‘She’s well preserved for forty, said this twenty year old child on  the train. I cringed in the seat across the aisle from hers and tried to make myself as small a target as possible; a granny who’s crocheting granny squares, trying to be inconspicuous.   I don’t know why they call them granny squares. I sew mine together to make baby blankets. Today’s grans are well preserved too, for their age. They don’t dye  their hair mauve like their grannies did or wear orthopaedic shoes or shawls unless of course they’re making a fashion statement. If they crochet it’s only because crocheting is a dying art and someone has to keep up the tradition. If their children had shown a flicker of interest, or their grand children, the grans could have passed the needles on and retired.

The child  and her fresh faced crowd of friends were dressed to the nines as we used to say in the olden days. Race week has come round again and the fascinators are out of mothballs and perched precariously on  the heads of children playing dress-up. It’s a mystery to me why these frothy but useless concoctions are called fascinators. There’s not enough material in them to fascinate or cover a gnat and of course now that we know about UV rays and how damaging they are we (they) wear hats once a year that provide no protection from the noonday sun.

I looked across to my left trying not to make eye contact and noticed that the child has defaced her peaches and cream skin with a long stemmed rose that trails down her back. She was wearing what we olds used to call a black lacy petticoat and the obligatory black tulle fascinator. She looked beautiful, but  everything looks beautiful on the young. I remember posing in front of the mirror once and wishing I had the nerve to wear my petticoat as an outside garment. She looked so happy this young thing, unaware that her well preserved future was staring at her from across the aisle, minus the red, red rose. I couldn’t blame her for her confident belief in her immortality and eternal youth or begrudge her her turn.

When I was fifteen my friend and I agreed that her twenty year old neighbour shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without her make up. We weren’t being cruel just incapable of imagining that her todays would turn into our tomorrows.  My five year old grandson thinks his fifteen year old cousin is an adult and that everyone over ten is old to him.

In nineteen twenty five and nineteen twenty six respectively, Tamara Tsereteli and Alexander Vertinsky sang ‘those were the days my friend;we thought they’d never end.’ in Russian, In the sixties it was Charles Aznavour with me providing the harmony (in English.)  I put my squares back in my bag and leave the train humming. I still have some days left to enjoy.

14 thoughts on “Those were the days

  1. But on the other hand, I have found that being old I am now invisible which means now I can wear what I like and is comfortable, and not worry about what others think. There are joys to be had in our older days 🙂

    • That thought is good as far as it goes, Melissa, but as a Grandma, I’ve discovered that when you’re with your grandchildren you share in the golden glow that is youth and stop being invisible. So, enjoy your tracky dacks while you can. ::)

  2. Ah, yes, having just had a birthday I spent some time wondering how I ever reached this age. But as my stepdad says every time I complain about having another birthday, “It’s better than the alternative.'”

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  3. Time has a way of bringing us full circle, doesn’t it? It took me a while to understand the old French saying: “If youth only knew. If age only could.” I’m still a bit in-between, although more often realizing I “know” more and “can” less!

    • I like your French saying better than youth is wasted on the young. In the end, what both mean is that no one wants the benefit of our experience. Perhaps it’s as it should be.

  4. I adore this post and I identify with your crocheting and your reminiscing while people watching on the train.

    Fresh faced young women are fascinators themselves, who don`t need to don one, but then I`ve always been a hat loving woman. If I were young again I`d likely be wearing one too.

    I recall the song and found it on youtube.

    Mary Hopkin Those were the days

    • Just as well you can’t tell that I’m blushing, TT. Such a nice comment. Thank you. I remember Miriam Hopkins too, but around that time my French friend introduced me to Charles Aznavour. I was doing a bit of spring cleaning recently and came across a fascinating but hatless fresh faced woman. Even I couldn’t believe that used to be me, or that I was ever that young.

  5. When I see the young daughters of my friends —so fresh and bright in their 20’s, I want to hug them and tell them to take a lot of joy in their long limbs and perfect skin!! They don’t know how beautiful they are.

    • Know how you feel, Rhonda, I’m always telling my granddaughters how gorgeous they are, but they think I’m biased (possibly a bit crazy). Well, I am. 🙂

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