Monday, 19 March 2007

Sixty years old!

Yes, tomorrow's the big day - I finally turn 60. It doesn't seem at all significant to me, though other people insist it's some kind of milestone. But nowadays 60 is nothing, when it's commonplace to reach 80 or even 90 and the average 60 year old is still healthy enough to do a demanding job and then go mountaineering or hang-gliding in their spare time.

I certainly haven't experienced any ageism - I've found jobs as easily (or as laboriously) as people half my age and my workmates have never suggested I'm past it or 'not fit for purpose'. Of course that may be partly because I look very young for my age - a trait that runs in the family. I'm astonished, and slightly disappointed, that my hair is not yet grey - at school I always used to envy my music teacher with his glorious mane of wild grey hair.

I think the most puzzling thing about being 60 is having no idea how long I'm going to live, how healthy or unhealthy I'm going to be, and whether I should indulge all my lingering ambitions ASAP in case of rapid physical decline. My father died at 70 but my maternal grandparents both lived to 91, so it's anybody's guess. I just hope that Jenny, who's ten years younger than me, doesn't wind up looking after a crumbling geriatric.

But some people still think that by my age life must be rather humdrum and flat and I must spend all my time reliving the glory days of my youth - digging out the old Beatles albums and rereading Lord of the Rings. On the contrary - I still find life amazingly interesting and surprising and have no desire to live in the past. I think oldies who condemn contemporary culture as baffling and rarified need to loosen up and open their eyes. I mean, how can anyone not enjoy Pink and Goldfrapp?

And finally I reflect that reaching 60 at all is due to a lucky geographical accident - being born in a prosperous western country. If I lived in Zimbabwe, my current life expectancy would be around 37 - and dropping.

"The good thing about getting older is that, as you become less attractive, so you have less desire to go out and conquer everyone you see." - Julian Clary (47).

Photograph by Smitten at Flickr

4 comments:

Jenny said...

Happy Birthday Nick! And here's to many more of them

Jenny

Brian said...

A belated welcome to Belfast. And a belated Happy Birthday.

Alan in Belfast said...

Happy Birthday!

John Self said...

Belated birthday greetings! Ever since my parents turned 60 in the last couple of years, suddenly I too think it's not remotely old any more...