The other day I was parking my car just as a little old lady was pulling her shopping trolley up my road. She was puffing to catch her breath. The perimeter of my tiny front garden is marked out by a wall that is sort of bottom height, and as she reached it, she gave me a cheeky grin and sat down: “I hope you don’t mind dear” she said “but I always use your wall to have a rest when I’m on my way back from the shops!”
I smiled, and told her that I didn’t mind at all.
Of course, had it been a couple of blokes with cans of beer, or the local yoofs in hoodies with dangling cigarettes, I’m sure I’d have clipped them around the ear and chased them away – but a sweet old grandma taking a moment to rest her weary bones? How could I possibly object?
As I pondered that thought, it occurred that, had she pulled out a can of beer and a pack of smokes, I probably wouldn’t have said anything to her then either; and had I been her, I would have been tempted to do just that, while poking passing dogs with my walking stick and swearing at next door’s builders. Just to see how much mischief I could get away with.
This, surely, is the most awesome thing about being properly old. You could be as gentle as a lamb, or a cruel toothless hag, who drowns kittens and boils children, but no one will ever know just by looking at you. To the outside world, all eighty-something females are sweet grey haired grandmas, and that being the case, they can get away with pretty much anything. Basically, octogenarians are uniquely placed to mess with people.
Having come to this conclusion, I am now busy planning the myriad categories of trouble within which I will leap with great aplomb. Clothes are the obvious place to start. I’ve always been secretly jealous that it’s socially unacceptable to go to the supermarket in fancy dress much past the age of about seven. So on my eightieth birthday, I fully intend to go to Sainsbury’s dressed as Wonder Woman, after which I shall wear only bright colours and funky hats and I shall eat eclairs and smoke cigars. So there.
Next up comes inappropriate commentary towards the menfolk – and oh how I shall enjoy this. I will finally be able to avenge the years of sexist leers, whistles and cat calls, by ogling passing males and muttering unseemly suggestions, while winking lasciviously at them. I might even smack a bottom or two.
Finally, there’s the “being brutally honest with people I’ve never liked” category. Gone are the days when I have to pretend that I like my cousin’s girlfriend/neighbour’s brat/daughter’s best friend. I will simply be able to tell them that they are boring me stupid, their breath smells, and I pray daily for the moment I never have to see them again. It will just be a question of waiting for the right time to tell them. Their wedding reception, perhaps. Or one of those tortuously snooty Christmas drinks and nibbles parties.
There is literally no end to the amount of fun to be had, and if any of it gets me into trouble, I shall simply cry. No one can recover from making sweet old grandma cry at a party…….