Ageing naturally

Growing old as a member of an eco-village has its perks, writes Findhorn resident Rhiannon Hanfman.

Following on with the theme of the ageing population of Findhorn and (everywhere else, really) I would like to approach it from the perspective of one of 60s generation who is now in her sixties. Since it was we who instigated the cult of youth and coined the phrase ‘don’t trust anyone over thirty’, we can hardly complain if there are those who now feel that there are way too many old people around, and that this is somehow a bad thing. It is the natural order of things that the old make way for the young, who in turn will become old and make way for the next generation. What is different now, however, is the timing of it. People are living longer and staying active longer.

Is this a bad thing? Perhaps, if you are young and want to find your place in a world full of oldies who won’t get out of the way.

Over that past two decades I have seen the demographic pattern change in accordance with the state of the community. When the community was young, most of the people were in their twenties and single. They were enthusiastic and energetic. They didn’t mind roughing it or sleeping six to a caravan because, hey, they were building the new age and having a ball doing it. Most didn’t stay long and moved on. Those that did aged along with the community.

When I arrived in the 80s I, like almost everyone else, was in my forties. There were a handful of older people, a few young people and even families with young children. We bemoaned the fact that we were a middle-aged community, and even worse, that there were hardly any men. I would say that no more than 20 – 30 per cent of the population was male. It seemed at the time that men weren’t that interested in spiritual journeys and self-exploration. The focus of the community at that time was personal growth, which appealed predominantly to forty-something women.

In 1990 I left for five years. When I returned things had changed enormously for the better. The energy had shifted to environmental concerns like building energy-efficient housing and creating the eco-village. Whereas when I left there had only been the Foundation, there was now a vibrant outer community surrounding it. The boundaries were dissolving as people who shared the Findhorn ethic but didn’t want to join the Foundation arrived. They created their own projects and businesses. As a result, there were more men, more young people and more families. The demographic is now far more normal, but there is still the issue of a large ageing population here as elsewhere. We have to get used to it and begin to see it as an asset rather than a problem. Believe it or not, the old do have something to offer.

We all have to get old somewhere, and some of us are doing it at Findhorn. It’s an excellent place for that, and the reason is that age doesn’t matter. In all my time here it has never been an issue in the friendships I have formed or the work I have done. For example, I designed the Foundation brochure for four years. I was sixty-two when I got the job, although nobody asked. Would I have obtained a job in graphic design, a field that is dominated by the young, in the ‘real’ world? I doubt it. And where else would I be invited to a 30th birthday party and seriously be expected to come?

There are a lot of older people here but they are active and engaged and don’t view the community as a retirement home. There is an easy flow between the generations that happens here that I like. The varied perspectives and strengths of people at different stages of life’s journey complement one another to the benefit of all.

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What David Hockney has to tell us about football

Why the sudden glut of blond footballers? A conversation I had with the artist back in 1966 gave me a clue. . .

In 1966, I went to interview David Hockney at a rather run-down flat in Bayswater, central London. He was 28 and had just won a gold medal at the Royal College of Art.

In his lavatory, I noticed a cut-out photograph from a newspaper of Denis Law scoring a goal. I asked if he was a football fan. He said no, he just liked Denis Law’s thighs.

The sub-editors cut that remark out of the story, to save any gossip or legal problems. In 1966 homosexual activity could still be an offence.

Hockney and a friend had recently been in the United States and had been watching an advert on TV that said “Blondes have more fun”. At two o’clock in the morning, slightly drunk, they both went out, bought some hair dye and became blond. Hockney decided to remain blond from then on, though he has naturally dark hair.

Is it true that blonds have more fun? Lionel Messi presumably thinks so, otherwise why has he greeted this brand-new season with that weird blond hair? We look at his face, his figure, his posture and we know it’s him – then we blink, thinking what the heck, does he realise some joker has been pouring stuff on his head?

He has always been such a staid, old-fashioned-looking lad, never messing around with his hair till now. Neymar, beside him, has gone even blonder, but somehow we expect it of him. He had foony hair even before he left Brazil.

Over here, blonds are popping up all over the shop. Most teams now have a born-again blondie. It must take a fortune for Marouane Fellaini of Man United to brighten up his hair, as he has so much. But it’s already fading. Cheapskate.

Mesut Özil of Arsenal held back, not going the full head, just bits of it, which I suspect is a clue to his wavering, hesitant personality. His colleague Aaron Ramsey has almost the full blond monty. Paul Pogba of Man United has a sort of blond streak, more like a marker pen than a makeover. His colleague Phil Jones has appeared blond, but he seems to have disappeared from the team sheet. Samir Nasri of Man City went startlingly blond, but is on loan to Seville, so we’re not able to enjoy his locks. And Didier Ndong of Sunderland is a striking blond, thanks to gallons of bleach.

Remember the Romanians in the 1998 World Cup? They suddenly appeared blond, every one of them. God, that was brilliant. One of my all-time best World Cup moments, and I was at Wembley in 1966.

So, why do they do it? Well, Hockney was right, in a sense. Not to have more fun – meaning more sex – because top footballers are more than well supplied, but because their normal working lives are on the whole devoid of fun.

They can’t stuff their faces with fast food, drink themselves stupid, stay up all night, take a few silly pills – which is what many of our healthy 25-year-old lads consider a reasonably fun evening. Nor can they spend all their millions on fun hols, such as skiing in the winter, a safari in the spring, or hang-gliding at the weekend. Prem players have to be so boringly sensible these days, or their foreign managers will be screaming at them in their funny foreign accents.

While not on the pitch, or training, which takes up only a few hours a day, the boredom is appalling, endlessly on planes or coaches or in some hotel that could be anywhere.

The only bright spot in the long days is to look in the mirror and think: “Hmm, I wonder what highlights would look like? I’ve done the beard and the tattoos. Now let’s go for blond. Wow, gorgeous.”

They influence each other, being simple souls, so when one dyes his hair, depending on where he is in the macho pecking order, others follow. They put in the day by looking at themselves. Harmless fun. Bless ’em.

But I expect all the faux blonds to have gone by Christmas. Along with Mourinho. I said that to myself the moment he arrived in Manchester, smirking away. Pep will see him off. OK then, let’s say Easter at the latest . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times