Growing old gratefully.

In the 14 years since I angrily wrote ‘Age rage’, and even in the nine months since I republished it in July 2020, I seem to have become somewhat more sage. Or else, as some might suspect, reached my dreaded dotage.

Whichever, last Monday I found myself sitting in my folding chair in the shade and savouring a coffee and a smoke while my wife and daughter did some swimming at our favourite Sydney beach, Balmoral.

Or what some more modest or positively prudish readers might perceive, in view of how scantily-clad so many of its crowd of sun, sand and water-worshippers were, as usual, as Bal-immoral.

Though for my part the sight of all the semi-bare bodies against the backdrop of sparkling blue sea and rock-fringed green headlands, plus the sensation of a balmy breeze on my skin, and the delight of seeing my darling girls disporting themselves in the distance, only served to remind me of the bally importance of counting my blessings.

But then, given that the word ‘blessings’ implies the existence of some imaginary benign Being, I thought I’d change that to ‘blissings’.

Blissings so countless that I’d find it virtually impossible to verbalise them all, ranging as they do all the way from still being alive at my age to all the people and pastimes that make my life such a prolonged pleasure.

Blissings for which I feel I should be endlessly grateful, but far too frequently take for granted, or else find that I foolishly forget when confronted by all the bastards who need blasting for making life such a hell rather than heaven or haven on earth for so much of humanity.

Here and now, this minute, the blasteds I have most immediately in mind are the ministers, members and supporters of the current Australyin’ government who are desperately and disgracefully striving to defend the alleged Austrapists in their rank ranks.

All the while, of course, persisting in their metaphorical if not literal rape of everything and everyone in sight, from Australia’s workers, welfare recipients and asylum-seekers to the country’s ever-threatened environment and the world’s dangerously- warming atmosphere.

And then, though a little more distantly, there’s the ever-malignant military that’s murdering people in Myanmar who are so courageously protesting against yet another political coup.

Of course I’d also be hopping-mad about the perennially parlous state of politics in Malaysia, as I was for 12 years as a columnist for Malaysiakini, if only I could possibly comprehend the present foggy, froggy situation there.

 if all else fails to make me forget to look at life on the bright side, there are always such apparently permanent temptations to switch to the blight side, like the criminal Kims of North Korea, the power-crazed potentates of the ‘People’s’ Republic of China, the crooks in Russia’s Kremlin or rather Krimelin, and the religionist ‘Right’ committing its customary wrongs virtually everywhere else.

But here I go, as usual, wasting even more of what should be my golden years by letting myself feel grated-on by grotty people and grubby events instead of gratefully growing old gratefully and gracefully.

Or, as I’d actually prefer, if only I still had the energy and enough partners in partying, emulating the blatantly bisexual old-Hollywood hell-raiser Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968) in her famously self-declared determination to grow old “disgracefully”.

But like Tallulah, I’d mean disgracefully as something like outrageously or even scandalously enjoyably, not despicably and joylessly as such mouldy oldies as the ninety-something despoiler of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, and the slightly younger but equally mendacious and malevolenty Rupert Murdoch seem to be hell-bent on.

Oops! Regretfully, at the very thought of the Mahaters and Merde-ochs of the world, I can feel another bout of old-aged outrage coming on.

So I’d better put an end to this discussion while the going’s still good. Or, in other words, finish it by focusing on how thankful I am to all those family members and friends, and, of course, to you, dear reader, who’ve so generously helped me perform the tricky or better yet geriatricky task of growing old more gratefully, as I fondly hope, than hatefully.

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