Third Age: Old is bold

I sent my federal MP a postcard with a copy of my quite angry Third Age column about the Budget. The card had a picture of an old woman in a protest march carrying a banner, which said: “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma.”

I sent my federal MP a postcard with a copy of my quite angry Third Age column about the Budget. The card had a picture of an old woman in a protest march carrying a banner, which said: “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma.” I suppose I am lucky that Australia Post is still delivering handwritten envelopes (how the changes in letter delivery are going to impact on old people! Did anyone bother to ask us?) and I will be luckier still if the card reached my MP before staffers put it in the ‘cranky old lady bin’. But watch out. Cranky senior bins must be overflowing as more of us old people express our thoughts to our political representatives (good reader, have you expressed yours?). Social media are fine for outpourings of wrath but you need to make direct contact with your own MP and your senators to remind them that they will not stay where they are without the consent of the voters. Voters include a lot of grandmas. We are not Miss Marple pussycats anymore. We see power in numbers, power in seniority. Power in memory and experience. If my MP didn’t feel a pre-volcanic rumble when he read that grandma was pissed off, he should have. Grandmas matter. Pissing them off is more serious than upsetting shock jocks and a few hacks. (For the sake of this story, grandmas include grandpas. Remember how men resisted Women’s Lib changes to the language on the ground that ‘men include women’? Well, women can include men this time. Sorreee.) I am an old grandma and pissing me off means pitting yourself against 70-plus years of experience, a proper historical memory, especially of how governments come to grief and how oppositions, too, often need a kick up the bum. We know how oppositions hold back a bit when they see themselves benefiting from unpopular changes the government is making but which they themselves might like eventually to embrace without the hassle of introducing them. See what I mean? We don’t miss much. Grandma’s watching. I read some advice meant for young women recently that ‘meek is weak’. Well, old is bold. Grandmas have a lot of time to inform themselves. They have time to read things like, ‘Is Australia’s debt really as bad as X claims?’ taking in the graphs as well as the text. We are not beholden to bosses. Slogans and focus groups do not impress us. We are not distracted from the state of our nation by messy personal relations. I can think of many men who were reinedin by the grandma figure in their life. Rupert Murdoch was one of them. I was warned in the 80s that the true nature of Rupert Murdoch would not be publicly unleashed until his mother, the wonderful Dame Elisabeth, left the planet. And ain’t that the truth? If she had lived longer, we might see more about manmade (includes women!) climate change in her son’s publications, written with less suspicion and more urgency. Old people increasingly are winning in a way that really gets up the nose of younger people such as the English nursing home staff who didn’t stir their stumps to get Normandy Landings survivor, Bernard Jordan, 89, to the 70th commemorations in France. He must have been right pissed off. He took off by himself and left them looking silly– and why shouldn’t he? Old age is not a prison. It can be a liberation. Old people don’t have a lot to lose. While we are thinking about those same commemorations, consider Pee Wee Martin, aged 93, who made a parachute jump. He wanted to do it, so what the hell, archy? Beware those who don’t have much to lose, be they poor or old. The old especially, don’t feel a need to conform to expectations. We’re up for a riot. And we are angry about a lot of serious things. Mind you, there are many shades of being pissed off. I am forever pissed off by TV violence, especially dismemberment, by repeated funeral ads in afternoon films, and cruelty to animal jokes on QI. But among the things seriously pissing grandmas off are dumping asylum seekers in camps (we remember the war, you see), policy made without consulting or even considering older members of the population, persecution of the young especially by limiting educational chances, and by letting our legacy be a damaged planet. We dislike cruelty, to people and animals, and have a lot of time to dwell on it and see how unnecessary it is. Pissed off grandmas should not hesitate to induce in wrong doers that feeling of imminent incontinence that affects the young (and perhaps the enthusiastic motorist Senator Ricky Muir) when shown up and told off. No one wants to hear from grandma that they’ve stuffed up. @mollyfisher4

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