Thursday, October 11, 2007

On my so-called youth

I had training today at work, but as it was the last day before my holiday, I felt slow and tired; unwilling to learn. The woman who was in charge sat next to me, and directed my hand to move the mouse hither and thither, pressing icons of ticks and crosses, tapping in mysterious acronyms, and waiting aeons as I struggled to identify the asterix key on the keyboard ("above the nine; no, the OTHER nine"). At one point, as I faltered in locating the 'save' button on the desktop, she joshed with my fellow trainee that as the 'save' button looked like a floppy disc, it was probably 'before my time' and I 'wouldn't recognise it'. This puzzled me greatly, as in fact I saved all of my university essays on discs back in the late 90s, and she was probably no more than five or six years older than me herself. Why didn't she recognise me as being virtually her peer? I was disconcerted, and wanted to say 'I'm nearly thirty you know'.

A memory from school came back to me earlier, of reading Anita Desai's 'Village by the Sea' in an English lesson when I was about ten, sitting on a rickety wooden chair which overlooked the car park at my private school in Fareham, Hampshire. It was before I'd grown up, before I'd left home, before I'd found any independence, had my heart broken, or lost my Dad. And yet, remembering back to that moment in the classroom, as we all held our identical hardback copies of the novel, I knew that nothing essential about me had changed. I can remember how I felt back then, and it's so little different to how I feel now, a full twenty years on, that it's quite shocking. Perhaps this is what ageing is like - you feel the same age; the same person, the whole way through, and it's other people's perceptions that either lag behind, keep up, or race ahead of you. I don't mind if people think I'm younger than I am, but at the same time I find it rather strange. If somehow I look young, or appear younger than I am, rest assured that in my head, I am at least a thousand, and counting.