Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Shirley Conran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shirley Conran. Show all posts

Monday, 29 December 2014

Today Is My Birthday (Again)


©Brigitta Huegel

I should come to my senses. (Comment: I learned a long time ago that I might replace the word "should" by "will" - (or more often: will not).
I am. All senses. Enjoying and revelling in them, I mean.
But being finally ready to tell anybody my age? No: I keep my mouth firmly shut.
("Why, for heaven's sake?" you might mutter, "It's not that interesting").
Why indeed?
My mother (as Shirley Conran said: "A mother's place is in the wrong") had a very problematic attitude concerning old people - coming from a family of (minor) aristocrats, marrying a man from the working class she might have had her reasons. I loved my charming, lively grandmother (the one with the red blood). So I grew up in ambiguity. The old people were "Them" - a class of their own, born that way. But my grandma was not old in my eyes. And although I knew I would grow old one day,  in my heart I didn't believe it. (Most people don't for their own person: a research statistic shows that the typical woman feels about 18 years younger than she is).
From very early years on I started to collect what I could find about getting older - especially older women as role models. With fourteen I told my astonished girlfriends  "I look forward to being thirty - then I will be able to wear big hats". It is a metaphor, of course (and I pushed the line of years a bit further) for growing up. I envy the fashion of my mother: it allowed women to grow up proudly, and the advertising motto of „Baldessarini – separates the men from the boys“
should/must be coined for women into "separates the women from the girls".
I am glad that fashion this year started to become a bit more grown-up too:

©Brigitta Huegel

But I look into the media, and what do I see? Scorn of older people, amost hate. And it seems to me that the last taboo beside death is (sex and) old age. A society that defines itself mainly through images is shocked. I really considered founding a group "Anti-Discrimination of Older People" - but I didn't because I do not want to get angry all the time - so unbecoming... So I keep the topic private. (Very :-)
From my Prussian mother I learned to love discipline and 'attitude, poise' (the German word is "Haltung", the English pendant might be "stiff upper lip"). I sincerely and deeply feel with everybody who suffers from pain, and I listen with compassion - but I get unnerved when someone is going on and on about trifles, and many women, growing older, do complain about a lot. (Interesting: those who have really reasons to complain about something as a "new" knee or gastrectomy: they do not complain, they are so brave!)
So it is not a surprise that you find me very often among young(er) people. I love laughter more than champagne. (Come to think of it: give me all three - it's my birthday!)
Though - if they are too young - sometimes I get a bit - bored is the wrong word - languid?
I enjoy the company of my contemporaries very, very much - I see beauty in silver hair and wrinkles of laughter around the eyes; I love wisdom and humour, courage and experience in every form - a life well lived. "Seperates the men from the boys"... :-)

©Brigitta Huegel

(A morsel of wisdom in between: the most important aim is that you nourish them (and of course yourself!) well: body, soul and wit).

©Brigitta Huegel

"How Not to Look Old" is the title of a book by middle-aged Charla Krupp (hahaha - I use the word "middle-aged"in the pejorative way, out of sheer spite :-), who dishes out all the old chestnuts that are not true ("Don't wear colours, don't wear too much eye-make-up, don't wear silk stockings" - and always the verdict: "...it makes you look OLD!" Message: "Buy a burka - then you are no longer a rival to us")
My dear: I do as I please.
I don't botox, I don't use fillers or plastic surgery, I don't colour my hair, and I don't diet.. All that is not a question of morale for me - everybody has to find out her own way of what works for her: to feel good in your skin (and soul) is what counts, and this is my way.
I do it without the witch doctors. I eat well and healthy, I do a lot of moving, in body AND brain. I am curious. Am really interested in people and life.
And I feel very, very fine.
But I won't tell you my age.... in the good company of Oscar Wilde:

One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”

I won't.        As I told you:  I do as I please.             And this is one of the gifts of getting older. 









Thursday, 19 June 2014

Wolf Whistles

Dear You,
how do you feel about wolf whistles?
I ask  because I found this funny passage in the hilarious book of India Knight, 'Mutton. Age before Beauty. Maybe.' The book's heroine, aged 46, walks by a scaffolding with builders - and nothing happens. Not one odd catcall comes. She muses:

"Oh, I know. I spent many decades of my life objecting vigorously to objectification. I could bore for England about the theory. Ew, everyday sexism: the horror. Obviously men shouldn't shout things out at women in the street. It's not nice. But I'll tell you what else I don't find nice either, to be absolutely honest with you: this weird silence. What is wrong with these freaks?" 

I have nothing against wolf whistles. Never had. Take them as a compliment. When I walk past a building site, and they whistle, the pack sits in a pit, or on a high scaffolding. To me it is only a rough way of flirting.
I once told you: I am a flirt and will stay so till I'm a hundred (or more?). I flirt with men, children, cats and even flowers (yes, you can - try it!) It is a very pleasant game, for both sides.
But some women find it upsetting.
For men these times are difficult. In the last decades they get what psychology calls "double-bind messages". Or, reversing my beloved quote from Shirley Conran - "A mother's place is in the wrong" - to "A man's place is in the wrong." Don't misunderstand me, please: I'm speaking of wolf whistles. Bravado. Flirts. Not pawing or violence.
I enjoy it when a man holds a door open for me - I do not cry angrily 'I can do that on my own!' (as I have often seen). I like knights in shining armour. Politeness. (In other parts of life too). Though one can go too far: Today I read that the BBC makes Britain discuss whether one should ask a woman before kissing her. Uh, what??? I think that goes without saying - let alone asking. You feel it. (I hope). What said my driving instructor about entering a dubious turn in the road in high speed? "When in doubt - don't." 
In the blog world there are wolf whistles too. Don't think I put comment moderation up against those. 
No - I have a very persistent "Anonymous", who always sends advertising comments disguised as comments on the post "Arsène Lupin, Raffles and..." 
Now I ask you: Who in his right mind can believe that this will lure me on his website? Anonymous might also easily believe that Little Girls, wearing a Red Riding Hood, will take a woolf for a grandma. (Tom, here might be the appropriate place for a Grandma-axe-pun). 
No, I keep it with James Thurber, who recast the story, ending: 

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.