Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 25 February 2010

They never told me this

Old age brings so many predictable changes that much of the experience becomes a cliché. That’s an unexpected change. There are others.

(1) Death. I find myself pondering the form it will take rather than simply averting my eyes. That may change. Question: will dying be a test of atheism?
(2) Clumsiness. But of a special kind. I pick my coffee-mug from the draining rack to dry it. There is a natural trajectory for this which I have never needed to consider. Now, once in fifty times, the mug glances against the mixer-tap spout. The mug has become precious and a bolt of fear passes through my chest.
(3) Irritation. Often related to (2). I place the newspaper half on, half off the coffee table. It slides on to the floor. My brief anger is disproportionate.
(4) Deafness 1. This is predictable and in any case limited to situations with high background levels (for the techies: a poor signal-to-noise ratio). I find I don’t care.
(5) Deafness 2. The sound tracks on American DVDs are blurred: a technical failing quite separate from accent and/or directorial preferences for inarticulacy. Often this turns out to be unimportant.
(6) Keyboard skills. Defects here could be a precursor to Alzheimer. Whole words, sometimes phrases, are missed out as my mind leaps ahead of my fingers. A lifetime’s devotion to revision and improvement solves this for the moment.
(7) Car driving. As far I can tell the skill has not diminished. What has changed is a never-absent fear that it might.
(8) End-of-the-day relaxation. Here the change is one of degree. What was once a mere cessation of labour has turned into sheer voluptuousness, a sensory wallow.
(9) Booze. Ability to withstand hangovers now varies widely.
(10) Vocabulary. Still highish but, as with (7), accompanied by anticipation of the first signs that is on the way down.

Novel progress 26/2/10. Ch. 16: 1447 words. Chs. 1 - 15: 67,628 words. Comments: Hatch opens up like a flower.

19 comments:

Lucy said...

We always have the subtitles on with DVDs, and TV too, because Tom is deaf as a post, beyond the usual for his age. Though I don't think I've lost much hearing yet, I have become quite dependent on these too, and there certainly are bits of dialogue, off-screen asides etc that I would miss without them, sometimes they are quite important. Also the noise of music, effects etc would be unpleasantly loud if it were at a level where I could hear all the dialogue in full. I do think deafness may well be nature's way of protecting ageing people from a world they may well want to hear less and less of anyway.

(8) sounds really nice.

They do say we don't lose half as many of our faculties as we think, but worrying about it makes it worse.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Perhaps I should have added an eleventh point: getting old has made me techno-stupid. I never thought of sticking on the subs for TV entertainment that was nominally in English. You may not approve but this now provides an excellent reason for watching the five series of "The Wire" all over again.

Worrying. Although I have only touched on this it is far deeper, wider and less escapable than anything else. It is a genuine and worsening ailment but not really fit for a blog.

I am come from a family where severe deafness is endemic and I sympathise with Tom. In my continuing attempts at robust comment I hope I haven't said anything that was unintentionally wounding. I have noticed with a heavily developed sense of irony that whereas blindness invokes sympathy deafness frequently, and unforgivably, causes irritation.

Sir Hugh said...

For me (only slightly younger), one sign of disintegration is the much more frequently uttered phrase from my daughter: "Let me do that Dad".

Avus said...

At last - a full-face photo of you, BB!
I lag a couple of years behind you, but some of your headings apply:

1.Death:
I hope I have that one sorted (we will see!) I do not intend to be a burden. Quick, doing something I enjoy (motorcycling) would be good. Cannot imagine there should, or need be anything beyond (again – we will see!)
2.Clumsiness:
Not a problem (yet).
3.Irritation:
Better able to cope with this one than when I was a young man. Age is bringing a certain serenity and detachment.
4.Deafness:
53 years of motorcycling and ear plugs were unknown/unworn for the first 23. Have lost the higher registers and tinnitus is apparent.
5.Keyboard skills:
Have noticed, increasingly, that I can transpose letters/syllables and miss capitals when typing outruns accuracy.
6.Car driving:
Still seems OK. 25 years as a road safety officer, much in charge of advanced driver/rider training has stood me in good stead. (although, as reactions dull with age, I motorcycle accordingly). I have my driving assessed yearly.
7.End of day relaxation:
I could not agree more! Maybe a glass of wine with dinner, a stiffish G&T, a comfortable chair and a light snooze (20 minutes) gets me ready to walk the dog.
8.Booze:
See 7, above. Always in moderation. Have only been drunk twice (both in the army) and do not relish that sensation at all!
9.Vocabulary:
Am finding, increasingly, that the word I need is on the tip of my tongue, yet cannot dredge it from memory – sometimes have to use a phrase, where I know one word would suffice.

However, I can summon up the name of the current prime minister and am good at mental arithmetic (both of which, I gather are tests for senility)

Plutarch said...

We,too, use the subtitles for American DVDs not so much on account of affliction (but a bit of that too) as of inabiltiy to understand the way actors speak their lines. There seems to be an American cinematic fashion of mumbling and swallowing consonants. If we get round to watching The Wire we will certainly use subtitles. Having said that I would rather do without the intrusion if possible.

Relucent Reader said...

1. "Death is easy, dying is hard", or so the saying goes. I have an inkling as to how I will go, so that form is not important. Just not in the smallest room, or some other absurd place,please. My atheism tells me death is the price of the ticket for the ride, and that suffices.
2.Not an issue yet.
3. Plenty of THAT, Epictetus and his followers notwithstanding.
4. I have 'tanker's ear', from engine noise, intercom, and radio through the Combat Vehicle Crew helmet.
5, Heck, I'm an American, and have probs with DVD dialogue. The DVDs played on our new player have been BBC 'Lord Peter' stories and '300', which is noisy anyways. I have to crank the volume.
6. HA, never had 'em, my sole regret. I type frequently in my job and life, and sure can use something other than the 'Columbus' method (hunt for it and land on it).
7. I seem to be getting in people's way more often.....
8. Can't read as much; can't pick up a novel, unless it is for re-reading....
9. Fine distillates and good beer are part and parcel of the journey mentioned in (1). The last time I was drunk, I was in the army. A glow is nice,though my heart condition precludes too big a shine.
10. I make a point of trying to keep the vocabulary skills up, nothing like a 25 cent word to boggle mouth breathers.A good typo will give me minutes of amusement.

The Crow said...

1. Doesn't matter - much - as long as I can still call the shots, I'm not connected to miles of tubes and intrusive machines, nor drown, nor stabbed, nor burnt to death. Guess it does matter somewhat, after all.
2. Mine is tripping over my own feet, or my shadow.
3. Right with you, brother. Don't know how to stop it sometimes.
4 and 5. Not bad yet except for American TV and DVDs. What's up with that?!
6. Mild dyslexia manifests in my typing, especially when I type fast.
7. I'm not the problem on the road - it's all those idiots in the other automobiles. Makes me wish I were in a tank and could blow their butts into another universe. Oops, there's that irritation thing again.
8. Born in the year of the boar, it is my god-given right to wallow whenever I damned well want to - get up!
9. Rarely drink - memories of my old man and diabetes get in the way.
10. Vocabulary was better when I was younger, but wasn't extensive then. Undereducated.

Women are difficult to understand. You just have to pay attention.

The Crow said...

Uh...that was supposed to be "Women aren't difficult to understand."

Except maybe this one.

Julia said...

I'm a fan of subtitles too - I think they are almost necessary as we keep the volume lower for the loud "boomy" bits and still want to understand dialogue.

Barrett Bonden said...

I over-compressed the initial para to the detriment of clarity. What I meant to say is that old age brings changes that can be, and are, predicted. However others come as surprises.

Sir Hugh: This tendency manifests itself on the drive to and from the villa in SJdlB during which Younger Daughter hates to be driven.

Avus: Again I may have over-compressed. My contemplation of death has to do with possible/probable natural departures, not those self-engineered. As my profile shows I have renounced my WR birthright; it's quite likely the WR will hit back in an ironic vein with something pulmonary. There's nothing beyond, of course, or if there is it will be full of Tories which amounts to the same thing.

Plutarch: It became the vogue, started by Robert Altman, to overlap the end of one scene's dialogue with that of the following (eg, in MASH). Then overlapping in general grew in popularity. The thing I'm referring to is technical (it occurs too often in a variety of films) and does require subs.

RR: I suppose if we are proved wrong and the gate opens up on a Paradise populated by Dubyas and his ilk, there'll be a bloody good argument before it closes. I'm interested to hear that Americans have problems with DVD dialogue - it's as if the sound has been discriminated against to accommodate more visual stuff. We attach different values to what constitutes an obscure/difficult word: you say 25-cent, I say $5; I think we should narrow this gap a little. The only new stuff I read is junk (eg, US police court procedurals), otherwise I re-read; don't want to be startled.

Crow: I merely contemplate the way; once I shoved it from my mind. I hope this might be a sign of adulthood. Irritation can have a stimulating effect; the problem is that my old-age irritation is way out of proportion to the cause and is therefore wasteful of human effort. Drink: am I only one who topes, or would like to? Vocabulary not necessarily a function of education, rather the desire to know. Women: so you think I should just listen to them, eh? Why do think I have a 60/40% gender split in my link list?

Julia: You've just outlined another problem with DVDs: widely varying sound levels. I really must try an episode of "The Wire" with the subs turned up. Of course, given the idiosyncratic approach of the director and the writers, there may not be any subs.

The Crow said...

That 60%-40% split means only that more women than men follow/respond to your posts. Doesn't mean, necessarily, that you pay attention, which is not the same as listening.

However, I believe that you do more than your fair share of paying attention to what women are all about. Otherwise, we wouldn't still be here.

Hattie said...

Have you considered getting a cheap hearing aid? I use a disposable one called the Songbird. It's for ordinary age related deafness. You can look it up on the Internet.
I have hearing loss in the speech sound range, mostly, and tinnitus.
I wear my hearing aid, just one in my right ear, when watching movies on DVD and in social situations. I enjoy these things again!
Hearing loss is insidious, because you blame the situation instead of your own failing senses and become grumpy as result!
I'm laughing as a I recall several elderly gentlemen I know that I saw trying to conduct a conversation. They were all stubborn old guys who would never wear hearing aids. One of them would say something. There would be a long long pause. Then someone else would say something. Long pause. It was kind of sad but funny too.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: The links list was compiled by me: it's a meritocracy, getting on there is like graduating summa cum laude. And it's not all one-way traffic I can tell you. The desert behind is strewn with dry bones.

Hattie: Thanks for that. I've had tinnitus for years and I can tell it's stress related. I haven't reached the stage yet where I need a hearing aid, one reason being we lead (always have led) a limited social life and conversations tend to be limited to us and another couple. There's another reason and perhaps it hints at why my social life is limited. Where it's essential that I need to understand someone, I switch into journalistic mode and control what's said by asking questions. Some find this quite rude; others are flattered. You win some...

Avus said...

Shame on you, BB! Are you, a Guardian reader, a traitor to your beliefs in that you imagine paradise is reserved only for Tories?
(I suppose the biblical
Jehovah comes across as pretty right wing, but his "Son" would seem to have pretty good left wing credentials - I could see him causing a stir if he turned up at a bishop's conference!)

herhimnbryn said...

I understand the 'bolt of fear' in your second point. As I get older I seem to be breaking more precious pieces of crockery. Now, I pick the shards up and take them out to the studio.

My typing skills (always minimal) seem to be getting worse too. Also, when reading I can completely change the meaning of a phrase by misreading a word and have to go back and read again.

Thanks for the info re noise on long flights. Have answered your concerns over at my place.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Let me put it another way. All the descriptions of paradise reveal a place only Tories would be happy in. As to accommodating that well-known revolutionary hoodie, JC, it will be like Tower Records at Kingston-upon-Thames: three floors devoted to pop and on the top floor a small sound-proof cubicle where you could at least handle the Mass in B Minor jewel case without risking intellectual corruption.

HHB: I could comfort you and say you're nobbut a lass but if I'm anything to go by the attachment to certain objects (but not everything, thank goodness) will grow with age. I was delighted to hear about your ear-phones and I hope you can let us all know how well they work for you. Ideally this experiment should be conducted in the luggage hold.

Rouchswalwe said...

(2, 3, 8) 'Go the gym more' is what I tell myself.
(6, 7, 9, 10) 'Brew ale to keep my brain and fingers nimble' I say.
(4, 5) I worry more about blindness - got bifocals for the first time last year. Bah!
(1) I die a little every day and find this puts more life in my day.
Aging - I am most thankful that my friends and I are aging together. It helps to walk the road together and to converse on things over a pint of satisfying ale.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): Never mind about your friends ageing at the same rate, so's Rush Limbaugh. Given his excessses he may also qualify for this imperfectly remembered line from Richard III: "the king has much consumed his royal person." As to the bifocals, get into the habit of sliding them down your nose and giving people long silent looks; it helps create a reputation for penetrating sagacity (which may, in any case, be true).

Lucy said...

I tope. So.