Wexford People

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Prime time is my time and my time is right now, whatever age I may be

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David Medcalf

David Medcalf

David Medcalf

Connie was in glum form the other day.

She arrived at work without the customary sparkle in her eye while lacking the usual spring in her step. And she spoke wistfully of being past her prime.

Connie is a mother of four, aged in her thirties, with a responsible job and a wide circle of friends. She appears to be in good physical health as far as a casual acquaintance may judge.

It emerged that the downbeat mood of wistful pessimism was induced by the presence of mice in the attic and the reluctance of her younger daughter to eat the corned beef sandwiches in her school lunch box.

Such minor triggers, along with the requirement to labour indoors on the finest day of the year so far, combined to sour her outlook on life and tint everything around her a shabby, lustreless grey.

Attempts by well meaning colleagues to jolly her out of joylessness made little or no impression on one who had pulled the weight of the world down on her own shoulders.

We who told Connie that we looked at her and beheld an Amazon at the peak of her she-warrior powers were rewarded with nothing more than bleak looks.

She was past her prime and that was that. She could reach no other conclusion. Her partying was over. Her running days were done. Her auto pilot was set for a long, slow glide, inevitably losing altitude on course for a bed in the nursing home followed by a plot in Our Town cemetery.

Past her prime. The phrase rankled as I pondered the proposition from the viewpoint of someone almost twice Connie's age, for I consider myself in my prime while setting out on my seventh decade.

Perhaps Connie could consider the proposition that we are always in our prime, no matter what our age, so long as we retain some vestige of our wits and some control of our bladders.

The children making mud pies (do First World children still make mud pies?) never feel that they are anything but in their prime as they explore their own imaginations with unfettered wonder.

The teenagers who spend so much time texting or messaging are ground-breaking pioneers in the world of language, leaving their grammar-bound elders foundering.

People in their twenties sprint their fastest and revel in their own good looks while those in their thirties and forties have so much to offer to both young and old.

In fifties and sixties we have the maturity to realise when we are enjoying ourselves, a valuable gift which often passes by those who do not have sufficient mileage clocked up.

The twilight years offer no physical prime but, for those who retain wellbeing, there is the compensation of watching the world from viewpoint enhanced by the wisdom of past experience.

She may have hit a couple of minor bumps on the road but Connie surely has much to look forward to as she approaches the half way mark in her stay on this earth with undiminished powers.

Besides, the hardware shop offers a choice of very reasonably priced mouse-traps and if her child refuses corned beef then perhaps she will take to peanut butter instead.

Her mother may take pride in being able to prepare the packed lunches, book her husband's NCT test and correct her son's maths homework, all before setting off for a day's work.

Such a high level of productivity suggests that she is in fine fettle and far from dwindling, though she may have a little less time to herself than she used to have.

Of course, it did not occur to me to say any of this to my down-in-the-dumps pal at the time. Instead, I passed on a joke which young Persephone told to me with a frank warning that it was the worst attempt at humour ever.

Question: 'What is the difference between a tuna and a piano?'

Answer: 'You can tuna piano but you cannot piano a tuna.'

She may be past her prime but Connie can still roll her eyes and raise the occasional smile, despite herself.

Wexford People