Ageing Part 1-The Experts’ Way

                Once you get beyond what can reasonably be called middle age [although I realise it stretches to a further point the older you get…], you might think it would be helpful to know what we all need to do to grow old and keep your health. I read an article in the Guardian newspaper recently which did just this thing-with useful, informative suggestions from ‘experts’. It is interesting to note that few of the ‘experts’ are themselves beyond middle age. Fair enough. Perhaps one needs to begin on their regimes early; forward planning, you might say. In this case I am, in all probability, too late. I was still interested as to what I should have done:

1 Weight Lifting

Jerrald Rector, from Birmingham University explained that apparently it is all down to a virus like Herpes and that we can stave it off if we all go to the gym and heft dumbbells around. Jerrald, a PhD student, is 26. He is also toned and beauteous. I’ve tried weight lifting more times than Jerrald has cleaned his teeth and never found it to be anything more than unutterably dull. Boredom is stressful. He may be right about the virus. He claims it is triggered by stress. Ok, stress is ageing. No surprise there!

2 Friends

There is no mention of Dr Anna Phillips’ age, but she looks to be in her twenties. Stress, she says, can be staved off by having a strong social network. Bereavement is particularly stressful. Who’d have thought it? We should all be happily married. [I must make a note to tell Husband this]. Dr Phillips also hails from the University of Birmingham. She could pair up with Jerrard and put forth the idea of married couples’ weight lifting. Weddings could even take place in gyms, with guests attending in vests and shorts and the ceremony being conducted whilst bench pressing.

3 Running

Professor Janet Lord [Birmingham] is 56 . Hooray! At last there is an expert in the appropriate age range. Of course, Janet, we all know that running is good for us. Can there be anyone left on the planet who doesn’t? I spent more than twenty years doing it. It was wonderful for all kinds of reasons-keeping weight at bay, keeping stress at bay, keeping heart healthy etc. If you are lucky you may get to run into old age; there are some who do. But most of us who used to run have had to hang up our running shoes due to the joints having given out. Lucky Janet, if she is able to keep running throughout old age.

4 Fasting

In a nutshell, Dr Sandrine Thuret wants us all to deny ourselves food in our dotage, in order to do good to our brains. Dr Sandrine [not Birmingham] eats ‘every other day’. She goes on to say she has cereal bars and apples on the fasting days. Hm. How is this fasting, Dr? Pity the poor Alzheimers sufferers. Not only have their brains failed them but they must also starve.

5 Learning languages

This is the idea of 52 year old Thomas Bak [Edinburgh this time]. Why?

                You have to wonder why they’re all expending their energy and time on these projects when the most expedient thing would be to eradicate the world of wrinklies-the expensive, difficult generation!

Next post is going to be Grace’s ideas for a healthy, happy old age, without starvation, boredom or conjugating verbs. Watch out for ageing part 2…

                 

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                It is accepted that to be good at something, to excel, to be an expert-you must love that thing. You must have dreamed of doing it since childhood; have worked, or practised or studied at it in all your waking hours. It is true for great musicians, artists, sportspeople and of course, writers. But what if there is a pursuit you love, that you spend time on, you practise and you study-but you are, you remain, you continue to be completely useless at it?

                At school, for instance I was very fond of both geography and biology. In geography I loved drawing maps, shading in the contours and labelling everything. In biology I got enormous pleasure from drawing diagrams and again, labelling the bits. I’d spend time over these tasks, colouring along the coastlines in blue on a map, or shading in the joints on a skeleton. But it was to no avail. I bombed at both subjects and was [not unkindly] advised to ‘drop’ them like hot potatoes before ‘O’ levels loomed.

                So it is, nowadays with photography. I love photographing things. When walking in a new place I am rarely without my camera in my pocket-or more often-in my hand. I do, however have to have a compact, idiot-proof camera that will do everything for me except press its own button. I confess to no understanding at all of shutter speeds, lenses, exposures, filters and zooms [although I do have an excellent zoom on my little gadget]. I take snaps. I take many snaps of objects that have just gone past, or that are too far away for the camera to see, or are blurred or are in the dark, or are anyway, unrecognisable. But in this automated, computerised, digitalised age it matters not a flash, because that master capability exists-the delete button.

                These days anyone can have a go at photography and be ‘published’, [in much the same way as blogging]. Holiday snaps on Facebook must have become the new ‘postcards’. Myself, I’m not sorry about the demise of the postcard. They were a complete chore, a duty to be executed and got out of the way as quickly as possible. You had to choose them, buy them, get stamps. The shop selling the postcards might not sell stamps, or would sell stamps only of you bought cards from them. Then you had to think of something to write to Aunty Elsie or whoever. What could you write in that tiny space that would be interesting or amusing or informative? You could write in barely legible miniature documenting every moment of your vacation or you could use up the entire space with a vacuous ‘wish you were here’ kind of statement.

                No-I prefer the FB approach, except that due to an entrenched phobia about having my own phizog snapped I like to be behind the lens rather than the subject; and I get to be a published photographer –just like everyone else!