Friday 26 January 2018

Age - Does it really matter?


Age - Does it really matter?

It's a new year so everyone will be adding another year to their ages. Firstly Grandad, in January. Then our children in February, me in March, our daughter-in-law in April and son-in-law in May. Another year, another number.
The grandchildren will be joyous at the extra year and some of the adults will be sad, but why? Age - does it really matter? If you have health and happiness surely there's little difference in being twenty-nine or thirty?

In March I will be sixty-two. I am surprised at how large that number is but not worried. I cried on my twentieth birthday, that was the last time I worried about how old I was. I loved being a teenager, no responsibilities and all the freedoms. I wanted to be a teenager forever. To me, twenty was the same as forty or fifty or sixty. Just a huge number that I didn't care about.

Let me take you back 60 years.

Imagine a small child looking out the window at the big children playing. They are laughing, making dens and riding a red bike. Despite what you read about how we all played outside in the good old days, disappointingly at two I wasn't allowed out to play.

That bike was so big. Every week I would try to sit on it to the same comments from my father "when you sit on it and your feet touch the ground, you can ride it". What awful tyranny that was, I couldn't even get onto the saddle without help.

I knew one day I would be allowed out to ride that bike, I just had to wish the years away. Eventually, I was 4 and I rode that bike! It was just the right size. I had watched every child in the street ride that bike before me. OK, it was a small street but that bike was a legend. My brother, who is eight years younger than me, also rode that bike.

After the bike, I coveted roller skates. I knew if I was older I would have my own and not have to beg or share one odd skate. My sister was older, she had a pair of her own. She was an expert, she glided, she rolled, she turned. Better and faster than anyone else. I just knew I could do that if I only had a pair rather than the odd one. Just give me the chance and I could do that!

The skates we had fitted over your shoes so had to be adjusted each time. There was a special spanner that could never be found. I wished the years away so I was old enough to have my own skates but I never did have a pair of skates, just one. So I put an annual on it. Sat upon the book and down the hill I went. So fast! No brakes, no stopping.

I am now seven. I want to be nine - I remember wanting to be nine but cannot remember why. My sister is three years older so I should have wanted to be ten so I could do everything she could do, but nine seemed to be a milestone.

Ten, the first in double numbers "well done", they all shout and celebrate.
Eleven, a new school, new fears, new friends, just so grown up but still a child.

Thirteen. Everyone wants to be a teenager. Wow, it's going to be so much better than twelve. Not at all, it's a letdown. Nothing changes. Not like being four and being allowed to ride "the bike" or nine and being allowed to do whatever nine year olds can. No thirteen is hell, no wonder it is an unlucky number. You may be a teenager like eighteen but are still treated like a child of twelve.

My friend, Yvonne, was the youngest of three. Her brother and sister were so much older than her, at least ten years older. They lived a glamorous life, visiting foreign places like Monte Carlo and riding Vespa scooters. Everyone wanted to be older like them. Twenty-one was a cool age to be. It meant you were an adult and could do whatever you wanted.

In 1969 the voting age was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen and overnight a generation of teenagers became adults.

Then in 1970, I was fourteen. Oh, my world changed. I lied to my parents so I could go to parties. I lied so I could go to concerts in Hyde Park. Then fifteen .... sixteen, sweet sixteen. I thought I was grown up but I was so young and still had no respect from anyone.

Then I lied to get into the cinema and lied to stay in the pub. I had spent my youth wanting to be older and lying about my age.

At eighteen I got married. It took three weeks from proposal to wedding day. No, I wasn't pregnant, the usual reason in the 1970s to marry quickly, we just wanted to live in Greece, together. Even though I was now an adult and could vote I still had rules to follow. Get married then live together. That was the done thing.

The done thing - get engaged, get married, live together, have children. We just got married and hitchhiked across Europe.

So now I'm eighteen and able to do whatever I want, except I can't. I am poor. Poverty stops everyone from having fun. The freedom of my youth came with the realisation that I needed money, therefore I had to work, therefore responsibility. There was no opportunity to work in Greece legally and our money was running out. I had no choice. I had to return to the UK and get a job.

With a job comes responsibilities. Rent, bills, shopping. At nineteen I was living in Cardiff away from my hometown and totally responsible for myself. I could stay up all night, go to wild parties. Anything I chose, but I had to get up the next day and go to work. I had to do washing (without a machine or dryer! Imagine that). The freedoms I dreamt of when I was fourteen didn't seem to exist.

Then the BIG BIRTHDAY arrives. TWENTY!! I hated that day, I have no memories of it, other than I cried and probably got very drunk. I was no longer a teenager, numbers now do not matter.

Age - Does it really matter?

The one thing I have learnt is that once you are an adult, age doesn't matter. Since 1976 every time I am asked my age I have to work it out, it really doesn't matter. I once spent a whole year telling everyone I was a year older than my true age, I only realised my mistake when my birthday approached. Once you hit adulthood, you are only as old as you feel. If you want to stay young, then do things, stay active, have fun just don't fret over it, all those worry lines will not help!

Just as I was about to publish this I had a quick read through, I am 61! Oh dear, I've been thinking I was 62, so on my birthday in March I stay the same age. For me, age doesn't matter at all.

If you could choose an age to go back to (even just for a day) what would it be?




  1. Eesh! I did not think you were that age....I thought about mid fifties at the oldest. What wonderful memories!
    Age really is just a number. I always forget how old I am & have to work it out too.

    1. Haha! Thank you, that's my point (I think?) I just know so many people worry about their age and it's sad, because every age is golden.


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