Traveling with an old person is like having your eyes gouged out of your head, with a running commentary on how the ordeal is progressing.
The physical endeavour, the crucial moral imperative of punctuality, the gathering of tickets and the inability to reflect on matters other than those taking place in real time, all conspire to make it a chilling experience, in obvious need of a quavery voice-over:
‘Is that bus ever going to arrive? Does it even go from this stop? Don’t panic, Cyril, here it is, it’s coming around the corner’…
Getting in and out of cars.
There’s nothing more that can be added to this.
Try doing it with an old person.
It just takes your breath away.
Once in a while, an old person is offered the opportunity to cross their front porch, to visit some gardens in Eastbourne.
Anybody who might facilitate such an expedition is to be regarded as a saint, or possibly an ex-criminal trying to make amends.
Transportation aside (see above) there are other hurdles to be leap-frogged before the wonderful bouquet of a gardenia can be whiffed by a wrinkly nose, including: the canceling of meals on wheels on the right date; the gathering of accessories (hats, scarves, handbags, pull-overs, walking sticks, zimmers, teeth, spectacles, house keys, house keys, house keys); the negotiating of deeply-entrenched petty jealousies on the coach, which preclude certain day-trippers from sitting near each other; the preventing of mass transference of pieces of Battenberg cake, wrapped in hankies, to coat-dress pockets at lunchtime; and the safe return of the Crumbly to their home, in time for Corrie.
Old people take the post very seriously indeed. Before it hits the be-crumbed, patterned carpet, every bill is meticulously settled, crossed off in a gnarled chequebook and balanced on a separate bank balancing sheet.
The concept of junk mail is not one with which they are familiar, believing every piece of paper addressed ‘to the owner’, to have been deliberately mailed to their person.
It is why they are so fabulous to scam out of money and so confused as to why anyone would want to repeatedly present them with a picture of a pizza.
Having little passion for the internet and no regard for credit cards, Oldies claim post office queues as their exclusive domain.
Otherwise known as ‘The Crocodiles’ Crocodiles’, these Royal Snail lines stage the informal re-union of beige Debenham macs, whose luke-warm mannequins universally clutch electricity bill stamps and a letter to their children, enclosing a clipping from the gardening section of Take A Break, with ‘Of any interest?’ written over it, in spooky writing.
Unsavoury and ungenerous though it may be to contemplate, it is not hard to believe that the real reason for country-wide post-office closures, is for the purpose of fumegation.
Old people invite these into their homes, like Bridget Bardot collects cats, as proof to the vicar that they really do have 375 great grand children (and a crush on Prince William), when he pops in for tea.
By the time they become really extremely old indeed, no patch of the wall will be unadorned by a fading Kodak moment, transforming their living rooms into something resembling the HQ of a serial killer.
This is one of their more harmless past-times, unless, of course, the eyes of a certain relative have been consistently cut out with blunt scissors.