There is just no grace in growing older. Both Jack and I found out that we have blood pressure that could be better. Jack’s is probably related to the medication he’s on from the legacy of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer treatment. Exactly – you hear the words ‘cancer treatment’ and you forgive him. His philosophy: I’ll just take the medicine. I’m alive aren’t I?
But for me, I never get sick. I am the smug immortal living in our house. So when I see you I have slightly raised blood pressure, nothing to worry about if you’re reading this Mum, I googled it and at this stage I just probably need to make a few lifestyle changes. Dr Google, you’re my rock. But lifestyle changes! See what I mean about the lack of grace in getting older?
Jack and I come from rave culture youth. The 1990s, when it wasn’t illegal to congregate in large numbers. Of course, I wasn’t the one raving. Jack likes to remind me I missed all the fun. Our contemporaries come from that era too. Not all of them have been able to let that lifestyle go.
We have one friend in particular. No judgement. Drugs are the most insidious thing about being human. They invade most areas of most of our lives. Especially as they become more and more common in society. More and more available. It’s an open secret that Mid-Wales has a burgeoning cocaine problem. It sounds crazy even to say it. The methods of distribution have filtered through the hubs of the market towns and down the train lines. Rural places can’t escape modern reality either.
Meanwhile, Delphine found out about our friend’s secret. She was much more surprised than I thought she’d be. In general, she’s pretty hard to shock. Just a side note – it’s hard to keep secrets in a one-bedroom bungalow, as we hang out together all the time and can’t avoid every adult conversation until 10pm. She was really dwelling on it, to the point I was worried she’d tell this person. We warned her yesterday not to tell. Do you know what she said?
She’s been doing Greek myths in school. In the King Midas myth, the barber finds out about King Midas’s donkey ears. The ears had been given to Midas in punishment for his arrogance. King Midas threatens the barber with death if he tells anyone about his painful secret, but he barber can’t live with his burden, so he decides to go out to the river and dig a hole in the riverbank. ‘I can tell the secret of Midas into the hole, into the ground,’ he says to himself. After he does it, he fills the hole back up, relieved to have finally told his secret. Reeds grow out of the ground where he dug his hole though. They start whispering his secret, telling it to the trees, spreading the words, ‘King Midas has donkey ears’ across the landscape until the people hear it. King Midas is finally outed.
Remember that Delphine is the kid who takes a really long time to write a sentence. Especially one that she’s thought of herself. No disrespect – we work together so I feel this pain too. But when we warned this child not to tell this secret about our friend, she came back a few hours later. She announced, ‘I think I may dig a hole in the ground and tell the secret into it.’ I shook my head at her. Why does getting older feel so graceless? When it is in fact, so full of high-pressured brilliance.