Gotta Love It!

I’m reading “The Sweet Remnants of Summer” by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the 14th in a series and I’ve read them all and have a folder of excerpts I’ve copied from them. Isabel Dalhousie is the protagonist and she is the publisher/editor of a philosophy journal.

So far I have copied out these and I’m only on page 114.

Isabel Dalhousie is having a conversation with Laura on the doorstep of Laura’s house –

Isabel pressed the bell marked Please Pull. She smiled at the Please –a human touch that was being edged out of such instructions. Buttons now simply said Press, which was more in keeping with the straightforward tone of life today. Signs said Walk or Don’t Walk; they never said Please Don’t Walk, which of course had a ring of despair about it: We’ve told you so many times before not to walk..

Isn’t that delightful?

Following close at heel is this conversation which I love because – it’s everything I’ve thought, or said, about getting old, being old, and dying. Whenever someone says they’ve lost someone, meaning the person died, I always think, but never say, “How careless!”

Anyway – the excerpt –

” Old?” prompted Isabel. It was a word that contemporary squeamishness was on the point of retiring, in favour of a euphemism. But what was wrong with old? It was ridiculous to elbow it out of the language in the same way as we were losing the verb to die. We all died, and no amount of suggesting that we passed could protect us from that fact. So, too, did we become old rather than becoming senior or elderly or even fully mature, like cheeses.

Laura appeared relieved that she could speak directly.”Yes, very old. I believe she was close to one hundred.” She paused. ” And proud of it.”

“So she should be,” said Isabel. “When I get to that stage – if I get there – I don’t want anybody telling me I can’t be old. I shall be happy to be described as ancient.” She thought for a moment. “And then when I proceed to die, I shall be most annoyed if anybody says that I am simply passing. Passing where, might one ask? Not everyone believes that we go somewhere when we shrug off this mortal coil.” 

Laura laughed. “There’s an expression for you.”

“Shrugging off this mortal coil?” said Isabel. “Yes, it’s wonderful expression. It suggests a certain relief, doesn’t it? It suggests that one might actually be rather relieved to get away from everything. With one shrug we are free.. And then one might be described as defunct, which is a splendid way of putting it, isn’t it? There’s no arguing with being defunct- that’s it, so to speak.”

That’s just brilliant – defunct instead of dead. Perfect!

And when a person is described as being 85 years (or how many years they are) young, I scream “Old, they are 85 years OLD”.  Hell, for that matter a person is x number of years old regardless of the number of years.

I hope you enjoyed this. I’m off now, back to the book.