Help! I'm in a Category...

Tuesday, May 5th

Me on my birthday, last year

I’ve just had an email from Saga about how the pandemic relates to insurance issues! Just another reminder that I am in a ‘category’ of people singled out for special mention because they are beyond a particular age. Today I will also be getting reminders from family and friends that it is my birthday (no cards necessary!). Not that I am trying to forget, but I am trying to accept the fact that because I was born more than seventy years ago, I’ve got to behave myself and stay in!

I always thought that once you were that old, you didn’t need to behave yourself anymore. It’s certainly been my excuse for some years now. Still, here I am, sitting comfortable in the conservatory I built myself some four years ago and listening for the post to drop onto the floor of the porch I built just two years ago. I’m not boasting (honest), I’m just thinking: 'how did I end up sitting here waiting for my first elevenses at 9.30 when I am fit enough to be out there helping those less well than I am to access food shopping, medicines and being generally useful?' It doesn't feel right.

It is a fact that there are other, younger people than me, who are more ‘at risk’ than I am. That said, I get it that if you don’t draw some lines somewhere, everyone will take matters into their own hands and we’ll end up with even more crazy people lighting barbecues on top of Malham Cove on an escape to the countryside. So, I’ll do as I’m told.

But the frustration I feel does help me to remember not to compartmentalise people myself – or stereotype them because of their age, or appearance, or gender, or accent, or some personal prejudice. Even at my age, I must still be passionate in calling for young people’s voices to be heard on issues like climate change – despite their lack of years. I hope I never stop feeling angry about the repression of Palestinians by the Israeli Government, even if some will mistakenly see me as Anti-Semitic. I will always fight for a basic minimum income for all families, regardless of the label ‘leftie’ which it will earn me.

Does all this mean I have achieved ‘grumpy old man’ status? Or does it mean that I haven’t lost my basic humanity and the golden rule of Christianity – love God, and your neighbour as yourself? Probably both – hey, ho...

Well, that was rather indulgent of me. Sorry. I’ll put my proverbial pen down now, go and make our hot chocolate for first elevenses and look out of the conservatory window at some of the flowers in the garden. Lucky me.


Mother, Father God,

Forgive us for the prejudice we may hold towards certain people,

Forgive us if we are intolerant of those of other faith, political or philosophical persuasions,

Forgive us if we put people into categories based on their gender, race or age,

Forgive us if we even try to put you in a box,

Lord, have mercy,


But before you go -

here's a little challenge for you as my birthday treat to you.

Below is a link to a gallery of all the flowers, shrubs and trees in our garden which are in flower today, orin the case of the trees - in leaf.

There are 30 in all, some of which are two with different aspects or different types of the same trees. One is called a 'Lord Lambourne'. Really!

See how many you can identify. If anyone asks, I'll post the answers on the gallery page. Enjoy.

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