Getting older can be fun...
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So Lonely, by The Police - so often misheard and much funnier that way
Ageing. It’s not about diminished hearing or being unable to get up once you get down, it’s about maintaining confidence and, when you do get it wrong, getting it wrong in style.
It came to me in a flash - unlike most things - when we were watching television, last weekend. It was the first episode of Bodyguard, about a protection officer charged with keeping the Home Secretary safe. Had the politician in question been Boris Johnson, I can tell you now, there is no way with this bodyguard looking after him, he would have been left dangling on a zip wire. Mind you, it’s a TV drama so it’s just pretend.
Catching up with the first episode of Bodyguard, my husband and I got to the very last line spoken and looked at each askance.
“What did he say?”
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“I don’t know – it sounded like ‘lavender unburned’.
“That’s what I thought it was.”
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It is well known that as people get older their hearing becomes less acute and they can find it difficult to separate out what the characters on TV are saying from the show’s background music. It becomes even more difficult when the actors are persuaded to mumble because, according to the prevailing nonsense, it’s “more realistic”. It is also extremely vexing.
In this case, however, there was no background music and everyone enunciated well, so believing we must be losing our aural faculties, we pressed rewind and listened to the line again... this time with furrow-browed concentration.
We concluded that it still sounded like “lavender unburned” and resolved ourselves to possibly never knowing the truth and maybe going to Boots the Chemist for a hearing check.
But it turned out we were too ready to assume we’d misheard or had been unable to distinguish the words. When we watched the second episode, “lavender unburned” suddenly made sense and what we thought we’d heard was, in fact, what we did hear. “Lavender” turned out to be the code name for the Home Secretary. We should have given ourselves more credit. After all, we’re not the first people to have had trouble with words. There are famously non-age-related misheard song lyrics that continue to amuse.
Bob Dylan’s “These ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind” (The answer my friend, is...), “I can see clearly now Lorraine (the rain) has gone”, “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat (me) with you”, and one of my all time favourites, The Police hit, “Sue Lawley” (So Lonely). And those Christmas classics: “Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names” (all of the other reindeer...).
Some are improved by the error.
We read about everything dropping off as we get older and we believe it. Once you’re told you can expect a few hearing difficulties, small bladder problems, cellulite, saggy boobs, creaky knees, memory lapse etc, you start to accept it’s happening, even when it’s not. Why? We are not statistics we are free men and/or women.
It is a matter of confidence. It is too easy to be defined by age - especially when you go to the doctor you’re told that what you are experiencing is only to be expected “at your age”.
Everyone has age-related symptoms. Little Herbie is having teething trouble, which is only to be expected at his age... six months. When he was a teenager, my son was diagnosed with “growing pains” ? only to be expected at his age.
At least no one says I’m at a “funny age” which was the standard excuse when, as children, we couldn’t find shoes to fit us, school uniform the right size, and wouldn’t kiss the auntie with the bristly moustache. While I have made certain allowances for my age I have decided that just about everything has a remedy, whether it be improving core strength, applying 3-in-1 to squeaky joints, purchasing scaffolded bras, exercising the pelvic floor, listening properly or memory training. Not that I am giving any sort of undertaking to do all or any of the aforementioned, mind you. It is enough to have confidence that everything is fine. I am not losing it.
• Just as I began writing this column, there was a knock at the door and the guy in Onion (or was it cabbage) van was outside with my grocery delivery.
“Just leave it in the hall,” I said, handing back a sheaf of plastic bags (for which I get a refund of 5p each),. He put down the bags, and, as he did so, some of the contents shifted - notably a pack of one dozen eggs.
When I checked, two were cracked so, rather than make a fuss (I hate a fuss) I decided to hard boil them and popped them both into a pan of cold water to boil.
I wrote a paragraph or two and then turned the heat down to simmer for another 10 minutes.
An hour and a half later, I finished writing... and remembered the eggs. They were indeed hard boiled, very hard boiled.