5 Brilliant TV Series For The Discerning Middle-Aged Couple

jeshoots-com-606648-unsplashThe old man and I watch a lot of detective series together. It’s the only genre that hits the sweet spot for both of us. For him, there are car chases, guns, and psychopaths  – although, sadly no dragons – and for me, there is typically a decent representation of female characters – albeit, few of them survive to the end. 

I’m not great at suspending belief for the sake of entertainment or indeed following the plot of any storyline with more than a handful of characters, so while I enjoyed Game of Thrones, my decaying brain found the magnitude of the cast and locations very confusing.

Unlike Unforgiven, which is another outstanding British series and almost on a par with the quality of Line Of Duty and Luther – although, I’m not sure that anything can come really close to Idris chasing baddies through the streets of London – which offers some gruesomely believable plotlines, a mesmerizing cast, and seriously pretty, chocolate box locations.

In fact, I only found one very minor flaw with the series. Because, is it just me, or is anyone else seriously amazed by the way that characters ‘called in to help with police inquiries,’ can remember EXACTLY where they were and what they were doing between the hours of 9pm and 12pm on February 3, sixteen years ago?

I mean…I struggle to remember what I was doing last night, and when friends reminisce about some great night we spent together three years ago, I can’t remember a damn thing about it.

Of course, I suppose that if I was a killer, I might remember burying the body of some poor woman in the middle of roadworks on the North Circular. But if not, I’m a little sceptical about being able to remember who was a guest at my party on New Year’s Eve, 2009. On the rare occasions that I feel nostalgic and drag out the family photo albums, sometimes I struggle to remember when the photos were taken, their location, or even which child I’m looking at!

Anyway, for those of you mid-lifers that are struggling to find a tv series that keeps you together and awake beyond 8pm,  Unforgiven is one of the best series we’ve watched over the past few months, and I’ve added a few other suggestions below:

Band Of Brothers – Understandably, there was only one woman in the entire series, (who is taken out by a bomb), but WOW! this is a truly amazing series, on a par with the standard of Saving Private Ryan. Starring a young Damian Lewis, this series will make you seriously think about the true meaning of ‘dark times.’

Unforgiven – Great cast, gritty storylines, and typically in-your-face realism which is what I love about good British detective series. You won’t find any perfectly-manicured cops on this show – they’re all damaged and saddled with personal baggage – but I love the way the characters’ personal relationships are woven into the storylines.

Jack Irish – We’re late to the party on this one, but what’s not to love about the self-deprecating wit and charisma of Guy Pearce? Great twists and turns in this awesome Aussie series.

Killing Eve – I’m a tad reluctant to add this to my list, but I can’t deny that this series was highly entertaining with some strong female characters that keep you on your toes all the way through. Personally, it got a wee bit silly for me towards the end, but that might be my issue with artistic license.

Better Call Saul – I haven’t finished this series yet, but the old man swears by it.

A Postmortem Of Twenty-Five Years Of Marriage

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As we hurtle towards our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary – celebrations and condolences for which are still under negotiation – it seems to me that the timing couldn’t be more perfect for a postmortem of our relationship.

 

I’ll be honest with you, as the product of divorced parents, I never expected our marriage to last, and like many couples in long-term relationships, we have experienced our share of highs and lows. Particularly this year. Living TOGETHER, and working from home TOGETHER, have inevitably created pressure points that at times have pushed us closer to our own re-enactment of the last scene in “The Notebook”.

 

And yet, here we are, still breathing, still together, together forever – words he taunts me with when I’m grumpy – as we morph into the middle-aged stereotypes we always denied we’d become. He is the archetypal grumpy old man who shouts at the television, wears socks with sandals, and feels no guilt about excusing himself from social gatherings. I am the highly-strung, middle-aged other half, secretly more suited to life as Betty Draper, in spite of my feminist idealism. 

 

My father describes our marriage as a life sentence, and sometimes, (as some of you will agree), it feels like it. But although marriage doesn’t get any easier, the ageing process does have a clever way of smoothing over cracks that in the past we might have left exposed. And perhaps, as well, both of us feel like we’ve passed the point of no return in our relationship. The idea of intimacy with anyone else is terrifying, we are comfortable with our silences, and unapologetic about the deterioration in our physical standards.

 

Our marriage has enriched and evolved like a fine wine. Not like those schmaltzy, finger-down-your-throat senior love matches depicted in British movies – usually set in India – no, we are more Jerry and Margo Leadbetter from “The Good Life” or Ethel and Norman Thayer from “On Golden Pond”. We have traded the fireworks for a resigned acceptance of how we should behave at our age, although secretly we keep our swords sharpened.

 

When he is loving life, I hate it. When I’m chill, he’s a stress ball. While he condemns me through his silence, I am a spitting, yapping Rottweiler. While he rarely criticizes me, I prepare a review of him each morning to contemplate throughout his day – although I have noticed some underground attempts to alter that status quo, demonstrating a worm-turning bravery in middle age that he concealed from me as a young man.

 

The other day he accused me of not putting the lid back on the toothpaste.

 

‘What lid?’ I countered, bristling as I frantically racked the wine-addled cells of my brain for a visual of our bathroom vanity and the scrunched up toothpaste tube.

 

This… image1 (1)

 

PETTY – I’m sure you will agree. And yet, pettiness evolves with marriage in the same way that deep love and respect do, and so: his refusal to refill the oats container, the fact that he only empties the recycling box once it has overflowed and the way he asks me what’s for dinner the day before – a cardinal sin in the universally accepted rules of marriage – have all been duly noted, and will be used in retribution, sometime in the future.

 

But he’s my best mate. I know what he’s going to say before he says it; he has steered me through more dark tunnels than I can remember, forcing his sweaty hand into mine exactly when I’ve needed it. He makes me laugh when I am determined not to, and his impression of Miguel Maestre from The Living Room has to be seen to be believed.

 

Admittedly, his close relationship with the dog is bordering on seedy, he has rarely bought me flowers, can’t cook for toffee, and is useless when it comes to DIY. And yet he can put a smile on my face even when storms rage around us.

 

The set of scales has always wavered precariously in our marriage, yet somehow, it always finds its balance in the end.

What To Watch Next? The Viewing Dilemma Faced By Every Middle-Aged Couple

bear-3145874_1920As the final episode of series 3 of The Wire reached its conclusion last night (and if I’m honest, we were no clearer about what the fuck happened during its twelve episodes), the old man and I reached another crisis of epic proportions in our marriage. What to watch next? Because what to watch on tv when you’re middle-aged, intolerant and with almost twenty-five years of marriage under your belt, is an ongoing dilemma.

 

Our parents had it so much easier back in the day. With the choice of Crossroads or Corrie in the UK, and (I imagine) Skippy or The Young Doctors here in Australia, they can’t have experienced the United Nations-style negotiations that we have to go through each time a series ends. Because, somehow, with a gazillion tv shows at our disposal, we still struggle to agree on one.

 

Perhaps, the problem is linked to gender, that is if you accept the premise that our differences are inherently linked to our sexuality, which I don’t. Because, (and without wishing to paint the old man as the Neanderthal male stereotype of Generation X that he is), he does like guns, cars and testosterone-fuelled panting from male protagonists running from creatures, villains, and epidemics, whereas I prefer something more real, more cerebral…and the rare sighting of a penis is a bonus. 

 

Have you noticed that men on tv and in movies are always running? Must be that action gene that we were diddled out of. Or perhaps they never read The Hare and the Tortoise?

 

Anyway…that means that there are few series we can watch together where one of us isn’t checking our phone every few minutes or yawning. Police series seem to be the only genre where there is some vague correlation in our tastes, although there is only so much Wallander or Hinterland I can watch before suicide becomes a more interesting alternative. 

 

We have a list now – yes, the old man has become that fucking anal about this ‘we might as well kill ourselves stage of our lives’ (his words) if they ever stop making Peaky Blinders, Homeland or Billions.  And The Wire sat on our list for a while, mainly because it is set in the eighties and nineties and I don’t like anything old, but also, as the only female protagonist is a lesbian, that dashed all my hopes of seeing a penis. Fortunately, however, one of the lead character’s, Jimmy McNulty, is a bit of a player – because he’s a panting, running MAN – so there is some bare-bum action. Ladies – sadly, we have to take what we can get.

 

Anyway, we couldn’t ignore the reviews of the series, especially as the old man is a real IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes man, and he refuses to turn the tv on for anything less than an 8.5. So, if you’re looking for a polished, gritty police drama that focuses on the drug world in Baltimore, look no further. You will, however, require an interpreter to follow the slang of the young black Americans around which the stories revolve, although we have achieved a level of fluency as we head into series 4 and ight and ya feel me have become commonly-used words/phrases in our household; sadly, to the confusion of the dog, whose sparse vocabulary of twenty words was reached with the word dickhead.

 

So, as you can imagine, neither of us said anything at the closing music last night, but we were both thinking it. What the fuck do we watch now?

 

Any suggestions that meet the above criteria will be gratefully received. There will be bonus points for any penis sightings.

 

 

Help! I Had A Sex Dream About Malcolm Turnbull

I had a sex dream about our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the other night, which was particularly disappointing having forked out twenty dollars that afternoon to ogle see Chris Hemsworth in the latest Thor movie.

 

220px-Malcolm_Turnbull_at_the_Pentagon_2016_croppedFor those of my international readers who don’t follow Australian politics religiously, and haven’t a clue what an understated sex god our Prime Minister is, let’s just say that he is no Justin Trudeau… or Emmanuel Macron, but a fairly conservative-looking, middle-aged man, in his early sixties, with grey-white hair who looks like his days would be better spent on the golf course. ie., not necessarily the man you’d choose to indulge the last strains of your sexual fantasies with.

 

Of course… when it comes to leaders of countries, it could have been so much worse.

 

Anyway, appalled by my infidelity, I turned to Mr Google to see why I could possibly be fantasizing about a multi-millionaire who owns so many vast properties around Sydney that he refuses to live in the small, waterside mansion that is the official Sydney residence of the Australian Prime Minister.

 

‘To have sex with a stranger may symbolize a new you that is emerging due to changes you are going through. The stranger may also indicate you are open to a change or a new opportunity that is underway.’

 

Upon reflection, my dream was as weirdly bizarre and disjointed as the usual dreams I have after a couple of glasses of red and a curry. Although for some reason, our awkward middle-aged tryst took place in the Oval Office at the White House, and while I was trying to remember how to do my “sexy” face and conceal my muffin top into my granny pants, Malcolm kept stopping to take important calls about security. It was pretty frustrating. And then Kurt walked through the room, music blaring, and I did that mom-thing and shouted at him to turn it down.

 

Malcolm is actually sixty-three, a mere decade older than me, and objectively, I would say that he looks relatively fit for his age. It is still interesting though, that on the rare occasion that I re-open the gates of my sub-conscious to “sexual thoughts”, it should be with an older man because I always saw them as, well, “old”, and not as attractive as, say, the son of Odin. You see, sometimes I forget that I, too, am a middle-aged woman and no longer the fantasy of every younger man I meet. And usually I am reminded of this when I go to Aldi and some old geezer – usually in his eighties – takes a second look. Although, in reality, he’s probably checking out the Wednesday and Saturday “specials” on display behind me.

 

I suppose it’s lucky that as we age physically our perceptions of what is attractive change in tandem. Not in all cases, admittedly, but that’s how I assume it’s supposed to work in terms of evolution – the old die out to make way for the next batch of breeders. Fuck knows how all these old men taking younger wives will change the natural order of things.

 

Creepily, and it’s not something I ever thought about before my dream, I do find Malcolm quite attractive and it has nothing to do with his millions in the bank, power or his pad in Point Piper. As for his politics… let’s just say that there would be a lot of post-coital banter on the topic of the Asylum-Seekers.

 

Perhaps my dream is linked to some Freudian return to the protectiveness of a father-figure at this later stage of my life due to the scrambling of my eggs and the depletion of my sex hormones that make me feel under-appreciated. Whatever it was, no curry for me tonight.

 

 

The Link Between Insomnia In Middle Age And The Boomerang Generation

img_6828Biologically-speaking, there is a proven link between sleep problems, peri-menopause, and menopause. It has something to do with the dying noises created by your ovaries, dreams, and looks as they wither, and a lot to do with how much you hate the person sleeping next to you.

However, my own research lists other contributing factors, such as dogs in the bed, snoring and wind issues, anxiety about any fucking noise in the house or street and the nighttime habits of the young adults living in the house.

After a prolonged period of “self-discovery”, Kurt has succumbed to one of the realities of living in a western culture – that cigarettes cost money – and has got himself a job.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! H.a.l.l.e.l.u.j.a!

He is working in the type of music-themed bar, with its eye-blistering pink neon lights, thumping music and an entire menu dedicated to the evolution of the French fry, that you’d expect – in other words, it is the perfect fit for someone with ADHD.

However, he continues to live at home with us in AbouToDie-ville and so by the time he gets off the bus after his shift, it is often 2 or 3 am, a time of the night that correlates nicely with the first twitches of my bladder, the first dog snores, whelps and kicks and the time of the night the old man has usually reached the end of his patience and is planning my murder due to my own snoring issues.

So, the new routine has taken some adjusting to, the light sleepers that we are, still scarred by a really fun night spent at the ER with aforementioned son only last weekend – a story for another time – and the night only two days later when he nearly burnt down the house with the toaster and couldn’t stop the fire alarm.

Last night, he phoned at 2am to say that he had missed the last bus home and needed to get a cab – in other words, would we sub him until payday? It does worry me that Kurt seems to think that the money tree is paying his wages and that there is an endless supply of cash. After an argument back and forth between myself and the old man in bed (he is having his own sleep issues at the moment), we decided to put sleep ahead of good parenting and consistency and gave Kurt the go-ahead. Any parent knows how rational you are at 3am in the morning, although the old man’s new name for me of “Weak McWeak” seems a little harsh.

I have never looked good in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep. I am not one of those women that look naturally beautiful with no makeup. I have never been a morning person and I am certainly not a 3am person. Added to which, my hair is going through its own menopausal, existential crisis at the moment and so after seven hours of tossing and turning it looks like I have been electrocuted at high voltage. I resemble one of those troll dolls we used to have as children, that have probably been discontinued now for their political incorrectness to people with dry hair.

I am also currently trialing a new product for snoring (at the request of the old man), who has threatened me with divorce if I cannot find a remedy – best-case scenario – or he will finally lose control and stab me in the middle of the night in a re-enactment of the shower scene in Psycho. The product is called “Mute”, and is a small plastic contraption that looks rather like an IUD. You fit it into your nostrils and it opens them out to encourage breathing through your nose rather than your mouth. Once in position, it is fairly inconspicuous apart from the fact that your nostrils are unnaturally flared and there is a plastic ring that hangs down – in other words, you look rather like a bull and particularly unattractive, even by my nighttime standards. “Mute” is guaranteed to lessen your snoring as well as the number of times you have sex. So, a win all around.

And so, in my haste to get back to bed asap and complete the four hours of sleep I had calculated in my anxiety that I had left last night – best case scenario – it was somewhat unfortunate for the taxi driver that my deviant hair and plastic nose-ring completely slipped my mind as the lights of his cab lit up my bedroom window and I went down to pay him.

 

 

How Much Do You Drink?

That’s the question that makes you cross your legs in shame in middle-age, similar in awkwardness to when the doctor used to ask you how much you smoked or how often you have sex, or (more pertinent these days) when was your last mammogram? Fact: every smoker lies.

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The ‘walk of shame’ these days is related to how often you go to the pub or the bottle shop in a week because apparently us middle-aged folk (and particularly Generation X) are leading the way in alcoholism. And it’s seriously affecting our health. Even I can’t ignore the stats about the increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease due to alcohol – not to mention the anti-social behavior that goes hand in hand with binge-drinking.

 

However…

 

Don’t you think it’s all a bit over the top? I mean, people have always drunk alcohol – apparently, it’s been around since 2000BC so even Jesus Christ would have gone on a bender at some point – and the Mediterranean diet, which condones drinking at lunchtime and dinnertime, has some of the lowest records for cancer and heart disease.

 

You might be aware if you follow this blog and my Facebook page, that I am a self-medicator of the alcohol kind and medically-speaking I am an alcoholic because I drink most nights of the week. If I moved to Spain, where up to thirty-five units a week is acceptable, I’d be fine – for the sake of humor, let’s ignore that that figure applies to men. Indeed, not only do I self-medicate, I am also medicated to get me through each day. And don’t get me wrong, I have tried other ways to improve my mental outlook – exercising, clothes shopping and binge-eating – yet none of them comes close to a glass of wine at the end of the day.

 

We drinkers are being as shamed as smokers were a decade ago – and I know, because I was one of them, and it was a very black period in my personal history and the only way I got through it was by consoling myself that at least there was still wine.

 

Not anymore. It’s a crime against humanity to drink more than one unit of alcohol a day now – up there with smoking while pregnant, eating red meat or asking your teenager to get a beer from the fridge. ‘Drinking’ has been stigmatized and I thank god that my kids are old enough and wise enough to accept me for what I am without too much judgment.

 

But it’s hard to ignore the criticism when the topic du jour at every social event is how much you drink.

 

And I know many people that have stopped drinking in middle age or cut back because it no longer agrees with their aging cells, and sometimes I do wish I could be one of them. Fortunately, I’m a battler and so when I first began to feel the detrimental side effects of white wine, I  persisted and switched to red in a valiant attempt to make it work.

 

I don’t judge. I don’t have a problem drinking with people that choose not to drink, although it can be hard to deflect the judgment from my husband who now abstains during the week and then binge drinks at the weekend.

 

For the record, I think I drink in moderation. I don’t binge drink and I usually have at least one night off a week – although admittedly, the benefit of those nights can be lost the following night in a celebration of just how great my discipline is.

 

Life is short. And perhaps moderate drinking will make it even shorter, in the same way that sky-diving might, or a poor diet, or stress – which can be nicely combatted by an odd glass or two. We all have our different crosses to bear and different mechanisms for coping and we take risks just by getting into a car each day. For some, drinking helps manage the pain of that weight.

 

I drink ten units a week. *lying*

 

Fairly Standard Share House Behavior

We suspected that the old-fashioned water tank in the new house might prove a problem. With two twenty-somethings that think that fifteen-minute long showers are normal because they are used to a water-on-demand system, it was never going to be an easy task to educate them in the consideration of others. 

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You’re welcome!

 

 

I’ve decided not to think about what they do in there.

 

Hence, the first world luxury of continuous hot water has had had to be scrutinized and reworked and the old man spent last weekend working out the exacting calculations (he divided 250L by 4) for how much showertime each of us is entitled to when you have an archaic tank of hot water.

 

A MAXIMUM of five-minutes, apparently. Easy for him to say when he has no hair to wash but since then he has taken up sentry duty outside the kids’ bathroom with a timer.

 

‘What if I need to do a complete body shave between Winter and Spring?’ NC asked.

 

‘That should be plenty of time,’ he replied smugly, confirming all our suspicions that he knows nothing about women.

 

My shower this morning was three minutes, fifty seconds, so I’m allowed to continue to reside here. Kurt’s was seven minutes, ten seconds, which puts him in the “under warning” category.

 

It is amazing how petty you become when you become middle-aged live in what is effectively a share house. With this new house came another new set of rules, or should I say, ANOTHER set of rules that we impose and hope that Kurt will adhere to.

 

One of them is that their friends are only allowed to visit for up to an hour, then they must go out – our attempt to thwart past “friends dropping by” sessions that have turned into full-blown parties in which our deck has begun to resemble an LA crackhouse. Harsh I know, but needs must if we are not to alienate our new set of neighbors, although the old man was somewhat perturbed this morning when he learned that his meeting with a business associate had been allotted a similar time limit.

 

His project next weekend is to create some sort of alarm system – Walter White-style – for those activities that have to be time-limited. Unfortunately, he is not Walter White so he may simply buy an alarm clock.

 

Other pettinesses that I am confident will fall as quickly to the wayside once we lose the will to live, include:

 

No consumption of food in the bedrooms

Empty water bottles to be refilled and replaced in the fridge

Wet towels to be hung up to dry ie. You do NOT take a clean one each time you take a twenty-minute shower

Dirty plates to be put IN the dishwater

No use of heaters after 1st October

 

We can dream, can’t we?

 

There are also certain custom-made rules, designed specifically for Kurt and his particular brand of foibles and special needs.

 

Inevitably, such tight security has reduced the atmosphere in the house to a war bunker. There are lots of furtive glances, hiding around corners, crumb searches of bedrooms and dobbing in and the Princess has become a carrier Spoodle for messages. Each of us has been forced to employ their own survival tactics. Alliances are yet to be formed.

 

Fairly standard share house behavior, I’d say.