And so that was Christmas- [sorry JL]

We have now had the feverish consumer-fest that is Christmas 2014. All of that deliberating, researching, stressing, purchasing, sending back, re-purchasing, stressing again, decking the halls, stressing, preparing, wrapping, adapting, teeth-gritting, cooking, overeating, unwrapping, lying around, overeating again-all of that was about one day.

I do it all. I do the researching, purchasing, wrapping, preparing and the stressing. I also do the overeating, the lying around and the regretting. Then I look forward with a lover’s yearning for it all to be over and done with. I wait until the very last moment to festoon the house with gaudy tat and I am more than ready, by the end of Boxing Day, to tear it all down and stow it away for next time. What an extraordinary waste of time, energy and resources it all is!

But nothing beats the heady euphoria that the smooth, clean nakedness of the unadorned house presents. It induces [in me, at least] a gargantuan sigh of relief-so much so that it is almost worth the effort involved in all the preparations and clearing away to achieve the feeling.

Of course I don’t clear it all away the day after Christmas day. Don’t get me wrong-I do wait a decent interval before blitzing everything; until the last mince pie is consumed and the last guest has shuffled off to the station. But I can never stand to wait for that traditional ’12 day’ period to elapse. Nothing is more depressing than the sight of tired, dusty tinsel flapping in the drizzle and gales of a shiny new year.

In empathetic reflection, the post-Christmas news broadcasts are undergoing their own detox. There may well have been terrorist attacks, beheadings, invasions, tsunamis or Biblical-style famines but we are spared any intelligence of such events. The number one spot for news items is that of the Boxing Day sales. Whoopee! For those suffering sale-scrum withdrawal after Black Friday there is a chance to rise at 2.00am and stand in a queue for six hours with the possibility that they may purchase five or six handbags at a price of £500-a mere half of the [alleged] £1000 presale price.

Reader, I cannot think of a single item I want enough to queue up through the night in the damp and cold then plunge into a screeching, tearing pack of sale hounds for. Besides the fact that I am not a handbag person [this has been addressed in a previous post] I understand that the over-hyped prices of August are merely set lower and termed ’sale’ prices. In addition I actually want less stuff, not more[this was also addressed in a previous post]. On Black Friday one triumphant woman, flushed with the success of having snatched two flat screen, HD televisions proclaimed ‘I got two and I don’t even know if I want one’. Others were injured by falling TVs or trampled in the stampede. I’m betting these same people are in the queue for the next sale ruck. Happy Christmas one and all!

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To keep up or not to keep up, that is the question…

                If there is one, nasty, insidious, creeping element to ageing I’ve noticed, it is the necessity to complete ever more actions in order to appear presentable in public. This is one of the things your mother never tells you; that seemingly every day that goes by brings another challenge to be faced in front of the mirror! Indeed, the mirror itself is a challenge! These days, if I can actually find something I might wish to try on in the changing room of a clothing outlet I am in the habit of facing the door rather than the mirror. The overall result of this behaviour is that I return home with any garment that I can get on and do up, regardless of how it looks.

                Gone are the days when I could get out of the shower, towel off, drag something on and go. Now it is more a case of completing a checklist of fabrications, falsehoods and concealments, all designed to fool everyone [including myself] that I look ok. Starting at the top, it goes something like this:

Hair [of the head kind]

Having originally been a very dark, almost black shade of brown, I’ve been undertaking a stealthy transformation over the last fifteen or so years to lighten to a shade which will blend seamlessly into grey. Progress continues to be slow. I’ve lacked the courage, thus far, to go ‘cold turkey’. I’ve always been hopeless with hair styling, so at least that is one area that does not change.

Hair [Face]

It grows where it is not wanted and disappears from where it used to be. This anomaly has to be addressed on a depressingly frequent basis.

Skin [Face]

Dry, blotchy, wrinkly, spotty etc etc. It requires the use of ‘product’. ‘Product’ occupies increasing amounts of space and time and is also a drain on resources. It is also of dubious expediency. QED.

Skin [Elsewhere]

Dealing with elsewhere skin demands a regime consisting of a combination of the two above. I am hampered in the execution of these tasks, however by a lack of flexibility [eg twisting around to access lower part of back of leg] and failing eyesight. The result is to go out and about with unsightly hairy patches like a mammal undergoing a moult, not a problem during the winter months but an obstacle to baring flesh in the summer. Elsewhere skin also soaks up ‘product’ like a sponge. The choice is to keep slathering it everywhere in industrial quantities or take on the appearance of a crocodile.

Shape

Where do I begin? It changes. I cavort about at the gym, walk, do active things, eat sensible things, eschew the demon chocolate. Despite all this effort and deprivation, stubborn, squidgy bits appear where there were none.

                I know women who deal with the outward signs of ageing by concentrating all their efforts into the extremities. They spend vast sums on nail beautification or the purchase of designer handbags, thus avoiding the proverbial ‘elephant’. If it works for them, great! I am neither a nail person [being more of the Carol Klein type…gardening nails] nor a bag-o-phile. I fail to understand the allure of bags, especially when changing bag to suit outfit requires decanting all items from one to the other. I use a rucksack. When it wears out I get another.

                I also sense a certain inequality here, between the sexes. Men can embrace ageing and become all those desirable things like ‘distinguished’ without so much as nod to Grecian 2000. This is much discussed in the media, where male presenters, newsreaders and the like can carry on into their dotage without a worry.

                So how old do I have to be before I may sit down, relax and let it all go the way it will without my intervention? Like I said, my mother never told me! Answers on a postcard please….. [or in the comments section!]