Thursday, 28 June 2012


Oh my god! There's a GOD squad!” I exclaim to myself in astonishment. I'm reading a freebie paper with my lunch and this is news to me. I pause to take a bite of my sandwich. I assume the article's about an over-zealous religious group disrespecting other faiths and non-believers. What now? Are they going to count the number of times atheists and agnostics mutter god inappropriately? Take to the streets in coloured bibs and fine us for blasphemous language? I chew, churning this thought over. What if it's another kind of god squad altogether? One that's says your number's up. You've aged, you're past it. Swallowing the last piece of crust I ask myself: do I wish to read the full article?

Mind made up, I cradle my mug and resume my reading. As I find my place, I take a sip, promptly spluttering. The sentence I read: 'GOD helps you embrace Growing Old Disgracefully.' My splutter turns into a chortle. That's more my cup of tea I think, marvelling at how brown splashes are now staining my top. Synchronicity! My thoughts made manifest in tea. I read on: 'GOD is an older women's network who come together to have fun, to share experiences and knowledge, to learn from each other and to grow together in a safe and non-judgemental environment.' In a nutshell, their objective is to encourage a positive stance to growing older. It's not a new initiative, GOD began in 1988, but at this moment in time the topic of ageing is scathing.

A blistering topic on the news and yet it has to be said, as a society we take a dim view of ageing. A fact of life to be held off for as long as possible. To age visibly is to go grey, get wrinkles, lose your marbles and your flexibility. You have to appear to accomplish it discreetly. Is this how we justify age discrimination? On a negative perception of ageing? The 'burdensome' label once applied to over 65s is being slowly peeled off like a plaster. The cynical me says this increased empathy is due to more of us seeing ourselves as older. Is a self-centred approach the only way to change behaviour? To alter public opinion?

It might sound cliché, but where does it say people should be judged by their number? Everybody's needs and abilities should be assessed individually, not by class, age, race or gender. Why can't we be free to grow old disgracefully? Age with dignity?