Wednesday, 3 September 2008

When I’m 74 I hope I also have a second teenagehood

My dad’s been a widower for over three years and recently I thought I might hook him up with a gorgeous friend of mine, a Woman of a Certain Age whose husband died after a long illness some time ago. I planned it carefully, down to the last-minute invitation to my dad, determined that neither he nor the widow in question would know that they were being set up (there’s nothing that can sink a prospective romance faster).

So when I phoned my dad a day before the ‘impromptu’ lunch I’d planned, I was a bit put out to discover that he wasn’t available. In fact, he wasn’t even in the near vicinity.

‘I’m on my way to Wilderness,’ he said. ‘Can you hear my iPod? It’s plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter!’

I could, as it happened, loud and clear – it was blasting out Simon & Garfunkel – and it didn’t escape my somewhat envious notice that while my septuagenarian father owns the latest in music technology, the best I can boast is a CD system that sometimes doesn’t stick.

But my cellphone was also picking up a lot of wind interference. ‘Close your window,’ I shouted. ‘I can’t hear you properly.’

He laughed a wicked laugh. ‘That’s not my window,’ he said. ‘It’s the open roof of my new Mercedes coupe.’

Reclaiming my tongue from where it had slid down my throat, I blurted, ‘Please don’t tell me it’s red.’

‘Naah,’ with James Bond nonchalance, ‘it’s silver.’

Well goodness golly me, and there I was trying to make sure my dad wasn’t lonely in his old age.

‘Old age’ is, of course, a relative term. Where my dad’s concerned, it applies hardly at all. Although he’s 74, he still has all his own hair (a veritable silver mane) and teeth, he plays squash regularly, he loves consorting with unsuitable people, he enters with almost indecent enthusiasm into debates on a range of topics from modern-day sexuality to music and technology, he travels extensively (and lectures on a variety of topics on several different worldwide cruise liners), and he's just published a volume of his memoirs, tantalisingly titled ‘The King’s Eye and John Vorster’s Elbow’.

For someone like me, whose hopes for ‘old age’ stretch only to reaching 60 without irrevocably embarrassing my children, declaring bankruptcy or losing control of my bladder, my father is a lesson indeed.

Left: My father in his early 20s in Kenya with a friendly lion called Prince. Romping with Prince, he recalls, was great fun, but alerted him to the fact that he’s allergic to cats after he broke out in lion-sized hives.

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1 comment:

Juno said...

Fantastic picture Mur, and lovely post. My goodness but there is a likeness: now I know where you get your lovely long legs from.