The first time a young man gave me his seat I was appalled. How old does he think I am? I glared at the poor guy and he blushed at my refusal. That was some time ago. In the interim I went to Moscow where men get up for any woman and my natural pragmatism took over. It pissed me off that in London they only offered a seat to me and not to my friend – I had always thought she looked older than me. Now I find it irritating when a teenager sits, studiously peering at their book in the seat that says it is for disabled or people less able to stand. I am working up to being stroppy (confident) enough to challenge them. I must say that young girls are more likely to give me their seat, and I AM dodgy on my pins.
So who says that the old don’t change? There’s a popular concept that people begin as socialists and then travel rightwards during our lives. My heroic brother- in-law is ninety three and attended the march last month. So some of us don’t change but are consistent in our ethics in a changing world. My husband became a Blairite in his final few years, in part to annoy me but not entirely. He would watch him with an approving gentle smile while I chewed the cushions.
Some old people become less confident and scuttle in an apologetic manner as they go for their pensions as if they don’t have rights any more; they develop an extremely irritating patience as if their time is not important. My own view is that I may not have long to live so I intend to get the most out of my declining (?) years and every second counts. Whereas the young have a very long time and can afford to wait. I tend to exercise this prerogative in pubs especially because one of the most noticeable changes is the barmen prefer to serve desirable young creatures of the distaff kind and males are far more aggressive with their notes in their hands demanding service NOW. I have polished up my own natural aggression to contend with this phenomena and it is now one of my more enjoyable competitive sports.
I dislike young men who feel it imperative to overtake me, after spotting my decrepitude and then turn off at the next exit. My friend has a left hand drive car of ferocious appearance with bits off it, I call it the chariot, and she drives as many Italians do with a great propensity for carving people up using bus lanes to overtake and a marvellous style. At first I cringed and made apologetic signs, now I enjoy the young men’s faces. She is fearless while I drive like an auntie. She also has a way with queues that I disapprove of but am prepared to exploit.
I think what I am saying is that we vintage ones are pretty variable and can be nice or nasty or both. The thing that I think we should avoid at all costs is being ‘sweet old ladies’. Or ladies of any ilk. And in our turn what we want is respect for our right to be. Just like the young do really!