The Third Age

It’s been simply ages since I last wrote a blog, and I started writing this particular post many months ago and then abandoned it as it seemed a bit self-indulgent.  However, since that time we have been in Lockdown due to the worldwide spread of the corona virus, Covid 19 and life has got not only bewildering but also on occasion, depressing.  For a while it looked like the silver lining to this crisis would be the realisation that the environment could be saved and protected from the ills of consumerism as it slowly but surely recovered.  Sadly as the restrictions were eased it appears that there has been an almost frenzied return to capitalism, right-wing fascism and unbelievable levels of rubbishing our countryside and wildlife.  In Cornwall as the tourist industry returns slowly, there have been harrowing tales of rudeness and trashing of our environment by seemingly uncaring visitors.  So many people appear to have no qualms about invading others’ personal space especially those who are vulnerable to this virus, and there is nothing but deception, hypocrisy and bluster coming from our so called government.  No wonder it is difficult to view the future with any sense of hope.

This is the very time then to remember that not everyone is uncaring and hateful and that there are good folks out there who are part of community who are doing wondrous things for others.  There are actually more decent folk in the world than the nasty ones – it’s just that the horrible people seem to get more air time thereby seeming to be more prolific.  So, time for some positivity!  🙂

As I reached my late sixties I began to notice how many folk of my generation were beginning to die at age 69.  It was quite marked and I was feeling considerable uneasiness when I too reached that age last year.  It was decided that it would be a good idea to arrange a 70th Birthday Party for me to celebrate having survived that anomaly.

We gave plenty of notice to everyone and asked that instead of buying me a present that they just bring a plate of food and something to drink.  We were holding the party in our local village hall which is not a licensed premises but could hold a large amount of people.  Our guest list was wonderfully diverse and included folk that I work and play alongside, together with locals I know well from the village.  I asked that any musicians to bring instruments so we could have some live music sessions as well as the entertainment I was secretly arranging.

There was a rather wonderful build up to the event as my sister Rosemary came over from Canada to help me celebrate and stayed in the village.  So my 70th birthday dawned with Laetitia presenting me with a truly wonderful and well thought out gift that I will treasure always – and then it was time to pick up Rosemary from the train station.  Barely had she landed than she was whisked off to a restaurant for my birthday dinner treat.  This was an excellent meal at the Godolphin Arms in Marazion.

Finally we let Rosemary go to her bed to catch up from jet lag, and we too had an early night because the next day was not only my party but also St Piran’s Day in Redruth.

Our Obby Oss, Penkevyll has been a regular performer in the St Piran’s Parade through Redruth for many years now – and this year was no exception.  It was great to see my sister thoroughly enjoying herself watching this spectacle and I was in my element joining in the fun.  😀

Following a quick lunch it was all hands to the tiller to prepare the village hall for the party.  That took several hours I can tell you!

Finally everything was prepared and we returned home to get me ready.  I had the full works, hair, make-up (which I rarely wear) and a newly purchased stylish outfit.  When I returned to the hall I was somewhat miffed by being told in no uncertain manner that I must not go into the small hall where all the food and drink was.  Mind you, all became clear when I eventually was allowed through.  What greeted my eyes was the most stunning cake I have ever seen.  Wow!

Isn’t it amazing?

This was made by Sue Exton, a dear friend who together with her husband John helped make my birthday a very special event.

Tia, Sue and Me

Then I was semi-kidnapped by the members of Boekka who insisted that I open their present as I would need it at the party.  I duly unwrapped the parcel and found a beautiful tankard with my name on.  However, when I turned the tankard around I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a wonderfully engraved image of my beloved Penkevyll!  Wow again!  😀

I’m so proud of my tankard and it goes out with me every time I go to a pub!

By this time folk had started to arrive and there was a lot of people to meet and greet.  I was so moved that so many came from near and far.  Also my musician friends arrived so we quickly started to warm up with a few local tunes and the party really began to swing.  There was masses of food and drink and we actually had to bring out another trestle table as there wasn’t enough room in the side hall for all the produce.

Then rather wonderfully my surprise guests to the delight of everyone walked in – Beltane Border Morris.  It was a little surreal for my village friends who had never experienced the like before.  One local said to me that she thought a coach party had arrived when about 20 – 25 dark faced and tattered performers marched through the front door, walked through the hall and out backstage without a word!  😀

I didn’t explain anything and simply waited until they had set up and then introduced them as my special guests who very kindly agreed to perform at my party.  Then the dancing began…

They were electrifying!

For their last piece, the Beltane Fire Dance, I was called forward and presented with their latest CD and then given the slightly scary honour of being placed in the middle of this now famous dance.

My goodness me – that really is a ‘place between the worlds’ that has to be experienced to be appreciated.  An unforgettable occasion!

Then it was time to blow out the candles on my wonderful cake.

I was then treated to an amusing birthday song from Beltane.

Cutting the cake proved to be a mite difficult – hence the ‘Psycho’ pose with the knife!

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my 70th Birthday Party – it was ace!  It was great to play music with Steve, Julie, Mike, Fee and Courtney – and then went on to drum with Beltane when they arrived.  It gladdened my heart to see the village hall full of very diverse folk from all walks of life including our local Rector, all getting on famously with each other, many of whom had never met before – and the only common factor was myself and Tia.

After all the months of planning it all was over very quickly and it seemed like before I knew it, people were making their way home from what later on turned out to be the Party of the Year – as very swiftly following that we entered Lockdown.  Just in time – phew!

Despite what I had requested, I was inundated with presents and cards and I spent the next 24 hours opening them.  I was truly overwhelmed with the lovely gifts and messages.  Some of them were so thoughtfully and lovingly wrought that it brought tears to my eyes.  Some were magical items that I’m not going to photograph so as not to interfere with their energies; but take it from me, they were very skilfully crafted.  There were also umpteen bottles of wine and fizz that we slowly worked our way through over the following weeks – very much appreciated!  🙂

As a fine example of the dedication to detail of some gifts, I will use  the stunningly beautiful shawl that was hand made especially for me.  The making was quite a journey and I have the permission of the multi-talented Linsey Duncan-Pitt to publish the back story.

These inserts were included with the shawl and I only found these later on.

For those of you who are knitters and/or spinners, here is a link that describes in more detail how it was made.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10158339736154548&type=3

All of this plus many more wonderful moments made my 70th Birthday celebrations the best yet.  Which brings me to the question – does reaching the age of 70 feel any different?  I can categorically state Yes!

Basically I recognise clearly that I am stepping over a threshold from adulthood into elderhood.  It’s a bit of a mixture of things really – it certainly focuses the mind when I consider that I might have only 10 – 15 years left to my life – or less.  Realising that anything could just remove you at any time.  I’m fully aware that this could happen at any age, but it takes up space more in the forefront of your mind when you reach your seventies.  However, it really does help develop a deep appreciation of all sorts of things – living in the moment; loving nature, friendship, community, music, grateful for reasonably good health and so on.

Another plus is realising that you don’t care so much about what people think of you.  Things that used to sometimes wound or upset me no longer do so.  I still care about people but I don’t tolerate bad behaviour anymore.  That is a great relief and brings with it a real sense of freedom.

Certainly I have slowed down physically speaking and there are a few things that I can no longer manage that I have learnt to give in gracefully to.  I now enjoy taking my time pottering around rather than trying to do 10 things all at once.  Taking time to smell the roses so to speak.  🙂

So to all those younger people who are secretly dreading growing older – it’s not that bad, in fact it’s got a lot going for it – it all depends on your point of view.

However, having said all that – it’s weird being the same age as old people!  😉

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