Crazy Age by Jane Miller

Crazy Age: Thoughts on Being Old‘Ever since I have inhabited old age, I have looked and listened, mostly in vain, for news of what it is like for others who inhabit it too. Naturally, I’m interested in its well-known depredations, the physical and mental ones that people in their forties and fifties so publicly dread. And who would not delight in the theatrical props of old age – the pills and sticks, the shrieking hearing aids and the tricks for countering the loss of names and threads and glasses. But that’s not all. I have a fond hope that in old age there may be new kinds of time and of pleasure, perhaps even new kinds of vitality, and that, though we forget and muddle and fail to hear things, there may be moments when we truly understand what’s going on for the first time. But then I’ve always been a late developer.’

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  1. hilaryfbbc

     /  May 31, 2012

    There was a small review piece by Joan Bakewell in last weekend’s Guardian (May 26th) which was pretty much a resume of this feature:
    Near the start she says “Jane Miller’s 11 essays unfold into an acceptance of a world which its author finds full of comfort and pleasure, friendships and books.”
    It ends “It is a warm-hearted book, full of the good things age can bring.”
    I think Joan Bakewell read a different book!

  2. michelebbc

     /  May 8, 2012

    Because my memory is not brilliant, I will mention the bits that I can remember that we honed in on: it felt like an autobiography rather than a book about ageing; most of us agreed with (I think) Alan’s original comments about the way Jane Miller comes over as being a bit smug and complacent and not apparently understanding the ageing experience that many folk do have, in relative poverty and isolation; the chapters didn’t stick to the title e.g. Clutter starts off very interesting about physical and mental clutter but then rambles off into literary references that don’t always seem relevant – then at the end of the chapter comes back to de-cluttering with a funny story; we all liked the chapter Dear Mary and thought the descriptions of Alzheimer’s were sympathetic and also noted the story about a homeless man in the Dying chapter as well written. But on the whole we struggled to find much of great relevance – perhaps the author is in a cushy ivory tower of some sort, I certainly didn’t connect much with her. We deplored the culture of youth that we have in the West but didn’t explore alternatives. We also I think mostly concurred with a view that it would have been good to have heard a bit more about how ageing affects relationships in families, the emotional side of it, which was conspicuous by its absence. No male view either – is there an equivalent book written by a grumpy old man perhaps?
    I think Jenny Joseph actually said it all more interestingly in that well known poem ’when I am old’ – I do wear a lot of purple and have a red hat too so I am in training for my own crazy age……..
    So yes we were mostly disappointed, I think it fair to say.
    But I may have misrepresented other people’s views – John seemed to have enjoyed it the most out of the group.


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