“Legs, Bums and Tums” leaves me like an elderly beetle lying on my back with my legs waving in the air. I tried one perfect press-up, the others did six. Mine sagged in the middle and I collapsed long before my photograph could be taken. The worst part is leaving the ground, I’m fairly good at the jogging bit but the moment skipping is suggested, count me out. Touching toes with straight legs is beyond me, I just don’t bend enough. The real problem is my age, I could mother the lot of them, they’re a nice bunch, eyeing me warily and hoping Jackie knows what to do should I keel over. Now the gym for the over fifties is another matter. Vigorous? Yes, we also jog, touch all sorts of body parts while balancing on one leg, lie prone on the floor waving private parts in the air and bicycle no where vigorously. This class is nearer my age but I’m still the eldest. They are a ribald lot, answer back, moan and when the word waist is mentioned, gaze mournfully round the room in search of said waist. But why bother?
“The camels sniff the evening air and are glad”, so begins James Elroy Flecker’s lovely poem. I am not a camel, even my grand children who call me many names have not resorted to camel. I am oldish, wrinklyish, and have an embarrassing tendency to have a drip on the end of my nose especially when the wind blows, and I like walking. My group on Thursdays, is a merry bunch of retired folk, the odd townies peer at hay and ask if it’s straw, the men tend to man the gates and there is a preponderence of teachers. Most people clean their boots from week to week – I don’t, see no point. Woolly hats are de rigour, mine is white. We briskly march behind our leader and face the challenges of slopes and greasy paths, we pause, usually so I can catch up!
I wrote at length about my Saturday outing, quite a different kettle of fish, I described the hoare frost, the damp leaf mold, waxed eloquently about cawing rooks, frightened rabbits and other things scuttling in the bushes, but my editor banned it, yes, Saturdays are banned, I like them the best.
Growing old is fun, it’s a challenge. Just as coaxing a child to climb a rock so I need some coaxing and occasionally I need to be told a firm “No”. Yes. I do hold people back, but there is usually a wise crack and cocoa and biscuits back in the car. I love it, the moaning wind, frantic, scattered showers dolloping down as much rain as they can, the brilliant sun dragging ever longer shadows towards evening and the smell, muck and dead nettles, mulchy leaves and the first smells of spring. How many more springs do I have ? I don’t know but I’ll be out there if I can and if my family are generous enough to let me, or my worthy teachers and I’ll do my bit with Legs Bums and Tums at least so long as I can reach my knees. So long live old age and to hell with moaning minnies who want to wrap me in flannel and sit me down by the fire.