Turning 70

April 29, 2022 Off By Mark Paul

I have always been content with being alone.  Being alone and doing nothing.  I think this is hard for a lot of people but for me it’s easy.  I don’t know where it comes from, it may be a disfunction for all I know.  Some buddhists say we are human being not human doing!   My schooling was an unmitigated disaster.  I don’t remember much from that long ago but I do remember sitting in the woods smoking, one of the schools big taboos.  I was with a few other guys.  We were talking about classes, exams and stuff.  I listened but didn’t take much notice, and don’t recall anything of what was said.  I just remember saying that I wasn’t going to do any work, I can get along without qualifications!  So I didn’t, work that is.  Not a stroke!  I messed around, broke the rules.  It was only because I was good at sports that I even survived without being expelled.


So I started my life after school as a complete failure on an academic level.  The lack of incentive or ambition stayed with me and after school whenever I went to work for a company, my efforts were half-hearted at best.  I played, that’s all I wanted to do. When I was 17 years old I spent the time I should have been taking my o-levels, sitting in a Wimpy Bar or wandering the streets of London.  I didn’t even attend the various locations where my exams took place.  My parents never found out.  I think I probably let them down a bit.  My Dad got my whole education completely wrong.  In his fervor to give my brother and I the same opportunities he tried to send us to the same schools.  Needless to say I failed the entrance exams miserably and ended up at a new, so-called all-boys “Public” boarding school in Hampshire.  There was a spark in me.  I loved music and art and English Language and excelled in these subjects, but this school added a new me into the mix, a rebel, a recalcitrant troublemaker!


My brother Chris went to university and on his first return home he introduced me to cannabis.  This was the real beginning of a consolidated career of work and responsibility avoidance.  My total focus was on escape and play through alcohol and drugs, well dope mainly and later some cocaine.  I tried heroine once, acid and mushrooms a few times.  They were amazing, but not for me as I really didn’t like the feeling of being out of control.


Now I am 70 years old.  I haven’t done drugs for years and very little alcohol.  I tire easily, my once endless stamina has all but gone.   I have no regrets except perhaps one.  That I didn’t stay on the property ladder.  I owned one flat and sold it and from then on rented.  So now at the beginning of my advanced years, I feel a little vulnerable that the house I call my home is entirely at the disposal of a landlord. So when I heard about a couple that had rented their home for thirty seven years and were given 8 weeks notice to get out it kind of shook the ground beneath me!


I still have dreams, of building my own log home, living near the sea.  Travelling in a motorhome.  But these dreams are fading.  I know I no longer have the energy to build my own log home but I could still have it done for me given a lottery win!  But I see these dreams as if through a window now.  A window that is seized up, stuck closed with paint and years.  Those dreams are beyond reality now and I watch them fade into oblivion, just as I fade into oblivion, unseen or unobserved by people or remaining family.  Unless I get some substantial windfall then I will live out my days with Shelley here in this beautiful backwater that will always belong to someone else.


I love my family and I’ve never missed them more than now.  Chris most of all.  You always remember the way someone looks from when you last saw them.  Chris never really had a chance to age.  Nor did my Dad.  There is no up side to getting old, it just sucks!  Even the small things get harder.  Bending down.  Getting down on the knees to tie a shoe lace or throw another log on the stove.  Pain that will never go away, like arthritis.  Not being able to run, ever again!  Not even having the energy to concentrate on learning to play the piano!


Work slowed down significantly when Annie died prematurely. She was my contact in London and fed a lot of clients to me over the years. She was a friend and I will miss her always. My work creating websites has all but dried up.  All that’s left are a few accounts to maintain.  I spend my days sitting in front of a 10 year old computer as if waiting for something to happen, a genuine email (among the junk).  A response to a facebook post that never comes.  So I fall asleep and for a while there is nothing except that blissful lack of consciousness until I wake up and all the aches and pains and heavy fatigue and woeful ageing and worry hit me again, and only an hour has passed!  FreeCell, Solitaire, Minesweeper, around and around ad infinitum.  And, so one day rolls into the next and the next and the next, and the names of the days become irrelevant and forgotten.  My saving grace is Shelley, my doggy Beau, my horses and the beauty all around me.  But I’m not sure this is enough any more!


My lovely daughter Emily, who came back into my life a few years ago lives far away so we communicate via text mostly.  Emotionally abused by her mother who remains as twisted and screwed up today as she ever was.  She (Emily) weathered the abuse and is a lovely person, but damaged and a little scattered.  Thanks to her mother she doesn’t even carry part of my name.  I have asked her to remedy this but I fear it is too much to ask as time has a way of entrenching most things.


Though I am happy to some extent I feel stupid, forgetful, powerless and alone!  Sometimes frustrated and angry.  Sometimes I just want it all to end.  But when this comes to mind I think immediately of Shelley, and how hard it will be for her without me.  She too has retained her good nature against all odds.  An emotionally abused and oppressed upbringing., she feels outcast still.  Hiding from society.  Oddly, she is wonderful with people but there is little or no trust.  Sometimes she’ll make a new friend and she puts too much store in it.  And she gets let down and hurt.  That’s hard for her to take but in a strange sort of way she sets herself up for it and comes to expect it.  This invocation will be hard to break and at her age probably beyond a fix.


Susan, my dear cousin that I was so close to when we were young.  She feels distant now.  Her daughter Zoe got married, had a huge wedding, invited Teresa and not me.  I was heartbroken when I found out. I brought it up on Facebook public posts.  Got a bad reaction.  Zoe saw it.  I’m glad she did.  I thought our family was always so close.  In later years the only time we would see each other was weddings and funerals.  She invited Teresa who came all the way from America, why couldn’t she (Zoe) add me to the guest list.  A chance to see my sister if nothing else.  What difference would one more person make to an already burgeoning guest list.  It put me in the place of the least wanted person.  I loved our family gatherings with a passion.  This was and still is hard to process!  I feel angry, upset, disappointed.


I have Shelley and I love her with all my heart, but I feel on a downward trajectory, physically mainly, but I suppose I will never again in my life experience the kind of caring love my mother gave me.  I try to live in her example.  She cared so much.  I try to do the same.  I suppose we all have our vulnerabilities, shortcomings, emotional challenges, but in this day of social media the world has never been more fragmented, broken, and separated.  People with a sense of entitlement or self-importance that will never be recognized.  With little empathy we hurt each other consciously and unconsciously with impunity, hurting animals and nature for our own fleeting pleasure.  I’ll be glad when my time comes.  Truly.  But not yet.  I need to take care of some things first.  Most of all Shelley.  I want to leave her safe, secure and comfortable.  This is my one single priority and my remaining life-long focus.


Reaching 70 years of age, I feel like I’ve taken a step into a twilight world! A parallel dimension faded from view. Suddenly, there are new rules just for me, like, having to renew my driving license every two or three years! Can’t wait for 75, I get to be exempt for a TV licence!! 70 is an age even I called “old”!!