BY CHARMIAN HUGHES
When I was 10 I never really noticed middle-aged people, unless they were the Joy Interrupters like mothers or teachers. They were irrelevant, past it, boring. They didn’t even realise how they embarrassed themselves with their mutating jellyfish bodies and dress sense. They actually thought they looked OK.
On the wet London bus, they came into focus – dismal under rain hats and heavy shopping; stupid red hopeful faces thinking this was acceptable. When they got home they would mate with each other like the tortoises on Blue Peter. They knew nothing about Pony Poetry. I would never be like them.
When you are 10 you have all the right dreams. You are perfect in mind and spirit. But you have no power. All the stupid middle-aged people have the power, and they use it to stop you achieving your Higher Self, be it a gymkhana champion or a Gauloises smoking supremo.
They didn’t even use their power to do good things for themselves like drive sports cars or live in houses with bare floors and no furniture so they could run about a bit. Why did they make life so miserable for themselves? Why have carpets if you fuss about spillages? Why have china if chipping it makes you cry?
I promised myself that If I was condemned to walk the earth beyond the grace of youth, I would never see the other side of seven stone and would dress entirely in stirruped trousers. I’d live on a mountain with my rescue pony, only coming down to collect a knapsack of sandwiches from my penitent, neglectful mother.
Now in my 60th decade, I am nothing like that. Once I got adult independence, I didn’t use it to get a pony, or to self-publish my pony poems. I have way too much furniture and wear frocks. I weigh more than seven stone and I mated with a man. My 10-year-old self would feel appalled and betrayed.
But I am not going to let 10-year-old me lecture current me on broken dreams, or my choice of dress (currently some reconstructed kitchen curtains). Grow up. Get a grip. You’re not idealistic but small-minded. And your sexuality is so abashed that it only expresses itself in dreams about centaurs. Your highest hope to run an animal sanctuary.
It’s not your fault. Society shares your attitude. Youth is best and has all the interesting things to say. If you could see me now, 10-year-old self, you’d die of shame. I stand on stage spilling out my ancient, messy life so people can laugh at it. Isn’t that the worst thing you could imagine – being laughed at?
And I could have bought that pony, but I got a Skoda.
Charmian Hughes: Soixante Mirth is at Stand 3 & 4, Aug 2-27 (not 14)