NOW, WE ARE SIXTY: Now is the time to have fun!

PITH, WIT AND PLEASURE! EACH MUST BE TEMPERED WITH THE MEREST TOUCH OF MELANCHOLIA, SAYS THE AUTHOR.

CHRISTOPHER MATTHEW

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

HOW WOULD A DOG FEEL?:  HAVING JUST TURNED SIXTY, I WONDER WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO BE AS OLD AS MY PARENTS. WHO WAS I KIDDING. I’LL GO ON AND IMPERSONATE THE DOG! SKETCHES BY DAVID ECCLES.

The film actor Tony Curtis was once asked by the host of an American TV chat show how he would sum up his life.
‘When I was a very young man,’ Curtis said, ‘I arrived in Hollywood without any money, checked into a cheap motel, showered, shaved and then I came here to talk to you.’

Having recently turned sixty, I know just how he feels. One minute I was looking at my parents and their friends and wondering what it would be like to be as old as them; the next thing I knew, I was.

Mind you, in their day sixty-year olds were old. Elderly, certainly, and resigned to a slow, slippered twilight. I, on the other hand, am nothing if not a product of my age, and thus do not feel a second older than I did ten years ago – or even twenty.

Who am I kidding, though? Another ten years and my Biblical quota will be up. Like it or not I have joined the ranks of the zimmer brigade. This collection is by way of marking, if not celebrating, my new-found status.

THE BEST OF THE POEMS

I could have waited for a year or two to ensure a first-hand account of the pleasures and pains of being an oldie, but decided I’d better crack on while the going is good and before someone asks me to show my bus pass.

How best, though, to run the unfamiliar gamut of geriatricity? A vade mecum for the elderly, however liberally laced with jokes, could all too easily decline into a catalogue of whinge and woe.

Pith, wit and pleasure are more the order of the day – tempered with the merest touch of melancholia.

And then it suddenly occurred to me. Here I am, even more baffled by life than when I was a small boy.

I had already purloined A.A.Milne’s title and twisted it to my purpose, so why not pick the best of the poems he wrote for six-year olds and re-write them for sixty-year olds?

So I have.

<< Adapted from the book Now We Are Sixty, first published by John Murray in 1999.

NEXT: MAEVE BINCHY -- ONE OF THE GREAT IRISH WRITERS.


NEW MEN’S CLINIC: Offers the “silent way” to solve his problems

After much carping from doctors and other men’s health professionals over the past thirty years, the problems have started to turn for the best. A new hospital, Waratah Private in Hurstville, NSW, has launched a men’s clinic “as part of its many services”.

“Research shows 86 per cent of men aged older than 65 have a chronic disease,” said the hospital. “One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

The hospital said it “focuses on identifying men’s health problems and they can be treated under the same roof.”

Thirty years ago, Mr X was over 50. He was just one of hundreds of men nationally who remain the “silent” types.

FEAR, SUFFERING

Many men used to go to the bathroom at least three times at night. Without access to a toilet for men with prostate disease it became a nightmare. Literally!

In 1993, the American Medical Association released a report from the Gallup Organisation which showed that men over 50 “often try to tough” their way through fear and suffering without telling their doctors about ‘unmentionable’ medical problems …”

An Australian Men’s Health researcher said this is a “dangerous attitude” and may be equally prevalent in this country where ‘being tough is strongly promoted in men.

For men, these were vexing times. But ahead are the good times; things have changed.–FM


BITS & PIECES

Phar Lap’s career as a four-year-old was even more noteworthy for his age when he won 14 races straight. One of these was the Melbourne Cup in 1930 … The jockey who rode Phar Lap, Jim Pike’s contribution to racing still lingers, a legacy that he passed on through the ages. He was the complete rider. A great hand-and-heel rider, Pike pulled the whip to prove to one and all the horse was beaten. (In a radio interview, jockey Darren Beadman, reveals the “secrets” of Jim Pike) … Phar Lap’s “mystery” death, not long after he won the Aqua Caliente Handicap, to this day, even though there have been a number of inquiries, is still unsolved. – FM.


 

LES MISERABLES:  The characters -- were they real or not?

THE INSURRECTION OF THE 5th AND 6th OF JUNE BRINGS A CLIMAX TO THE MANY THEMES OF LES MISERABLES. 

FRANK MORRIS

LES MISERABLES: THE TYPE OF PEOPLE MENTIONED AS PARTICIPATING IN THE INSURRECTION ARE RECOGNISABLE AS LES MISERABLES CHARACTERS. Below: THE NATIONAL GUARD, SHOWN WITH RIFLES, CAME TO THE INSURGENT’S AID. Below: THE BESIEGERS: THE INSURGENTS BEGAN TO WORRY AS THE BARRICADE WOBBLES DUE TO THE CONSTANT FIRING OF THE ARTILLERY.

Les Miserables, the musical Newsweek claims had audiences overseas leaping to their feet “cheering, applauding and often weeping with emotion”, is soon for Australia, and has not been only the musical sensation of the decade … but of a lifetime.

“Cameron MacKintosh, Les Mis’s London producer and probably the greatest impresario of our time, realised it was the stuff dreams are made as soon as he heard a French recording of the show. Said MacKintosh: “I heard the opening bars and thought: God, this is wonderful.” – A couple of weeks before the show opened in Australia in 1988.

....

The musical production of Les Mirerables closely follows Victor Hugo’s novel. It covers the life of the saintly yet worldly Jean Valjean for over 30 years. Pursued by the law as well as by villains for his wealth; but, nevertheless, he maintains continued assistance to those in need.

He pays in cash for the adoption of little Cosette from her scurrilous guardians, the Thenardiers. And, when years, later Cosette falls in love, he saves her man, Marius, from death. Marius was struck down in a Paris street and lies wounded.

The insurrection of the 5th and 6th of June brings to a climax the many themes of Les Miserables. The people rise against their King and his government; they fight bravely against the troops at the barricades.

The Paris of 1832 is the Paris of Delacroix and Ingres, Balzac and Chateaubriand, Dumas and Berllioz; the year of the birth of Manet and Eiffel.

THE SLAVE TRADE

In 1832, Paris was the Paris of poverty, hunger, suppression and injustice, according to story of Les Miserables. However, each of Victor Hugo’s characters, in spite of such conditions, eventually finds a contentment of his own; even the despised Thenardier, who invested his new wealth in the (growing) slave trade.

Les Miserables follows history closely, particularly so for the events of the people concerned with the insurrection. Next week, you will read brief extracts from the scholarly text of Louis Blanc’s History of Ten Years, written in 1845 and well before Victor Hugo published Les Miserables in 1862.

The types of people mentioned as participating in the insurrection are recognisable as being eventual Les Misearbles characters. The Louis Blanc text also reveals how closely associated with the insurrection was Le National, the Paris newspaper around which this publication is based.

Louis Blanc became a prominent member of the new government, which forced the abdication of Louis Philippe and proclaimed the Second Republic, in 1848.          

<< Rewritten from Cullen Publications Pty Ltd, Edgecliff 2027, Sydney, Australia.

NEXT: Excerpts from History of Ten Years by Louis Blanc dealing with the insurrection of 5th and 6th of June.


PRISON: The last resort …

“The oppression is constant and extreme. Word is passed around to all the prison officers,” said a prisoner.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 30 August 18

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