At age 90, Jane Miller relates her ongoing battle with a self that wants to “indulge my lurking wish to spend longer in bed in the morning reading the Guardian and listening to the Today programme than I already do,” and the one that obsessively logs steps and reads classics in their original Russian, to make the most of her physical and mental abilities.
I am freer than I’ve ever been, yet I quite often feel edged out, and it’s clear that I have become actually and metaphorically deaf to significant contemporary sounds. My spectator’s view of it all doesn’t fail to remind me that other people are not so lucky or so detached, that some of them are sad beyond hope, that there are young people who don’t want to stay alive and people who worry to distraction and despair or who suffer all kinds of untreatable pain. I became an adult just after the end of the Second World War, and I think of the 1950s, so often described by younger generations as bleak and impoverished, as a time of idealism and optimism. I find it difficult to detect that sort of faith in the future now, though I hope against hope that it’s there in some form I’m simply too old to recognise.