At first I just felt sorry for the Royal Commissioner because the tweets were being mean to him. He is, after all, One of Us: old. But because he has a job and is among the elite, no one has dared to say he is old.
His oldness was among his many virtues, his slight detachment from the world that posh old people cultivate. Because they can. You can’t be old and impressive and detached if you are counting the hours to next pension day. No, it is great to be an old person if you are respected, looked up to even. If the doctor comes to you instead of you having to go the doctor. And if your children know their place because you are financially independent and may help them pay o ff their mortgages if they are good. There is a class system among the old like no other. Old Royal Commissioners personify top of the tree (if you don’t count the Queen). People bow to them in their workplace, and they bow back. Respect. It’s rather nice to see in this day and age when Respect is most often displayed as a threatening tattoo. They are selected for their learning but also their enviable air of detachment. They need to be above the muck of every day, especially the rude sloganeering of the political class afflicted with legislative thrombosis (their policy makers are clots). And they have power. Power is usually the first thing you lose when you leave your job, get your first age-related illness, and realise that all those media reports, about tsunamis of old people, about too many old people hanging on too long to their jobs, their houses on quarter acres, to their lives even, are directed at you. It’s when you realise that bureaucrats can take away your driving licence if you have a illness they don’t like, even if it is treated e ffectively, and can make you go to the GP for all sorts of tests and then (as is to happen in South Australia soon) answer 11 questions (what ARE they?) every year after a certain age. And put you to all this trouble and inconvenience without any statistics to show that the old are worse drivers than other age groups. More about that later. Then I learnt that the poor bugger doesn’t know how to send emails, despite having two screens on his elevated desk in court. He has to have a servant to read emails sent to him. Can you imagine that? It’s my idea of impotence. Well, it’s an idea of impotence that had never occurred to me before. Fancy being unable to send or receive emails, unable to tappity-tap on your intimate keyboard, without someone else intervening. (My God, what if he can’t even text?) at is taking detachment from the world to a ridiculous length. The deaf and the blind do better than that. The great communications revolution of our time has passed this Royal Commissioner by. Poor chap. Poor chap. What on earth will he do if he loses his job? I can imagine the scorn on the face of a job interviewer discovering that the man facing him didn’t have a computer and, if he had, couldn’t use it. His future looks bleak. Stop those tweets at once. Be kind. ••••• Be upstanding in court or wherever, for the Council of the Ageing (COTA). They are not pussycats. They are vigilant about the rights of older Australians. Ian Yates AM retired in July as their chief executive. He was an effective champion of the aspirations of old people and the need for fairness. He didn’t need a Respect tattoo. Jane Mussared, the new chief exec, won’t either. She is forthright and responsive. Here’s what she says about testing older drivers: “Fitness to drive should be based on competence rather than a number (that is, your age). Looking at the research and the road fatality statistics both here and elsewhere, there is no hard evidence to suggest that age, in isolation, is a useful indicator of fitness to drive … The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, Queensland, highlights the risk of being involved in a crash actually lowers among senior adults in terms of rate per population.” “COTA SA supports any initiatives and programs that enhance the safe mobility of older drivers – but mandatory testing based purely on age is not the answer.” Your columnist/third age warrior believes that annual tests, including questionnaires, should require answers from all drivers or none. Produce statistics that back up any other plan to harass the old. If it’s 11 questions every year for all drivers, let’s start with ‘Do you have an overpowering need to cut in and overtake any driver with grey hair?’ ‘Do you have a few (whatever your ‘medication’ is) and sometimes do wheelies in Shirley’s street at 2 am?’ ‘Do you have a tattoo saying ‘Respect’ or a rude word?’ No, strike those. I am going to trust COTA to look after my rights here. ••••• Momentous political events in September. We oldies had to take ourselves o Twitter in case we hyperventilated. As for the new PM, I don’t think he will bother much with South Australia. It hasn’t got harbour views. @mollyfisher4