Take a flatteringly-cut, non button-through, inflammable, colourful piece of material in a lovely fabric, in a size more suited to a person than a giant balloon, sold in shops and not advertised in a magazine supplement.
Wave an Opposite wand over it and wrap it in tissue.
Ring the doorbell of an Old Person, leave it on the doorstep and hide behind a bush.
Enjoy the look of delirious contentment on the face of the recipient.
If you spend enough time with an Old Person, you will find them drawing certain phrases out of you, like an iron absorbing wax into brown paper.
Later in the evening, you are likely to find yourself in a contemporary bar situation, with your sexy start-up business cards tucked into the pocket of your ironic jumpsuit, saying, ‘That’s the trouble these days’ and ‘Too true- it’s turned quite chilly.’
Small amounts of money are the most important things, bar none, in the life of an Old Person.
Oldies are, by turns, staggered, shocked, traumatized and victimized by the little brown coins nesting in their well-worn wallets.
This is because anything which costs over 50 pence is a total disgrace, further indicating the general disintegration of civilized society.
And the little pennies attached at the end are the final insult: ‘Three pounds TWENTY TWO PENCE.’
These vex Old People, combining as they do the twin pre-occupations of Planning and Remembering.
Chastened by the accumulation of life’s experiences, new challenges become ever more worrisome for the aged, until there comes the day when spontaneous is only ever used in conjunction with the word combustion (and mis-used, for all that, because the blaze at Mrs Witherspoon’s house was actually started by her gas fire, which is never turned off, ever, even in the Summer)
All events, therefore, have to be planned to within an inch of their life. And birthdays are big events for Old People because unlike everything else, they have not changed since the war and the celebration of a family one is often an inter-generational event.
However, in order to plan, one has to remember and memory is not always an Old Person’s best friend.
Consequently, large swathes of time are spent looking in diaries and telephoning relatives, asking them about forthcoming birthdays.
Subsequent to which, the panicking about what gift to purchase from the charity shop and which sepia birthday card to pick out from the local newsagent.
Subsequent to which, frantic looking in diaries and telephoning relatives asking them whose birthday it actually is, which is forthcoming.
Incidentally, they generally love their own.
They step schmaltzily into the lop-sided, comfy slippers of the much-loved family figure-head, playing wicked inheritence mind-games with relatives and eating their own bodyweight in ginger cake.
When it is time for the birthday song, they will smile gummily to try to conceal both their smugness at outlasting all their friends and their desire to reach the big 100 and get in the local paper, where they will relish revealing their violently anti-Omega 3 egg-eating secrets to a long life:
‘300 cigarettes a day and a tub of lard for lunch.’
Old people love these professionals, for good reason.
Occasionally the feeling is not mutual.
This is because it’s hard seeing a 90 year old person complaining incredulously about a crick in their neck, without leaning over and adjusting their hearing aid, to say, ‘What the @£$% do you expect?’
It is the reason that all local surgeries keep a box of generic prescriptions in a tray, which they delve into lucky dip-styley, every time they see a Creaky approaching.
When it is time for the medication to be repeated, the receptionists eagerly await the telephone call, explaining in rich detail why the caller is unable to leave the house themselves to pick it up.
And could someone possibly go and fetch it for them and buy them a packet of boiled sweets while they are there?