"The advantage of being eighty years old is that one has many people to love." Jean Renoir
My darling husband turned eighty yesterday. It was a very quiet day with no real celebration - the first of, hopefully a few, is on Sunday - the big family get-together, and I may report on it later, although then again, maybe not. We'll see.
Why Delia? Well she too recently turned 80 and there she is holding up her CBE - alas not an OBE which I had thought it was. CBE - now what could you turn that into - 'Clearly bloody eighty', 'Cheerfully bloody eighty' ... ? Clearly bloody eighty is really not at all appropriate these days is it, because most of the people I know - and that includes Delia - who I don't know but certainly recognise - do not look over eighty. Yes they look old. But eighty? But then that's a matter of perception isn't it? After all I'm almost there myself, and so I regard my contemporaries as not looking old. All my life - and that includes my childhood - my mother and father looked old to me.
David's OBE day was just another day in a life - well two lives because I was there too - yesterday, which when I reflect upon it is very apposite. There he is lifting his glass of Jacob's Creek Reserve bubbly - and no don't mock because it is one of our favourite cheaper bubblies. And also when I think about it, so very David. I made him his favourite quiche - beetroot and smoked trout, but really this was the only recognition of the big day as far as I was concerned. Well I did make him a birthday card - three pages long, shown here. A whole life in a few pictures. You can't do it can you?
When you consider how he spent his day - apart from receiving the numerous good wishes from friends and family - it was indeed a normal day - witness this:
Yes that's how David spent time on his birthday - and so very, very David and an indication, I hope, of how he intends to go on.
I was going to make this a dual birthday post - for Delia as well and I thought this would at least show some deference to the foodie nature of this blog. And that's why her picture is at the top of the page, but once I started to look at Delia turning 80 I realised that she really needed a post to herself or David would be overshadowed - not because she is more special than David, but because lots of people have said a lot of stuff about Delia, and David mostly only has me. So this is just a brief happy birthday to David, with more to come after parties. Plus a few reflections on the OBE (over bloody eighty) thing.
Humans are very time obsessed are they not? Time in every sense of the word I mean. We like to measure things, even those of us who are not very numerate. Numbers are almost as important as words - although I vaguely remember seeing that one remote society somewhere in Africa, doesn't really have any way of counting things. Unimaginable to me.
And one of the main things we count is our age. We are obsessed in different ways according to the stages of our lives with our age. Children count their age in quarter and half years. Every moment is important. They are striving to be older. I'm not sure how long that continues, but by the time we get to 40 we count in decades and mark them as big occasions - sometimes with a sense of despair, or dread - particularly men it seems to me, although that may be just that they make a noise about it, whereas women just quietly despair. Which is ridiculous, because, as David demonstrated yesterday - it's just another day. But perhaps it does give us time to pause and reflect, make resolutions, appreciate what has been and look forward to what is to come.
So happy birthday David - and Delia too.
Here are a few things I found that others, rather more eloquent than I have to say about being eighty - well old anyway.
"The opposite of spare time is, I guess, occupied time. In my case I still don’t know what spare time is because all my time is occupied. It always has been and it is now. It’s occupied by living." Ursula Le Guin at the age of 81 responding to the question "what do you do in your spare time?"
“One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it’s too late.” Picasso (I don't think it was too late for him, so a rather strange thing for him to say.)
“If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power.” Henry Miller
"A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life's morning."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL OF THE WORLD'S OBEs
David with just some of those now very many more people to love.