All true stewards of nature
Remembering the tragic Tauta plane crash

Yeah, I know I’m getting on, but….

Phil Fitzpatrick recentPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - We’ve only got one pharmacy in Tumby Bay. I believe it’s been in the same family since it began.

The grandfather passed it on to the father and now the father has just passed it on to the daughter.

I was in there the other day collecting some diabetic gear: a box of needles for my disposable syringes; a couple of packets of test strips for my glucose testing gizmo; and my blood pressure tablets.

The young lady who served me went to great lengths to make sure I understood how all this gadgetry worked. At some point in the process I began to feel like a two-year old.

Something similar had happened a few days before. I’d rung up the government dental clinic to make an appointment for my free pensioner clean and check-up.

The lady on the phone carefully explained how to get to the clinic, where to park and what I was to expect at the front door Covid-19 check: how they’d take my temperature; how to use the hand sanitiser; letting me know I’d need to answer questions about whether I’d been anywhere near Victoria in the last two weeks, or had the sniffles.

Again I started to feel like a two-year old.

After the pharmacy visit I went home and checked the mirror.

I’m in the habit of growing a beard every six months or so and then shaving it off when I get bored with it.

I’m still bearded but it doesn’t look much different than in the past. Maybe a few extra white hairs. Nothing else.

I did notice that the backs of my hands are a bit more crinkly and the skin a bit thinner; products of a largely outdoor life.

The hair on my head is all still there, all of it. Maybe a bit thinner and more pepper and salt in colour but essentially unchanged.

My face has a few more wrinkles I suppose, but I haven’t got any extra sunspots or anything like that.

My eyes don’t look particularly bloodshot and my teeth, although tea stained, appear the same.

I don’t need a walking stick and at a pinch I can still touch my toes.

Clearly, however, I’ve reached a point in my appearance where pretty young ladies in pharmacies and dental clinics feel it is necessary to treat me like a child.

I’m not too sure how I feel about that. Their concern is nice I suppose but I’m not yet in the mood for mothering. I guess I’m flattered and offended at the same time.

Despite diabetes, which I’ve had for 50 years, and marginally high blood pressure, I feel as fit and healthy as ever.

I reckon I could walk any of those younger people off their feet if I wanted to.

My next door neighbour however is a different matter. He’s got about 12 years on me and often seeks my help on various matters.

He’s a nice old bloke, a retired farmer who likes to feed scraps to our two cocker spaniels when he thinks I’m not watching.

Explaining stuff to him is a nightmare because he quickly forgets what I’ve told him. He often comes to me with the same problem over and over again.

And it’s no use explaining to his wife because she is equally forgetful.

I thought about that after checking the bathroom mirror. If those nice young ladies think I’m a doddery old bugger what’s to say I’ll remember anything they tell me.

Maybe I’ll go and explain that to them.

That is if I can remember where I put my car keys.


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Bernard Corden

The following link provides access to a duet featuring Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McCarrigle entitled Over the Hill:

The McCarrigle Sisters remain one of my favourite bands.

Daniel Kumbon

It's not a good idea to start counting the white hairs, Phil. Take it as an illusion, a trick of the mind.

Think that you are still that blond young man from the wilds of New Guinea. That man pursued by beautiful women.

Arthur Williams

Read this one back in 2005.

There was a very learned Don from Oxford who was the typical forgetful academic.

He relied very heavily on his wife to do almost everything for him. One day as she helped him on with his gown she surprised him by saying, “Dearest we are moving home today.”

He was amazed and started to splutter about his books etc but she cut his complaints short. “Everything has been taken care of and you’ll have an even bigger study with more shelving than you will ever fill.”

He relaxed a little as she told him the new address and kissed him goodbye.

After a rather hectic day he absent-mindedly returned to his old home only to find it deserted. He could not think of the address of his new dwelling place.

He was standing forlornly on the driveway to the old house when he saw a young lad. He called him over and asked, “Boy do you know where the family who used to live here have gone?”

“Yes, I was sent to fetch you Dad!”

Philip Kai Morre

Most of us seemed to have natural fear of death as we grow older.

Some years ago, a 50 year old man from my village was diagnosed with diabetes. He was send home from the medical ward of Kundiawa hospital awaiting his death.

His name was Lazarus and he loved that name because of biblical name of poor Lazarus.

He looked normal and didn't have any fear of death. He build his own coffin with the assistance of a carpenter and showed us where he will be buried.

He was happy to die knowing that he will be with Lazarus, his namesake. He told us not to cry or feel sad or make funeral feast. He just wanted us to bury him and carry on with our lives.

William Dunlop

Bernard, no doubt about you!.
I'll settle for Yates.
Under Benbula
Cast a cold eye on life, on death.
Horseman pass by.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I spent a lot of time working with Western Desert people Jordan. In the latter part of that period they referred to me as "tjilpi", which is equivalent to "lapun" or "papa". ("papa" in Western desert lingo means dog or dingo).

That was a term of respect based on my age and the knowledge I had of their culture. I rather enjoyed that tag because old men and women in their culture are always accorded the utmost respect.

Sometimes young blokes I encounter around here will say "G'day Tjilpi" and that beats being called "dear" by a shop assistant by miles.

Harry Topham

Chris, I think that old mot, "A rooster one day, a feather duster the next", well sums things up.

Could be worse though. Bumped into an old friend from earlier days when I used to volunteer at the local botanical gardens.

When asked how things were going he replied, "Couldn't be busier. Two days for myself at my doctors, two days a week taking the wife to her doctors, the other day spent at the chemists."

Such is life.

Bernard Corden

Brazilian physician Daruzio Varella estimated that the world invests five times as much in male sexual stimulants and female silicone implants as in finding a cure for Alzheimer's.

He believed that within a few years we will have old women with huge tits and old men with stiff cocks but none of them will remember what they are for.

Eduardo Galeano - Children of the Days

Chips Mackellar

A man's not old when his hair turns grey,
He's not even old when his teeth decay.
But he's well on his way to his last long sleep,
When his mind makes a date which his body can't keep.

Jordan Dean

The shop assistants here will probably call you 'papa' as a sign of respect Phil.

Chris Overland

In our society, unlike that of PNG, being patronised as you get older seems to be very common.

The underlying assumption is that as we age we somehow have become infantilised, incapable of understanding anything unless it is explained in terms that a toddler would understand.

This is almost invariably well meant but is exceedingly irritating nonetheless.

In my working life I led a complex and demanding organisation with 1,500 employees and an annual budget in excess of $150 million.

Despite being retired for many years now, I have not somehow become stupid nor has my intellectually capacity diminished although, like Phil, I am well short of my physical peak.

I resent being called "love" or "dear" by well meaning younger people who think that my grey hair and wrinkles mean that I am an imbecile.

Sadly, I cannot see this changing anytime soon. The stereotype of the silly old duffer dies extremely hard, especially, as Phil observes, because we occasionally do something dumb to justify it.

The fact that younger people do the same or worse stupid things seems to count for nothing.

I intend to get a tee-shirt saying 'Old Guys Rule!' in the hope that someone will understand that I am not being ironic.

In case they think I am, I shall point to the fact that this year's US presidential election race is between 73 year Trump and 77 year old Joe Biden.

Harry Topham

Phil, At least you have kept your sense of humour. Speaking of same, the other day I heard a good anecdote which I thought I would share. It's courtesy of the ABC’s Conversations program where an Australian poet was being interviewed about his life.

A knockabout character who stumbled into poetry by accident found himself in a quandary when late in life was diagnosed with throat cancer.

After undergoing a major operation which left him with a scar that extended from his upper ear down his face then down to his neck.

Recuperating in hospital his doctor advised him to have a shower to prevent infection etc.

Across from his bed was another patient who turned out to be a gaol inmate brought in for medical treatment.

As he left the ward to complete his ablutions he noticed a prisoner warder sitting outside keeping guard on the prisoner.

The guard looked up, startled by confronting the ghastly sight.

Not able to contain himself by the opportunity on offer, the poet then commented to the guard.

"By any chance, you have seen a fellow with a broken bottle go this way?"

Lindsay F Bond

Still joy in your world, Phil, you're not yet in elegy class.

Robin Lillicrapp

Car keys!
You're still driving?

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