It has been determined that north Norfolk is the place with the oldest average age in the UK, at 48 years and 11 months. A third of its population are over 65.
In fact, as a longtime visitor and hopefully soon to be full-time resident of this fine county, I can tell you it’s even better than that. Everyone here, regardless of when they were born, has a mental age of 48 years and 11 months at least.
Youth has no place here. It took me a while to figure out quite why I fell so quickly and so fully in love with north Norfolk when I first pitched up here 20 years ago – but it’s this. It is built for the middle-aged and, as I was born 35, I have been ready for this almost my whole life. It’s a place of small shops selling good food, local arts and crafts or sensible clothing for the long, flat walks that are, gloriously, the main form of activity on offer. It is slow, confident and peaceful, and anyone who wants to create a fuss or indulge in nonsense is looked at askance and wordlessly invited to fuck off to Ipswich.
It is home.
Dad has just had one side of his body replaced (he’s had no hip joint for two years, so when it finally came time to get it done, a lot of associated stuff had to be rigged around it – stop me if I’m getting too technical for you) and it’s been very difficult. He has not been able to cook for a week.
“What about my birthday?” I said, as Mum blew her whistle and started screaming him through his physiotherapy paces when I went to visit today. “Who’s going to make my roast chicken, per tradition?”
“I’m sorry, pet,” said Dad as Mum bent his leg up past his ear and a light sweat of pain broke across his pale and furrowed brow. “I think you might have to do it. Or – your mother?”
I looked at her. “He’s on a lot of drugs,” she said. “He doesn’t know what he’s saying. Now, squeeze those buttocks!”
She was talking to him, but it’s good advice for us all.
“No, but seriously, Dad,” I said. “You’ve got two weeks. Can you be better by then?”
“I’ll get there,” he said, gritting his teeth against the agony as Mum snapped out her folding rule to ensure leg raises were done to the prescribed height. “I may need someone to lift the bird in and out of the oven, but I can do most of the rest sitting down.”
“And I want bread sauce, remember,” I said as I got up to take my leave of Nurse Ratched and her trembling charge.
“I won’t let you down,” he said, shortly before fainting with pain.
I’ll give it a week before I remind him again. You do have to make allowances for parents after a certain age.
Today a thing occurred that I felt guilty and upset about. There was technically no reason to – it wasn’t my fault, I’d minimised the consequences for everyone, nothing and no one was harmed. But I did, because I often do, and anyone who is wired the same way as me will know whereof I speak. Those who aren’t will be baffled, but honestly: just go about your business, enjoy life, and may God and nature continue to bless you.
Back to me. I was feeling terrible, for no real reason. Normally this scuppers the day, as I must beat myself up for The Thing and for reacting so irrationally to The Thing, and then for other Things in the past as they break open their cages and join the fray.
Today, however, do you know what I did? I bought myself something nice instead. As if I deserved it. I know, right?! I just thought I’d do the opposite of everything my brain, instincts and training were telling me and see what happened.
And what happened was that I felt better. It broke the cycle, stopped me being an utter fool, and got me back on track for the day. I offer this possible aid to all those who understood my first paragraph. Go against everything you stand for. At the very least, you’ll get a nice recycled leather pencil case out of it.
A number of male MPs gamely donned “menopause vests” – heated jackets that simulate the hot flushes that are a common symptom endured by those entering the post-period years – as part of an event to try to raise awareness of the shortage of HRT products in the UK and empathy for the women it affects.
They could not wait to take the vests – “volcanic”, said one – off. My hunt for an explanation of how these weak, mewling creatures ever came to rule the world continues.
My son went to his first party – an end-of-school-year bash – this evening.
As I deposited him at the venue, the door opened and a wave of noise, music and the fug of 11-year-olds’ sweat and spilled soft drinks hit me and I was instantly transported back to all the worst nights of my life.
My poor boy, doomed by his genetic inheritance on both sides, for I did not marry a man any better at youth or life than me, looked in and then at his rapidly retreating mother. “Do I have to?” he said.
“Can you return the in-app purchase with which we bribed you to come?” I asked. “Or is that not how they work?”
“No,” he sighed. He straightened his shoulders and turned back to face his Somme.
“I’ll be in the cafe just round the corner,” I said. “Suffering the torments of the damned with you, but at a safe distance.”
He lasted 20 minutes, which is longer than his father and I managed at all the discos of our childhoods put together. We are very proud.