Sixty-Eight Year Old: Agnes Trounce

So that’s right: the target is driving along without a care in the world. He may be whistling. Perhaps he is listening to music; and because he is driving some of his mind is just plugged into the city… He reaches the end of the side street and slows as he approaches the traffic lights that guard a main road. It is evening and the bloodbath of sunset is daubed over the rooftops. No, it is darker, and on its way to being a dark night. In front of him before the red light is a woodframed Morris Minor, gentlest of cars. The red light spells arterial warning; then red-amber; then green. And the Morris Minor backs into him – and stalls.

Mrs Agnes Trounce, a widow, sixty-eight years of age in a little-old-lady hat and a grey-white shawl (nice touch), climbs flusterdly from her car and turns towards the target with her eyes benign and pleading. He climbs out too. Well, these things happen. But you’d be surprised how impatient, how non-understanding, people can be in such circumstances. None of this ‘Dear oh dear – well, not to worry!’ It’s ‘What you doing on the road anyway, you fucking old cow?’ And this makes things easier for Agnes Trounce. Because then the two young men, big lads, who have been lying low in the back of the Morris suddenly extend their bodies into the street. Then it’s ‘You rammed my mum!’ Or, if you were using black talent, ‘You rammed my gran!’ and so on. ‘That’s my mum you’re fucking swearing at!’ Or ‘That’s my gran you’re calling a fucking old cow!’ Agnes Trounce gets back into her woody Morris and drives away. And the target’s head, by this time, is jerking and crunching around between the door and the door frame. It was just a motoring dispute that got out of hand and you know how people are about their cars.

Martin Amis, The Information

Published in: 68 Years Old | on March 6th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Fifty-Six Year Old: Keith Nearing




The new disease was called Body Dysmorphic Syndrome or Perceived Ugly Disorder. Sufferers of BDS, or PUD, gazed at their own reflections and saw something even worse than reality. At his time of life (he was fifty-six), you resigned yourself to a simple truth: each successive visit to the mirror will, by definition, confront you with something unprecedentedly awful. But nowadays, as he impended over the basin in the bathroom, he felt he was under the influence of a hellish hallucinogen. Every trip to the mirror was giving him a dose of lysergic acid; very occasionally it was a good-trip trip, and nearly always it was a bad-trip trip; but it was always a trip.

Now Keith called for another coffee. He felt much cheered.

Maybe I don’t actually look like that, he thought. I’m just insane – that’s all. So perhaps there’s nothing to worry about. Body Dysmorphic Syndrome, or Perceived Ugly Disorder, was what he hoped he’d got.

 Martin Amis, The Pregnant Widow

Published in: 56 Years Old | on November 24th, 2011 | 1 Comment »