Sunday, August 29, 2010

Menopause the Musical!

Menopause the musical! What a wonderfully rollicking, raucous piece of entertainment! A smoothly crafted celebration and commiseration all rolled into one and then framed by songs that take you back to a time when you knew, absolutely, that menopause was something that only happened to other people. Like your mother.
I went along to the musical on Saturday, along with a couple of friends, and it was great fun from beginning to end. Deep and meaningful? No, not particularly. But fun? Hell, yes. We started by getting into the spirit (literally) with a Hot Flash cocktail, which came in a gorgeously vulgar plastic cocktail glass that had a multi-coloured flashing stem. This was quickly followed by the obligatory lining-up-for-the-loo, a traditional custom for females everywhere. And when a significant amount of said females are of a certain age... well, enough said. I'd paid a visit when I first arrived and been vastly amused by the tumbling, pyramid-pile of free sample incontinence pads on the vanity. My initial 'what the hell' was reiterated three-quarters of an hour later when all that remained was a flat scattering of samples. Giving rise to conversations such as the one in front of me:

Lady in her sixties: Hey look, Joyce. D'you want one?

Joyce: Sure! Shall we grab one for Jan too?

Lady: Good idea! (she grabs a handful and then puts on her glasses to read the instructions, nodding sagely every so often). D'you know, I think we should get some for Ally too. Don't you?

Joyce (with an immediate enthusiasm that speaks volumes about Ally's urinary control): Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Personally it would never occur to me to collect free incontinence pads for friends, and I'm not sure what this says about me. Inconsiderate friend? Selfish? Good pelvic floor muscles? Regardless, I pushed incontinence pads to the back of my mind (there's an image), and sallied forth to enjoy myself. And enjoy myself I did. I only wish I could remember all the songs, each of which sent the audience into fits of laughter. One of my favourites was the scene with Only You, where the singer held the microphone like a... well, let's just say that Good Vibrations set the tone.

I didn't identify with all the issues raised but then I didn't expect to. After all menopause, like all things female, varies dramatically from person to person. Plus I would have liked it to end with a really huge, over-the-top empowering song like I am Woman, which really sucks in the camaraderie of the crowd and then sends it back within an embrace (plus I know all the words). Or perhaps something which reflects the fact that so many women say mid-life is a wonderful time, a time of release, of freedom. But then again the musical is about menopause itself, not mid-life, and I'm probably being petty. Because everywhere I looked women were having a wonderful time, laughing uproariously at even the most silly jokes and then, at the end, getting up on stage to dance joyously along with the closing number. Who cares if it's frivolous and simplistic and oh-my-god, men would never consider laughing about their urinary issues. More fool them. Because you would have been hard-pressed to find a woman without a smile on her face as she left the theatre. And that alone makes it a success.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Things I have learnt...

I'm sure I'm not alone in that I hate the supercilious edge offspring get vocally when they show you something on the computer. In fact there's often more edge than... well, non-edge. Each word dripping with so much condescension you could bathe in the damn stuff. All thick and glutinous and highfalutingly how-can-you-not-know-and/or-grasp-this annoying. Which is one of the reasons why I've so enjoyed all the research I've done over the past week, about how the middle-aged brain is actually a thing of awe. Slightly forgetful perhaps, but nevertheless an ever-bubbling concoction of experience and knowledge and skill and competence, all overlaid with the almost-effortless ability to multi-task. In short, our bodies might be slightly slower, and thicker, and saggier - but our damn minds are amazing.

So to honour this, and also as a type of affirmation moving forward (see? topical and political and a little bit witty - that's verbal multi-tasking at work), I thought I'd share a sample of things that I've learnt during the past half-century. So here goes:
  • When those fuddy-duddy types said there was always a price to pay - they were right.
  • Pushy people get further - which makes me a little bitter.
  • Computer keyboards are not as fond of wine as I.
  • Never eat a large bag of liquorice the evening before an important speech (or forum, or workshop - or any event which requires leaving the house the next day).
  • Children don't need to be spanked. Seriously.
  • What goes around doesn't always come around. Worse luck.
  • In 100 years time people are going to look back in disbelief (and/or fury) that we couldn't organise a concerted effort against climate change.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after using a muscle relaxant such as Deep Heat - especially where subsequent use of said hands involves sanitary products.
  • 'Traditional' values are often (not always but often) anti-women.
  • Nothing lasts forever.
  • Middle-aged women are not supposed to have the same size waist as they had as a girl. It's unfortunate, but it's life.
  • Gravity's a bitch.
  • Not everybody is reasonable. Unfortunately.
  • Always put the toilet lid down before throwing fresh toilet rolls into the basket beside it.
  • Beware the overly jealous guy - it's not romantic.
  • Gay marriage is a no-brainer, just like equality for all.
  • And euthanasia. Bloody hell.
  • Anybody who tries to point-score politically off the misery of humanity (i.e. we'll stop the boats) doesn't deserve to have it pay electoral dividends. We're better than that.
  • Life really does change irrevocably once you have children. No matter what you said.
  • Always look on the bright side - assuming that there is one. And if there's not, move away from the shadows. As soon as possible.

Of course there's masses where those come from - after all I've had fifty years to collect them - but I'll show my compassionate side by not boring you with more. And naturally you may not agree with some of them, just like I may not agree with yours. But if there's one thing I've learnt above all else, it's that we'd all be a lot better off if we could, sometimes, just agree to disagree. And keep an open mind so that we never stop learning new things. Even if it involves the computer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Flat as a tack...

A strange thing has happened since I turned fifty... actually several strange things have happened but this particular one involves the government - and the sudden interest they are displaying in my health. Now I've managed to live my first half-century with a sort of need-to-know health ethos, where as long as the bureaucrats don't tell me their health issues, I won't tell them mine. And I thought this was a mutually beneficial arrangement but it seems turning fifty has changed all that. Perhaps I am now High Risk (which is rather ironic given that my lifestyle during my late teens was a hell of a lot more high risk than anything I get up to now). Amongst other missives I have received has been a letter informing me that a bowel testing kit is in the mail (while it may seem less than cost-effective to send a piece of mail informing about another piece of mail - I suppose some things need a little mental preparedness), and another spruiking a free mammogram on offer. This latter was followed, only weeks later, by a rather plaintive note asking why I was ignoring them. So given that I had some unexpected spare time - and my bowel-testing kit had not yet arrived - I did the right thing and made an appointment.
Hmm, how best to describe this experience? Spanish inquisition? Medieval torture chamber? Death by mammary gland? Let's just say that although it was more action than I've had for a while, there was nothing even remotely pleasurable about having one's breast manipulated every which way - and then squished into a fifty-year old pancake. I had right-hand shots, and left-hand shots, and right-angled shots, and left-angled shots, and then - just when I thought things couldn't get any worse - I had nipple profile shots. Four of them. Which seems a tad superfluous but maybe I'm just being bitter. And let me add that I have long had a rather troubled relationship with my boobs anyway. In fact once, about twenty-six years ago, they annoyed me so much I had them reduced. Just to show them who was boss. So this afternoon's show and tell was not even remotely my cup of tea. Proving once more (if proof was needed) that when it comes to the bureaucracy and their freebies - we always end up getting flattened.