Ten Reasons I Know I’m Getting Old

  • I’m ten times, make that a hundred times, more likely to wake up, wired, at four am than go to bed, knackered, at four am.
  • Everything that happens, not only in my personal life but also in
    old age

    Poster for Picasso exhibition, Boca Museum of Art

    international affairs, seems to have happened before, even though people run around screaming that this is totally new, whatever it is. Okay, maybe ‘casual orgasms’ (over clothes) among groups of women at a sex-positive sleepover is something of a new thing, at least to me, though for all I know it was old hat in Ancient Rome.

  • I’ve never caught an Uber. I don’t have an Uber story about an inappropriate and / or excessively dangerous Uber driver to tell at a dinner party.
  • I can’t get on board the latest hip intellectual theories. Privilege theory, or race theory, or whatever it is called is just as much of a trend as post-modernism was before it, and Marxism before that. Theories come and go. They frequently gloss over more than they explain; they disregard or flatten individual circumstances and experiences in an attempt to explain it all. Anyway, if we’re going to talk about privilege, then one obvious way to be privileged is to be a human being, because you stand very little chance of being raised in a tiny crate and enthusiastically gulped down by other creatures, unlike, say, a pig.
  • I like a good sit-down.
  • The people in my gym class are much more likely to discuss a frozen shoulder than their record-breaking half-marathon time.
  • I don’t do self-destructing social media apps – and we all know why that content self-destructs! – like Snapchat. I do Facebook, the home of brags and humble-brags, kittens and babies, and political conspiracy theories.
  • I’ve never been on a Tinder date. I have to admit that I did do some online dating on Yid (Your Ideal Date) – I think it was the only site available in Cape Town – in the late 1990s. All I remember about the one man I met was that we had long and earnest discussion about his poodle, which I never met.
  • Past boyfriends have collapsed into a kind of mulch. Who did I stand outside screaming at in the rain?  Who was it exactly that I vomited on? Why did it matter so much?
  • I fear the young.



Sweet little lies

  • One of the biggest (and most shameful) lies I ever told happened when I was six. I was in kindergarten in Georgia, USA. The teacher, who knew I was from ‘Africa’, asked me what pets I had there. I said I had a lion. She asked me its name and I stumbled at this point. It had been an off-the-cuff lie, hence hard to maintain.  I had a strong sense of both trying to please her – it’s what she thought a child from Africa should have as a pet – and pleasurable boasting when I told her about my lion.
  • I recently finished reading The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. The main character Tom Ripley is mesmerising: sociopathic, vulnerable, needy, grandiose, and a fantastic liar, because he makes himself believe his own lies by actually doing the things he’s going to lie about, either imaginatively or in reality. People who believe their own lies are much more convincing. Self-delusion is fequently the secret of great success.
  • However, if you’re self-deluded, it’s difficult to understand other people. You often use yourself as a barometer for gauging others.
  • My children began to lie at about the age of four. I was impressed. Lying is about realising you can alter reality to get what you want from the world. It’s a giant cognitive leap. It’s now much harder for me to assess when the older one is lying: he’s become too good at it.
  • I was at a party on Saturday. We were discussing which teachers at my son’s school were easy on the eye. (Quite a few, it seems.) From there, we discussed a father who had badgered someone there about whether she’d had anal sex. ‘I didn’t mind,’ she had said. ‘He was being honest. That’s just the way he is.’
  • Adolf Hitler said that if you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed. I’ve slightly reshaped the truth here.