. Because I don't like spending time with other families at Christmas - I've done it many times - it never goes well. But, just ask me, OK? Fine..)
I feel we’re losing the battle and have often wondered if we're a diverse group. Because I think we are. Although fully respecting folks’ decisions, we’re not always helped by the childfree shouting their happy clappy from the rooftops. Many of them are still youngish. They might feel differently as they age.
So many childless groups. So much lack of knowledge - still - amongst the family end. Can you see it?
I’ve said it before - being childless and particularly when ageing - we can suffer in many ways. Not all are able or want, to join, join, join. We want to be included and I will say this - different parts of the country (I’m talking UK here for ‘tis where I live) approach the subject in different ways. Emotional intelligence comes into its own. Norfolk with its families ignored your childlessness and just took you in if they liked you. Lincolnshire used to be the same (and I wuz ‘ere guv, all those decades ago, so I do know) but its social landscape has changed over the years. And I’ll leave it there.
Here she is comin' over the hill or sand dunes of Theddlethorpe, Lincolnshire. A beautiful, deserted beach with a wildness about it. See the boats in the distance? Drilling (no idea).
Right - direction change a’ comin’ over the hill.
Stand back…so ends another good ol' Trish and Lilley moan. Here comes another…
Now then, a poser for you all ( I say 'all' with hope in my heart?) - the big ageing charities et al love and long to show ageing in a positive light. OK fine. You've been there, you've done it. Oldies paragliding, shooting the rapids, basecamp at Mount Everest, riding the winner at the Grand National, doing a Verstappen doughnut at formula 1 Grand Prix. Now what? Some do, many don't because they can't. Genuinely can't. And not just the ageing, of course. For me showing the 'positive of ageing' is silly. You feel it or you don't. It can very much depend on your circumstances and also, can be patronising. And here's the thing - take me as an example - like many of you I've had no choice but to 'keep up', stay as young as possible. Mainly because I'm childless so I have a responsibility to look after myself. What about others out there? Do you feel the same? I won't risk sky diving because there's no one at home to look after me if I break both legs thumping down. You know where I'm coming from. Ageing is a natural process and we all hope to get there one day. But it's just a word.
You do what you are able to do or want to do. Be sensible and realistic for goodness sakes. Listen, if you dropped dead sharking it at the London Marathon - what a whopper that'd be on News at Ten. But not great as you'd be dead so don't go mad.
Walk slowly and carefully if you have physical issues. Just take your time and USE A STICK! Remember, we don't have child/grandchild to phone if we go arse over tit so just don't, right? But exercise is always good albeit carefully, slowly, and little steps. Noone is looking at you if you walk safely with a stick. Just do it! I do. So often folk will stop to chat, 'specially if you're taking a breather on the park bench and - with a cutsie dog sat by your side. Actually, you could offer to walk animal-charity dogs occasionally if you don't have a dog. Just a thought.
We try to present ourselves in a positive light. I try for the best light to avoid the wrinkles but, as you can see, doesn't always work. I have no idea, anymore, what age I am. Very old when it suits me (he!he!he!) but ageless when I'm out in the wilds and 'Stayin' Alive'.
Showing us all in a positive light tripping the light fantastic is ageist in my opinion. Just let us be ourselves in our own time but offer encouragement. Seeing elderlies attacking Helvellyn (look it up) with ropes might make some of us feel like failures. Most of us can't manage the slope on the footpath into town. But then, when we do, aren't we the heroes?
I'd prefer to show how those of us living alone with no family backup, manage (any age, to be honest). Most of us manage as we're left with no choice. You could argue 'that's the way to do it' like Sweep used to shout to Sooty. Because there is no definitive way to 'do it' is there?
I've found myself getting quite bitter and I don't like myself much then. Neither does anyone else but their loss. Ageing is whatever age you think it is -for you. But don't let it define you. Our childlessness is simply another word. We're still human for goodness sakes. You, with kids, are no way better than those of us without. You are not. We all need each other and we can all help each other. Whatever age. Sometimes I've thought about just shoving my way in. Turn up at a family 'do' and go nonchalent. Say 'Clive asked me'. Ignore 'who's Clive?' You've got the wrong do but they'll take pity. It's a thought isn't it?
I'll be back!
And don't let the buggers get you down!
A bit blurry as two of us fell off the sofa but l-r is me, Jane B the wisest person I know, young Millie -daughter of DC Marie Williamson who is falling off the other end as the camera shot. and Lilley plus Barney. We'd been to a local pubbery for lunch with the dogs and back to my little holiday cottage 'home' for the time being. A good time had by all.
Notes: Sooty and Sweep was a hand glove puppet show for the kids back in the 50s, but the adults loved it. Sooty was a teddy and Sweep was a dog. Sue the 'girl interest' was - what was Sue? Who the hell was Sue? The whole show was dependent on Sooty bashing allcomers over the head with his wand (a magic wand before the smut starts). OK, life was simple then. And so were we…
I'll be back before Christmas with a neatly packaged contribution.
Thank you to anyone, everyone who continues to support us and, frankly, reads this. Always amazes and humbles me.
Do write in. I believe we have a live chat now. Do we? Shall we?
To quote the late, great Kenneth Williams: 'Oooh, Matron!'
Lilley fiinishing this off with the fire engine she found at our holiday cottage in Docking, Norfolk. She really did try to push it along the carpet.