Ask Vir­ginia Iron­side

The Oldie - - CONTENTS - vir­ginia iron­side Please email me your prob­lems at prob­lem­page@the­oldie.co.uk – I will an­swer ev­ery email that comes in; and let me know if you would like your dilemma to be con­fi­den­tial

Memo­rial plans

QMy sis­ter and I are or­gan­is­ing a memo­rial for my fa­ther, who was 99 when he died, and we are hav­ing it in his gar­den. My sis­ter is say­ing a few words and we are plant­ing a rose in his me­mory. He had hun­dreds of friends – so I’m sug­gest­ing that, af­ter my sis­ter has spo­ken, we ask any­one who likes to give their own per­sonal trib­ute. But my sis­ter is very much against it. She says my fa­ther, who used to be in the Royal Marines, would not have liked it. But I say that the lit­tle cer­e­mony is not for him, but his rel­a­tives and friends. What do you think? J D, Hert­ford­shire

AMost of his friends, or at least his oldest and per­haps best ones, will be of the same gen­er­a­tion as your fa­ther. Un­less you have hun­dreds of chairs in the gar­den, they’ll be in howl­ing, arthritic agony if they have to stand for too long, dread­ing yet an­other per­son leap­ing up to have their two pen­nies’ worth. The more peo­ple who speak, the more obliged more peo­ple will feel to have their say. And se­condly, you are open­ing the door to the long­est, most bor­ing wind­bags, some of who are, rather like the preacher at the re­cent royal wed­ding, al­most pow­ered by the sound of their voices and refuse to stop. It is well-nigh im­pos­si­ble to tell them, very po­litely, thank you but enough is enough.

Also, as they’ll share the same val­ues as your fa­ther, they’ll want the cer­e­mony to be prop­erly or­gan­ised. If I were you, I’d an­nounce, be­fore you start, that tea will be served at a cer­tain time – that way, peo­ple know where they are and can share their mem­o­ries over a cuppa and prefer­ably from a chair. Keep the cer­e­mony un­der con­trol. All your fa­ther’s friends will be im­mensely grate­ful.

Are we all ‘guys’ now?

QI was so pleased the BBC’S Jane Gar­vey has al­ready ob­jected, but I do hate it when a waiter comes up to my ta­ble with the words: ‘Hey, guys! How are you to­day?’ I feel like say­ing, ‘Ex­cuse me, I’m not a guy’, but my son tells me I’m be­ing ridicu­lous and every­one says this these days. Au­drey B, Wey­bridge

AIt’s the ac­cepted plu­ral of both sexes in the US but cer­tainly not in the UK, and par­tic­u­larly not among older peo­ple. Per­haps no one wants to say, ‘Hi, guys and gals’ be­cause it re­minds them of the ghastly Jimmy Sav­ile. But how can ‘guys’ be OK in the plu­ral and not the sin­gu­lar? I’m sure your son would be as­ton­ished if some­one re­ferred to you, his mother, as ‘a re­ally good guy’. But then I’m picky. I hate it when some­one comes up to a group of women and says: ‘Hi, ladeez!’ What on earth is wrong with a sim­ple ‘Hello’?

Test­ing times

QI’ve been told I have to re­take my driv­ing test now I’m 70. I am dread­ing it. I’m ex­tremely care­ful driv­ing around lo­cally and have never had an ac­ci­dent, but I would hate to be tested on a mo­tor­way. Va­lerie Archer, by email

AHav­ing spent about an hour try­ing to get through to the DVLA, I’ve fi­nally talked to a real per­son. You don’t have to take a test, so don’t worry. But it is com­pletely your re­spon­si­bil­ity to ap­ply for a re­newal af­ter you’ve reached 70. Ap­par­ently they’ll send you what’s known as a ‘cour­tesy re­minder’ – I have to say I never got one – but the onus is ba­si­cally on you. You then have to re­new ev­ery three years – again, it’s all up to you to re­mem­ber, not up to the DVLA to re­mind you. You’ll be asked var­i­ous ques­tions about your state of health and your eye­sight – make sure you have re­cently been tested, as this can be a hid­den prob­lem with elderly peo­ple.

If you have a photo ID driv­ing li­cence, you can see when the re­newal time is due. It’s in tiny print on the back – so have a mag­ni­fy­ing glass or a young per­son to hand.

It might be worth book­ing a course, any­way, at the In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Mo­tor­ing, as sug­gested by a reader, Jeremy Ma­cafee, to make you ex­tra con­fi­dent, just in case mo­tor­way driv­ing were to be­come a ne­ces­sity – in the case of some­one be­com­ing ill for ex­am­ple and your hav­ing to rush them to hospi­tal. All too likely at our age, un­for­tu­nately.

No tears

QYou had a let­ter from some­one who didn’t cry at his fa­ther’s death (July is­sue). Nor did I when my fa­ther died. But I some­times feel ashamed that I felt worse when I was sent to board­ing school when I was eight! G P Toronto

ATo­tally un­der­stand­able. For you, in your mind, your par­ents might as well have died when they sent you away so cru­elly. No won­der you didn’t shed a tear later.

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