Jane Gordon, the journalist and novelist, is a good friend of both Grace and myself. She is also a fantastic supporter of our website, Annabel & Grace. So when she approached me to help her with book, How Not To Get Old, I readily agreed. It fitted so well with the ethos behind our website. Grace and I are always encouraging our readers to enjoy their older years, embracing new ideas, learning new skills and generally just keeping old age at bay. We currently have a series of podcasts titled, You’re Never Too Old To……
Jane has, for sometime, called me Belle and together we set off on this quest to find what would really help slow our minds as well as our bodies from ageing. These tasks, chosen by Jane, involved participating in a series of challenges designed to boost our cognitive skills and our physical strength as we grow older.
I was really just her companion, her encouraging cheerleader. There were a few experiments that we did that she might not have seen through to the end except for my insistence that we complete the course – ballroom dancing being one.
I was possibly more determined to master the Cha-Cha as I am a passionate fan of Strictly. Jane believed it was the dancing that I was so enthralled by and yes that was, to a certain extent, the case. However, if I am being totally honest, it was the costumes, the fake tans and the male muscles that captivated me each Saturday evening from Autumn through to Christmas. Jane’s and my experience was not so glamorous – the only shimmering pecs were those of our charming and highly entertaining instructor, Ian Waite (of Strictly fame and glamour). However the results would not have even gained us a 1 on the scoreboard and Craig’s viper like tongue would have had a field day with our American Smooth.
There were many other adventures that I went on with Jane which we did under the umbrella of research for How Not To Get Old. This included a class called ‘Embrace my Orgasm’ which had me squirming with abundant hot flushes – not the menopausal type I hasten to add. Whilst, with dancing, we were the average age, with the latter class we were definitely the oldest. By the end of lesson I felt older than I have ever felt, though definitely enlightened by the newly gained knowledge. It was, to be fair, not new information but the fact that I was discussing it with people who I didn’t know and who were the age of my children, made it a new experience.
Meditation was a more relaxing experience, made even more so by the hypnotic tones of our Zen Buddhist teacher who was more relatable to than our orgasm teacher, being more of our age and not dressed to impress. I have kept up the meditation and would one day like to become completely ‘enlightened’ which may take as long as mastering the American Smooth and its reverse turns with Jane as my male partner.
I was more reluctant to join Jane with recorder lessons. I am never going to be charged with being overly musical. The screeching noise that came out of our recorders was enough to send our dogs running for the hills. Jane was more consistent with her practising and even though she slipped my recorder and book into my suitcase when I left on holiday, I have to admit that my recorder is now languishing at the bottom of the Ionian Seas.
One of the chapters that did not make the How Not To Get Old was our attempt at Paddle Boarding. This is possibly due to the fact that Jane did not make it into the water. Instead she was charged with taking photos of The Page Turner and I gallantly attempting to stand up. Our instructor was impressed with the results and kept telling us how good it was for core strength which to me means, flat tummy, but to medics means an aid to not having life-threating falls as we grow older. However Jane’s attempt at photography, from dry land, fell way short of our achievements on the water. Not one photo was of us and all 50 were of a mother and child paddle boarding. Perhaps Jane should consider a trip to Specsavers.
I have managed to tell you of a few of our adventures and the pitfalls we encountered but at the end of it I can honestly say that whilst it was all a learning curve there are many pastimes that I have now incorporated into my daily life (pre-lockdown) including Yoga, meditation, Fitsteps, Paddle boarding and swimming.
I will leave the full review of How Now To Get Old to The Page Turner. However I hope you get as much enjoyment and knowledge from reading this book as I did partaking of the tasks set by Jane. It is full of scientific facts to back up Jane’s quest to take control of the ageing process. However it is an honest account as it shows how hard it is to embrace all these skills as we grow older but we are not to be put off. As soon as lockdown is over I will be back learning how to master paddle-boarding.
Below is the review for How Not To Get Old that appeared in Saga Magazine this month:
For The Page Turner’s review of How Not To Grow Old click HERE