Suggestion 1. Outdoor music events.
The old man and I are road testing things we can do together once we’re REALLY wrinkly and completely fucking bored of each other. We’ve decided that watching back to back episodes of American tv series that we missed the first time around may not sustain our interest in each other by then.
We do have napping, drinking wine and taking the piss out of each to fall back on, but both of us agree that an odd trip out of the retirement village may provide some light entertainment from moaning with our fellow wrinklies.
So, last night we trialed an outdoor music event.
I’d love to lie to you and pretend it was a really hip festival, with lots of cool people that look like Kate Moss, hanging around in their trendy wellies and smoking joints, but it was actually a Twilight at Taronga summer concert featuring a Cat Stevens tribute band.
In other words – very civilised. There were even toilets with toilet paper.
Morning Has Broken is probably my first memory of going into church at a primary school selected by my parents to provide me with some guidance in terms of religion, as I obviously wasn’t getting any at home. So Cat Stevens holds a special place in my heart.
I also love the story of his rise to fame and metamorphosis into Yusuf Islam. Islam has had a bad press and I am the last person to discuss the merits of different religions, but I have always been intrigued by them. I am open-minded enough to believe that even though some of their more extreme beliefs may appear unacceptable to those of us on the outside, there are many appealing aspects to those religions that offer a sense of community and security to their believers.
I like the idea of living in moderation too and giving up material wealth for a simpler life that focuses on people being equal in wealth and stature – once I can give up the shoes, handbags and wine, I’m right there. You have to admire someone like Cat Stevens who can walk away from fame, the use of his talents and material gain for something much ‘more’ organic.
The start of our evening, however, did not bode well when it began to pour with rain an hour before we left and I might have behaved like a bit of a prima donna in response. You see, it had taken a painful number of sexual favours for me to persuade the old man to give up Breaking Bad for a picnic in the rain. And as the black clouds and thunder began to roll in over the house and the kids began to wind me up with google maps of frenzied cloud movement over Mosman, I could sense his disbelief that we were still going.
But we soldiered on and went prepared (as Brown Owl taught me so many years ago), and as only Brits who have been peed on by rain for more days than they care to remember, can.
Fortunately just before we left the house, God or Allah took pity on us and the rain suddenly stopped and I found that I could breathe again, and packed the last pieces of my carefully crafted gourmet hamper in my Woollies cool bag (because I’m dead classy like that) and we set off.
We found a spot in between the bar and the toilets and as far away as possible from the nearest child under the age of ten – the three main requisites for a successful evening these days – and the evening began to look up. And to my surprise I noted that we weren’t the youngest at the event either. There were lots of young families, who obviously limited with what they can do with their spawn on a Saturday night without having to pay their annual salary to a babysitter, had decided that a picnic, alcohol and live music are a great way to drown out squabbles and tantrums.
The mid-lifers were reassuringly in abundance too, all seeking ‘the secret to life after life’ like us, and who were just as keen to road test their new beach chairs with added lumbar support sold at a local shop that likes to take advantage of the older generations.
And it was a very pleasant evening.
The atmosphere was relaxed, the sparkling wine slipped easily down the throat and my gourmet picnic of chips, a slab of duck and orange pate and French bread followed by an equally calorific slab of chocolate was effortless.
Getting out of a beach chair after two hours of quaffing wine becomes more and more tricky when you’re middle-aged, and having to drag a dead leg all the way up a long hill to the car park when you need to pee is particularly unpleasant.
But one of the highlights of the evening for the old man was that we were back in our safety zone by 10pm, and ready to watch the next instalment of Breaking Bad with a comforting Baileys.