John Carter’s late life crisis resolved with a rather dashing waistcoat
need your undivided attention this month, because 'Now and Then' is something
of mixed bag. In fact, I’m not exactly
sure where I should begin.
it be with my theory about 'late-life crisis', or with the tale of the snazzy
waistcoat? There is a link, albeit a
tenuous one, but I feel that the waistcoat should come first. And the wedding to which it was worn.
wedding, last month, was a fine affair. In the Priory Church at Dunstable, which is massively important in that,
arguably, it is where the Church of England began. (There, in May, 1533, Archbishop Cranmer
and a bevy of bishops declared that Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of
Aragon was 'null and void', thus seriously upsetting the Pope and kicking off a
whole new religious ball game.)
only had we been invited to the ceremony, but the groom-to-be had asked me to
deliver a 'Secular Reading'. This
turned out to be one of those poems which are sort-of poems, in that nothing
rhymes, but the words are more than prose.
approached the task with some trepidation, as past experiences of this genre
have been slightly stomach-churning – an amalgam of Californian touchy-feely,
flower-power emotions that are to be found in the more esoteric Hallmark
this – 'Why Marriage?' by Dena Acolatse – was not at all cheesy. I needed to work on the rhythm of it, but in
the event it seemed to go down well. As
did the entire wedding, which was unique in that we stayed in the church to eat
sandwiches and wedding cake and quaff Champagne.
At Carole’s suggestion, I had purchased a rather dashing waistcoat to wear with my otherwise unprepossessing grey suit. Not only a waistcoat, but a matching tie and handkerchief – or, rather, a piece of cloth that could be folded into one’s top pocket to look like a handkerchief. Personally, I thought that wearing all three was a bit over the top, but Carole rightly pointed out that weddings are special events and going over the top would be all right.
people commented favourably on my 'look'. And Carole, who knows about such things, said I should consider wearing
a waistcoat more often.
am giving this serious consideration, having found a web site which offers a
selection of similar matching combinations.
I want you to hold that thought while I change gear and consider the idea of a
'late life crisis'. Be patient, there
is a link.
all know about a 'mid-life crisis', when otherwise sensible chaps in their
mid-forties think that life is passing them by and try to recapture something
of their lost youth – or, rather, the lost opportunities from their youth.
manifests itself in the purchase of a sports car, or a hair transplant, or a
brighter set of suits. Or, (all too
often, I fear), having an affair with a younger woman.
this latter subject, I once worked with a married man who was a serial
womaniser. We were of the same age, so
he knew my childhood, like his, had been spent during the war, when toys and
treats were non-existent. His argument
was that his latest young lady was merely compensation for the train set he
never had as a boy.)
I have decided that, as we are living longer, there is time for all of us (and
I include the ladies, too) to have a 'late-life crisis'. I do not recommend plastic surgery, adultery
or buying a Ferrari, but I feel we are entitled to a little something extra to
spice up our September years.
know we travel more than any previous older generation, and learn more from our
travels than we did when younger. At a
stretch you could say that qualifies as a change of lifestyle. But I think we could take things a stage
have your own thoughts, I know. They
may involve getting fitter or slimmer, taking up Amateur Dramatics or Morris
Dancing, learning to play Bridge, paint portraits or collect stamps.
In my case, it will probably be the wearing of snazzy waistcoats (with matching ties), for, though I am in the market for a car, I don’t intend to buy anything sporty for the simple reason that I wouldn’t be able to get in and out of it.
purchase of a de-commissioned London taxi (about which I wrote last November) could have been interpreted as a manifestation
of a late-life crisis, but the reason I did so was because it was easy to enter
have fused vertebrae at the top of my spine, which makes it impossible for me
to duck my head down. It is a result of
something called Ankylosing Spondylitis
– which is a ridiculous name for what my doctor describes as 'Arthritis with
knobs on'. So a snug fitting sports
car is really out of the question. As
for pursuing nubile young ladies, well, the least said about that, the better.
I think I’ll stick to snazzy waistcoats.
do you have in mind?
P.S. As I was completing this essay, I heard of
the death of Andre Previn. He was 89,
but I always thought of him as being much younger because he seemed to live
life to the full – and, you could say, filled it with what many folk would call
my children were very young, they used to recite a piece of doggerel composed
by Spike Milligan.
Andre Previn/Went to Heaven/A little bit too soon.
Peter said: "You’re not quite dead."/"Come back this afternoon."
it ridiculous what the memory insists on retaining, when all sorts of serious
stuff gets forgotten.