I am old, I am old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

 

I used to look forward to growing old. I had this glowing picture of me, with distinguished grey hair and a kindly twinkle in my eye, distributing Good Advice to my children and grand children, while my wife sits by the fire, knitting and stroking the cat, ( but not at the same time, obviously.) I would be looked up to, the family patriarch. My grandfather (only one, the other died years ago) was like that.

Well I got the distinguished hair. It’s a bit thin on top, but I have lovely silver sideboards. I look like the meeter – and-  greeter that the BBC wheels out  to meet  political bigwigs, who have come to have their noses tweaked by John Humphries. He looks like an ambassador. I could do that.

I’m a bit short on wisdom though. It’s not quite that. I have wisdom but….it’s irrelevant.  I can talk about the Elizabethan theatre, the history of my city of York, the wingspan of a Supermarine Spitfire ( 32’ 6”) if you’re interested, or the back catalogue of the Stones – but no-one is really interested any more. I do not understand the social media. Why do they all talk to each other in unintelligible abbreviations ? What’s wrong with the phone ?

Why do they have to take a picture of themselves every three minutes ? Do they doubt their very existence ?

I still use email. For special friends, I will write a letter. Remember ? That pen and ink stuff ? I can sometimes use Twitter, but it’s a matter of stab and see where you get to.

And all this is entirely irrelevant. It has always been the same. We old codgers have had our day because that’s  evolution, man. We’re irrelevant now, and extinct soon.

And we asked for it. Take one tiny aspect of daily life – fashion. Fashion is for the young and for elegant mature ladies. Not old guys. Beards are fine for hipsters, with tartan shirts and climbing boots. But any man over sixty should never grow a beard- you should have got that out of your system forty years ago. Look at Jeremy Corbyn ( difficult, I know, but do try) He looks (a) as though he’s forgotten to shave and (b) like Dr Shipman the Mad Medic. It’s a uniform – they all look the same.

Old geezers should never, under any circumstances, show their legs. Old male legs are indistinguishable from chicken legs in Sainsburys. And the shorts they  wear !  Great bags of canvas rippling in the breeze ! It just looks wrong, guys ! Get a pair of nice chinos and a summer jacket and you look like a film director.

And don’t wear replica football shirts either. You look like a wazzock. Stretched tight over a beer belly and balanced on skinny legs, you do not do yourself justice. And don’t wear sandals, don’t wear socks with sandals – just quit the whole sandal thing. Without, your feet look like lumps of  squashed haddock.And the toenails ! Chipped and splintered and discoloured like lumps of Roman rooftile.  And with socks ? No ! The horror ! The horror !

Mind you, I have come a fashion that is totally the fault of Young Dudes – and that is a too tight suit with shoes – but no socks ! Can you imagine what it’s like in there ? Slippery and reeking with footpong ! Is this likely to pull the birds ? Maybe -how should I know ?

No – it’s time to step back and let them get on with it. 

Every twenty four hours a day becomes history.

That’s profound, that is.

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King’s Square York

The square is transient space
where every hour
a thousand purposes
collide and split away.

Yet some moments linger,
hover in shifting light
among the trees,
settle in the pavement cracks.

That weeping ash
taller than rooftops
grew from graves,
its slow roots stabbing down
between the tombstones,
piercing eye sockets and yellowed bones,
and sucking nourishment from
the clammy loam

Grave yards beg a church
and one stood here,
where tourists take selfies, lick ice creams
and children stamp their feet
to scare the birds.

Crammed between the slaughtering yards,
the butchers’ shops and narrow alleyways
an ungainly barn, all awkward angles,
a stumpy tower.

The church of Christ the King

a place to mark time

the saints in their proper seasons:
Advent, Christmas, Lent and Corpus Christi
each celebrated with prayer and candles
and ashes on good Friday.

And sinners had their moment too
where every day was different
and every day the same

sprinkling at the font
rings before the altar
corpses by an open grave.

All kept in proper fashion
and all this for eight hundred years.

Now jugglers mark their sacred space with rope
where blood and incense once hung in the air
and where our forbears bowed their heads in prayer
a bunch of skinny kids are smoking dope.

A supermarket trolley speaks

 

I’m piled high with concentrated sunshine
fresh leaves, and dehydrated blossom
ready to unfurl.
Just add spring water.

Filled with early morning goodness
each pack contains:
fox barks, blackbird song,
the stately flap of herons’ wings,
the muttering of ducks,

provides the five good things you need
to fortify your soul
and more.

As for me –
who’s going to return me to the store ?

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