Pastel Shades

Going through Sonning today, there was a small group of pensioners walking near the old bridge. Nothing remarkable about that. What struck me was the colour of the clothes of the ladies – all were wearing those very soft pastel shades that I immediately associate with the elderly: it’s pretty much the stuff of cliché – pastel shades of blue and green mixed with the ever-present beige.

But I’m in my fifties and I know plenty of people in their sixties and seventies who wouldn’t dream of wearing that kind of clothing; look around and you’ll see an awful lot of ‘elderly’ people who aren’t dressing according to the cliché at all. It’s probably true to say that particular cliché is dying out and will shortly be more of an historical footnote than anything else – it will refer to a time gone by. I suspect the pastel-shade-wearing-ladies I saw today were at least in their eighties. Maybe why their clothes struck me was because they’re in fact relatively rare already.

I wonder what will become of all those people involved in the supply of pastel-shaded products. Dye deeper I guess.

It’s the pastel coloured anorak that’s the real clincher – which is precisely what they were wearing. Indeed, later I saw another group of pensioner-tourists creaking their way off a bus in Henley and the same trademark garment was on display then too. It’s hard to say whether these are August clothes or not. It’s easy to imagine this time of year should be hot and dry but the statistics don’t bear that out.

The trouble is, whatever the statistics say, I can’t help but feel there’s something changing in the climate. The other morning was glorious – cloudless, deep blue sky – but wasn’t that warm. There was something that felt like an early Autumn day about it.

It is very frustrating to not be able to pin down what’s making me suspect there’s change afoot. I’d be very happy to be wrong, but I fear I’m not … and for once ‘fear’ is the right word.

For all that talk of change, some things don’t. The hill out of Marlow on the way back to Henley isn’t huge but I always find it a bit of a slog, all the way up to the Marlow Common turn. I don’t know why I find it a notable climb – perhaps it’s just because I tend to come to it towards the end of a ride, not when I’m fresh. It’s not helped by the awful road surface, which makes a big difference to cycling and cyclists. Going up it today, I did wonder if those responsible for the road being so bad would have a different attitude if they knew how great an impact it has on bike riders. I doubt it; cycling is a long way down in this short-sighted country’s overall priorities. The road there’s been bad for as long as I’ve been riding a bike.