Well, I’m rapidly approaching that milestone in everyone’s life which surely is the biggest of the big ones: 65, the age or retirement (at least here in Britain for men until next year). It seems to have arrived rather quickly, but then time does seem to pass ever faster as you get older.
Can’t say I feel much different to what I felt like when I was 25 or 35 or 45. That’s the irony: as every ‘old crock’ will tell you, you are still the same person — what is different is how you are perceived by the rest of the world. In a way you simply become invisible.
I can still remember the horrible shock I felt more than 30 years ago when it was first brought home to me that I was no longer seen as ‘young’.
I was on a small course in studio recording, one of a group of about eight or nine, and I took a shine to a very pretty woman of a bout 18/19. I asked her out for a drink, and she turned me down, but she wasn’t at all unpleasant about it or rude: it was the look in her face and her attitude which spoke volumes. What it said was: are you kidding me? Someone your age? You must be joking! I had just turned 30. Christ, was it deflating. And generally what did increasingly upset me was slowly but inevitably becoming a non-person as far as tasty women was concerned.
Turning 30, I believe, hits women harder than it hits guys, but I don’t remember it as being very pleasant.
Turning 40 wasn’t quiet as bad, though I did feel I was moving on a bit. I remember going to the doctor complaining of backache and he had some X-rays done. When I went to see him the second time, he assured me that there was nothing wrong, just ‘some deterioration of the spine’. Lord, I said, nothing wrong? What caused that then? Come on, he said, your are getting older. That was a bit of a blow.
Turning 50 — well, I thought I would hate it, but in the event I didn’t give a toss. And oddly enough I found I was beginning to worry less about life. Or rather, I was only worrying about the rather more important things. And that worrying was done in a far more practical way.
I didn’t like turning 60 as much five years ago (my birthday is this Friday, on November 21), though I can’t really remember why. But since then birthdays have come and gone without me giving them much thought at all. Believe it or not, I have even once or twice forgotten it was my birthday.
I would be able to retire next week, but I’m not going to and hope to carry on working for a while yet, mainly because I want to save up more money. I shan’t have an enormous pension as it is, although down here in the hickland of North Cornwall, you don’t really need that much dosh. As usual the major bills come from electricity, council tax and running cars. I suppose when I do eventually hang up my pen, I could get rid of either my or my wife’s car to cut bills, but that remains to be seen.
The only real difference I have noticed is that I don’t fancy going out partying as I used to and feel no shame at all in going to bed at 7pm and watching a film or reading a book. (TV bores me and what programmes I do watch, I watch on catch-up).
As for health, well, what is there to say? I had a heart attack more than eight years ago, but since then - touch wood - have had no trouble, and as for the everything else, I just keep my fingers crossed. I don’t drink a lot, and although I do smoke cigars (bought cheaply in Holland, as I keep pointing out in case anyone thinks I’m some kind of rich plutocrat), I don’t smoke a lot of them, fewer in the winter, I because I always smoke outside.
So there you have it. I have held off writing this blog entry for several weeks because, oddly and illogically, there does still seem to be something vaguely reprehensible about ‘getting older’. And I would prefer that you, who is reading this, picture me as some kind of young, devil-may-care chappie who is always up for a laugh. A bit like the chap below.
The first provides proof that in the Antarctic seals are raping penguins.
Then there’s the touching story of the Irish bull who has been saved from execution, a fate which most certainly seemed his after he refused to mate with heifers.
Finally, there’s the reassuring news that despite owning an arse the size of Manhattan, Kim Kardashian can squeeze into a pink PVC dress. Well!