Getting older was never a thing that occured to me to worry about. Let's be frank here, I never expected it to be an issue.....
If some reason it did ever cross my mind I then I'd think it might be rather fun. From what I've seen one's autumnal years are filled with a whole host of opportunities for mischief. There's endless scope for frightening small children; getting too close and shouting at them v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y as if they were deaf or hard of uderstanding, poking them with bony, liver spotted fingers, or demanding to know if they've seen your glasses when you are quite clearly wearing them. For engaging very busy looking business people in futile conversation on street corners, or chatting to the ticket sales person at the local train station about train times on a Wednesday afternoon three months hence of a service to Belgium out of Waterloo, while a queue of rush- hour suits mewl and tap dance behind me. I might wear a hat. Or better still wear a hat and drive. And I will certainly purchase a pair of fawn trousers to which I will add a damp stain to the crotch for when I travel on the bus. I will purchase a bottle of "eau de urine", I've never actually spotted it in a shop, but I'm sure it exists.
One thing I shall not be doing is eating "convenience" food.
I like to cook, in fact I thoroughly enjoy it. The very act of preparing something that I will find good to eat is relaxing and fulfilling. There's a sense of anticipation, and a glass of wine, maybe a few olives, and some music all add to the occasion...because that's how I feel about it, that dinner, even dinner alone on a weekday evening, if provided with a soupcon of tlc, should be a small but worthwhile occasion.
Conversely sometimes I just can't be arsed.
When the washing needs hanging and the dog's are wet through after a walk in the rain, or the bed needs changing, it's open the bills day, or I've just had a particularly long day at work - then I succumb to the celophane wrapped allure of something from the chiller cabinet. Something bland but microwavable, warm and quick.
Well, that's the theory anyway. The reality is that convience food is anything but convenient. After I've pierced the cellophane cover on my "pasta a la slop", it goes into the microwave for 4 minutes. I'm instructed to stir it at this point, and then return to the microwave it for a further 2 minutes. I'm not instructed to remove the lid so stirring seems to be out of the question, unless I'm supposed to stir it with a toothpick through one of the tiny perforations - so I shake it instead. It's hot, so I yelp and drop it onto the kitchen floor. Still, that seems to have done the trick, the contents have certainly been rearranged. When I turn my meal the right way up only a tiny amount of the liquid has escaped and I can see that some of the caramalised edges are now in the middle - good enough. During it's second spell in the microwave I open my packet of 'ready prepared' caesar salad...in order to prepare it. There's a knack to these bags, a knack that I don't possess. I pinch two folds of bag on either side of the serrated top and pull, gently at first and then with more force - it splits unexpectedly an inch to the left of the seam, all the way down to the bottom spilling my lettuce and a smaller bag of croutons on the floor. I step back looking for the croutons and find them - with my foot, they're actually quite large and very sharp, it's like finding a 3 - pin plug in a stockinged foot. My lettuce is now hairy and I find a colander to wash it. In the meantime the microwave has gone "bing"so my pasta must be fully cremated by now.
There's another, separate sachet of caesar sauce, with an indent where I am supposed to tear. Do they think I'm stupid, naive in the way of the sauce sachet? I approach it with scissors and take off the corner with a satisfying snip, and then as I squeeze it over the lettuce and croutons the indent gives way in any case, covering my thumb in white, sticky sauce as if I had taken a time out to masturbate before opening the wine.
My meal is fused to the inside of the carton. There's a tiny flap on the cellophane lid which, presumably, I am to use to tear it off. The carton is too hot too hold so I place it down on the counter and scald two fingers trying to grasp the tiny lip on lid - eventually, bored with the whole thing I simply slash at it with a knife and pour the contents into a bowl I should have warmed while I was distracted by the enchantment of arielly inclined lettuce.
I did eventually sit down with a glass of wine, hunk of bread, hairy caesar salad and a bowl of rapidly cooling pasta gloop with added fragments of cellophane. I enjoyed the bread.
So my question is: What will happen when I get older. Will I have to prepare every single meal from it's basic ingredients, or eat out every day of my life? Actually scrub that, it's more wide ranging than just food. So, so many packets and packages of household goods seem to be deigned with scant regard to the end user. My fingers are not in the best shape I know, but god forefend an elderly person faced with a "resealable" bag of dog biscuits. "Pull tab tear here" my arse, what with - a pair of pliers? "Reseal by pressing and running fingers along red line", not in a month of Sundays!! I've buggered it completely already trying to open it. Or something as simple as pulling open the ring pull on a can of beans, the instruction should say, "flip up ring and pull, and then bleed into contents".
Somebody, somewhere is obviously charged with the responsibility of designing these packages, and one might have thought their brief would include terms like "ergonomic", "ease of use" and "user friendly". Are they impish, derelict or just simply divorced from the real world? I'm beginning to think that they sit in offices, where they are fed, toileted and put into bed at night - to lead gay, playful and creative lives free of the clutter of any preconceptions about how their products will actually be used. Certainly none of them have grandparents.
If there is a hell then I hope that there is a room full of starving packaging designers and shelves upon shelves of beautiful fresh food - they wouldn't have a f#cking clue.....