Monday 18 January 2010

The Joy of Text

Just before Christmas I lost my mobile phone, a random act of perimenopausaul madness? Probably. Of course with mobile -dependency at an all time high over the festive period, I was in a bit of a pickle because, obviously, I hadn't backed up those all important numbers one mindlessly sticks in the phone. However, having got over the initial shock and horror it was a strangely liberating experience, no paranoid rummaging through the handbag halfway through the movie wondering did I/didn't I turn it off (I once got a text, mercifully undetected, four rows from the front while Dames Judi and Maggie were giving it their all. The thought still brings me out in a cold sweat). No frantic checking, annoying interruptions, confusing texts or missed calls that randomly change plans but never actually reach you in time. My home phone began to ring again with the voices of family and friends as they learnt of my plight, instead of unknown well-wishers enquiring after my need for a new credit card. This is the way forward, I thought, I'm going to massively reduce my gratuitous use of the mobile phone. A resolution that went right out the window within the first 24 hours of firing up the replacement...........

But, with so many ways to keep in touch why, then, is it so hard to communicate? Is it just my age, or do things seem to be more complicated now we have phones, mobile phones, answer phones and computers? I tried to make an arrangement with a couple of friends last week. A series of communal emails were deployed followed up with changes by texts and then finally the whole thing was cancelled by email, and back up phone calls, because I don't sit in front of my laptop all weekend or own a pocket sized email receiver. Whatever happened to one conversation to decide time and place and to which the only reason you didn't show was you were either hospitalised or dead? Messages criss-crossed out of sequence and all in all it was confusing and exhausting.

As if that wasn't enough, now my mother has embraced silver-surfing. When she's not 'waiting in' for an email (I've tried explaining the fact that it's not a telegram and it's beauty is that you can go out and yet still receive) then she's writing missives followed by phone calls to ask if I've seen said email yet, and then she tells me what's in it. I've had to put a block on her sending me anymore links to random things or pictures of the dog or snow or the dog in the snow. It really is more information than I require.

And then there's the joy of texting and all it's hidden dangers. A friend of mine who otherwise appears to be sailing through her menopause with the greatest of ease, keeps accidentally sending texts to my home phone by mistake. So it is that I discover day-old messages from a nameless, electronic voice telling me it's: 'running late, make it at 8' or 'will meet you there instead'..... After a lovely evening with an old friend who'd recently moved, I sent him a text confirming my enjoyment, saying 'your home looks lovely well done'. However, I didn't check the predictive spelling and sent 'your good looks lovely well done' which he thought meant I was congratulating him on still being good looking and led to a rather confusing response, although it also earned me several compliments too. Then I received a random message from a woman I'd recently met, saying 'Big kiss'. Dazed and confused, and with imagination working overtime, I wondered long and hard what it might mean. Of course what it actually meant was her nephew had not received his birthday text.....

To tip: Let Nurse Jackie, BBC 2, Monday 10pm, get you through January.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

A Voyage Round My Mother

And so that was Christmas..........and here we are, 2010. Is that twenty ten or two thousand and ten? If we're going to say twenty twelve what about twenty eleven? Because that really doesn't sound right. And does it really matter?

Anyway, all I said was; 'you should have asked me' and the next thing I knew my mother was packing. My mother wants to go to India, Tamal Nadu to be exact, Ooty to be precise, to visit the orphanage she and my step-father supported. She last went to India after my father died and now, unfortunately, she has been widowed again, and wants to go back. Do we see a pattern forming? Anyway, she didn't have anyone to go with and I have been, several times, before. So all I said was............and now it's 'are we there yet' ..... every day. So it looks like we're heading south for February and there are far worse places to spend February, personally my least favourite month, but first there are jabs and visas and tickets to sort out, maps to peruse and calls to be made, but she remains undaunted.

I am not the only one planning to escape the winter blues though, if my yoga group is anything to go by, and travel is certainly not the prerogative of the young. At the post-Christmas yoga lunch the 68 year old was discussing her up-coming trip to Egypt, another 60something is off to Thailand next week and the one in her late 50s is going to Australia and New Zealand for a month. It was only the 94 year old who was staying put, declaring that she was no longer allowed to fly on planes..........but anyway, she really didn't care and was far too busy planning her 95th birthday celebrations. It turned out she met her husband in Ooty and if it wasn't for the fact that she's rather deaf (her only visible ailment) I would liked to have learnt more, perhaps when we're not sitting across a crowded table. Being mindful of the snow falling outside, and with things still to do that day, none of us drank alcohol except the 94 year old who puts her youthful good health down to walking holidays, yoga, red wine and champagne when she can get it. Inspiring doesn't seem a big enough word for these wonderful women.

It would appear that old people are definitely on the move and the rise of the silver backpacker is on the up. Ten years ago I spent three months with my then 9 year old son travelling on the cheap in Thailand and India. We met only two other couples with kids and at 39 (the son would proudly announce it to anyone who would listen) I was head and shoulders above the average age of any bar, cafe or beach we happened upon, apart from the few leather-skinned old German 'freaks' with their sun bleached hair or the odd toothless English man with an Om earring and an empty chillum. Now, you can't move for buggies on the beach, balding blokes with middle-age spreads and octogenarians giving their arthritis a break from the wet weather back home. Every one's SKIing (Spending the Kids' Inheritance) and why not? As Joan, 72, said to me: "I can live like a Queen in Goa on my pension"........

Top tip: To feel constantly young and vital, join something for which you are the youngest member.