Let me explain.
As a person of advancing years (slightly; let’s not go over the top with this) I am experiencing Wells -ian symptoms of fade. I am becoming invisible!
I know this because persons with perfectly good eyesight are starting to miss me altogether. Younger people on pavements try to walk through me; in busy shops, in queues for tickets, or anywhere that is reasonably crowded I find I tend to get overlooked. The person who was standing behind me is suddenly in front and getting served first. I am standing at the counter and the sales assistant on her ‘phone has no idea I am there. It can’t simply be oversight because I am, at six-feet-something and disporting a comfortable amount of upholstery, too large to ignore. So I must accept that progressive translucency is the solution.
Should I take to wearing bandages? Perhaps not yet. I am putting this off because I secretly worry that I will unwrap myself one day and find I have disappeared completely.
I must concede that there are exceptions – people to whom I am very visible indeed. My issue with these gifted souls is – well, a confused image, I suppose. Not that I am anything other than grateful for their attention; no. I am thankful for any kindness, however bestowed, and I understand entirely why they might want me out of their way as quickly as possible. I see that my presence concerns them, especially if I appear a little pink in the face, a little short of breath.
And it is my fault, is it not, if I get caught in an ‘old person’ situation? If I miss the pavement and trip over in the street, or I inadvertently spill my coffee, or my hand seems a trifle shaky?
In a way, I welcome the sympathy these things engender; they only mean it kindly, after all.
In a way.
So why do those caring “Oh!”s; those affectionate “Never mind”s make me feel like a pet spaniel, expecting at any moment to be patted on the head and told to go to my basket? And in heaven’s name why do I so frequently give way to tail-wagging complicity?
I hope these distressing signs of ageing have not visited you yet. But if they have, at least you have the consolation of knowing you are not alone. Outside your window or at your counter we are there, walking or waiting in our hundreds, maybe thousands. You just can’t see us