Hard to explain to someone who has not experienced this, that a perfect looking day, clear sky, bright sun can be horrible. But that is how it is here when the east wind blows, straight from the Sahara, the way it is doing today. The dust is rising, sea and islands are no longer visible. Granny stays indoors as much as she can. Her skin is growing old fast enough without her allowing the dry dry vicious wind, the vicious sun, to speed the relentless process.
'What's wrong with getting wrinkles?' asks Beloved. He doesn't get it, does he? Which explains,why this man who comes upstairs and just jumps into bed - 'I have cleaned my teeth,' he says virtuously - why he's so baffled by the time Granny takes to join him, what with all the cleaning off, rubbing in, etc etc etc, she goes in for. 'Why do you need all that?' he asks, crossly.
Granny does think, looking round her generation, very few of whom look like women of her age used to look in her mother's day, that the advent of decent creams, more idea of a healthy diet, more exercise, the decline of smoking, changing views about the appropriate hairstyles, wear, demeanour, of the old has helped them look, if not spring chickens exactly, not quite so like the human equivalent of boiling fowl that her mother's generation mostly did. Catch a middle-aged let alone elderly woman permless, wearing jeans then? No, never. (Actually Granny's mother did have a pair of red jeans, but she only ever wore them at home.) Boiling fowl does taste good, for sure, if cooked for a long time. But Granny is not ready for the pot yet; nor does she feel it. Or look it.
She cleans up her skin each night. She rubs in her creams, night and morning. She flosses her teeth and cleans them for far longer than her Beloved thinks necessary.
'You'll do in the enamel. Except what's on your teeth isn't enamel, it's...(Granny has forgotten the precise scientific term he gave her) why can't they get it right?'
'Because they're all like me; pig ignorant,' she says, turning off her toothbrush at last and coming to bed, smiling and smelling sweetly.
But sometimes she wishes that females aged - or rather didn't age - like birds, at least the ones not deprived of their feathers. There is a famous picture of an ornithologist somewhere - or rather two pictures, forty years apart -of him holding the same seabird - a fulmar. The bird looks the same in both pictures. This cannot be said of the ornithologist.
Granny knows -at least in terms of ageing - which she would rather be. She does not even try to put this point to her Beloved. It's a waste of precious breath.
She does know his attitude is the healthier one: probably. And that the curse of the ages is mirrors everywhere you look, so that you can't avoid the horror, ever. Never mind. What is nice to know is that she is loved, would be loved, wrinkles notwithstanding. Isn't Beloved lovely?.... he is lovely - most of the time.