The language we use about older people has negative impacts on how older people are valued by our society. That is the thrust of a think piece written by Dr Emma Lindsay and Stephen Froome for the Hanover @50 debate called 'Sex, Skydiving and Tattoos.' The argue that older people should be a valued source of wisdom rather than being seen as a cumbersome burden.
This provoked a memory of my mother where she played very different role. Maybe he kind of role Charles Bronson might have played if he was a caring older woman rather than a gun wielding avenger. Living in Sutton she would often get the train home at night. There was a cab rank outside the station to take her the rest of the way. But there was a bus that went past the end of her road that she would often take instead.
One night when she got to the bus stop there was a group of young men and a couple already there. However she quickly realised they weren't a couple. The man, worse of ware was crudely and invasively trying to get the woman's attention and chat her up. His manner was menacing as he invaded her personal space. My Mother didn't look the other way, but used the power that being a 70 year old woman gave her. She moved next to the woman and made a great show of recognising her. The Leary man was persistent, again forcing his presence on the woman. Addressing him directly my Mother explained that they wanted to be left alone. This broke the man's stride but he returned. My mother more firmly told him to go away. This threw him. Confronted by a little old lady what could he do. His mates were watching. There was no kudos in fighting her as there would have been with another young man. There was no cheap thrill as there might have been for him getting nasty with a young woman. Now it could have got really unpleasant if this man had turned on her, but my Mother had guessed right. This man was a nuisance not a psychopath, when faced with the choice of confronting an old lady or slipping away it was no contest. He went away, back to hang around with his mates.
The bus soon came and the Woman and my Mother got on. They lived close to each other as it turned out. .