What’s in a name?

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Well, here it is … the first post on my new blog, This is Sixty.

I pondered for some while over the name. Ensure that your blog name tells people what you are about I was advised, but did I really need that? My aim wasn’t to attract scores of followers or related advertisements (indeed, I paid for an upgrade in order to avoid exactly that).   The fundamental reason for setting it up was as a hobby, a vehicle for my writing, which might cover all manner of subjects….what I like, what I think, what I feel, what I do. I might even post the odd bit of flash fiction, a poem, a recipe. It’s MY blog after all. Self indulgent perhaps, but I wanted a name that captured the essence of ME.  So I pondered for longer…..and then longer still.  I considered, rejected, decided, changed my mind and despaired.  How could it be so difficult?  Then one evening I received a mail from an old school friend inviting me to her 60th birthday party and the train of thought that this set off provided the solution.

I am very fortunate in having a large circle of friends and acquaintances, some older, a few younger, and several whom, during 2016/7 would, like me, celebrate their sixtieth birthdays. I was the first.  Sixty! I could barely believe it then and it still sometimes brings me up short several months on. How on earth did that happen? Where have all those years gone?
“So what’s it like being sixty, then?” a younger friend had asked me shortly after my birthday celebrations.

Well, sixty is certainly different from what it used to be. My earliest memories of my grandmother, Kitty, date from when she would have been only fifty seven or eight. Even then she was an old lady. Her mode of dress at home was, almost without exception, a wrap-around pinafore or pink nylon overall, designed to protect (let’s not mince words here) her decidedly old-lady clothes. She wore flat brown lace-ups, sometimes with ankle socks and I never once saw her in the heels. I’m sure she’d have thought them totally inappropriate for someone her age. I don’t recall ever seeing her wear makeup, not even a smear of lipstick.  Her social life certainly didn’t involve meeting up with girlfriends for a pub lunch (perish the thought) or a spa day.

Sixty in the 1960s was considered pretty old – not ‘the new 40’ or ‘the new 50’ as it is variously described today, not middle-aged (it still isn’t technically speaking, but if we take middle-aged to mean the middle of adulthood, we might just stretch it). Sixty was just OLD. And it was only a decade away from the three score years and ten that was then generally considered to be one’s lot.

But that was then and this is my friends and me now – highlighted hair, always made up, nails painted and clothes that could be just as well worn by someone thirty years younger (provided they had good taste, of course)!  I don’t consider myself at the forefront of musical modernism but take a look at the CDs in my car and you’re just as likely to come across Guns ‘n’ Roses or Springsteen as Mendelssohn or Strauss. Friends of mine now in their seventies are no different.  We might be grandmothers (and in a couple of cases even great-grandmothers) but we go to the gym, lunch with girlfriends, drive our own cars and generally do whatever is reasonable to avoid giving in to our advancing years, (I say ‘reasonable’ because I draw the line at surgery or injecting my forehead with toxins)!

“So what’s it like being sixty then?” my friend had asked.
I pointed to myself and said. “Like this. THIS is sixty.”

I hope you’ll drop by again.