This is a quick reflective post about age and getting older. (Hark! Is that a new year coming round the corner?)
I just escaped the cold and grey London winter for a weekend in the Canary Islands. Yes, I know I only just got back off holiday, but you try and stop a very generous birthday boy with a few pennies and a penchant for warm weather, i.e. NewMan, from treating his girlfriend, i.e. me.
It was my first time in Gran Canaria and it was everything I had expected it to be; December-defying sunshine and blue skies and an abundance of bad holiday hotel architecture surrounded by both Spanish and African influenced culture, food and driving. What I was somewhat unprepared for were the number of holiday makers of a certain age. I would say in our resort of up to 600 rooms we were the youngest couple by a good 20 years, and the mental population census I took at the airport awaiting our delayed return flight yesterday would confirm this was replicated across the island. And why not?! Where would I rather spend my winters of retirement if I could afford it - in the big freeze of the UK or in the near perfect climate of the Canaries?
It was a novelty sitting by the pool and watching couples help each other in and out of the jacuzzi or working their way through stacks of wordsearch magazines and Jilly Cooper novels. I even smiled fondly as the British couples queued for their day old Daily Mails in the hotel shop. Unlike my previous holidays in a similar resort, instead of under-age Brits necking shots and dancing to Europop crimes against music, the bars were full of men and women calmly sipping their gin cocktails and tapping their toes to the live piano music or show tunes karoke. It was different and it was adorable.
As I have a habit of doing, this all made me think. I started wondering about my own hopes and even dreams for my old age. I don't think I'll be making a bee-line for a sun lounger in Gran Canaria but I do hope that whatever I'm doing and wherever I go, on holiday or otherwise, I am happy. You hear truly awful stories about people grafting hard for decades, retiring and then becoming sick or worse just tragically keeling over within days of first tucking into their retirement funds. I can only hope and pray that this doesn't happen to me.
On the simplest of levels if I am able to find a peaceful place to sit alone and read Daphne Du Maurier and play Angry Birds on my then antiquated iPhone, I'll be happy. But on the other hand I do hope I've got someone by my side to help me get in and out of a jacuzzi in Gran Canaria if required.
This weekend I dared to wonder if this might be NewMan. As we lay by the pool on Saturday I remarked to him how sweet all the old couples were. NewMan turned to me and clasped my hand, squinting in the sunshine. He smiled and said; "Yeah, they are. They'd be even sweeter if they put more clothes on and bent over less. They're putting me off my beer."
Maybe not then. But he'll do for now, or for as long as I have gravity on my side.