Published on Monday 21 September 2009 15:53
Once it was said that life begins at 40. These days it can be 50 or even 60. Lionel Morris takes a look at the pros and cons of growing old and meets some people who have used it as a golden opportunity to embrace a new life. Once it was said that life begins at 40. These days it can be 50 or even 60. Lionel Morris takes a look at the pros and cons of growing old and meets some people who have used it as a golden opportunity to embrace a new life.It's no fun growing old, but it's better than the alternative - not being allowed the chance to do so. You get forgetful, really forgetful.
For example, you don't just forget whether you've taken your tablets – you don't remember that you have taken them. So you take them a second time, as I did once. And overdose – with the result that I slept right through Sunday. Nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn't bother to wake me. I can't think why. It's a long, slow, gradual process growing old, of course. It started, I think, when I had my hair cut and the barber asked if I was a pensioner. I was in my mid-50s at the time. Unfortunately, I told the truth – and paid full price. I hoped her eyesight didn't reflect on the quality of the haircut. Then, a few weeks later, came another blow. I passed a drop-in centre for the "elderly", with a sign in the window saying the qualifying age was 55. . . So I was now officially old. Never mind, I had a vacation booked. A cruise, naturally. After all, that's how old people holidayed. Either that or a coach trip somewhere. Or a week in Bournemouth. But back to our break. We took a train to King's Cross, changed for Waterloo en route to Southampton. What has the ageing process made you think about life? What tips would you pass on to a younger generation? Comment below, email us: news@ peterboroughtoday.co.uk or write us a letter now. -------------------------------------
My wife and I manhandled our suitcases, God, they were heavy, really heavy, on and off the train and just about coped, until we had to get them up and down the steps at King's Cross. "Could we give you hand with those?" enquired two teenage girls, politely. "No you can't," I replied indignantly.
"Yes, please," said my wife gratefully. Yes, I was definitely, officially, old, unable, so it would appear, to even carry suitcases. And so, gradually, the years edged upwards – until I was eligible for my free bus pass. And free prescriptions. And a senior citizen's railcard. The list was endless. Free eye tests (perhaps that hairdresser could do with one of those), reduced-priced glasses, concessionary-priced meals. Suddenly, growing old was good. Getting there was even better. I could be grumpy (OK, grumpier). It was expected, welcomed almost. People grew suspicious if I was cheerful. So, to help them out, I wasn't. I didn't have to hold doors open for people any longer, or give up my seat on a crowded bus. People who paid, stood. And those with free passes sat down. There were even seats reserved for elderly (and disabled) passengers. Life couldn't get much better. And with old age came greater wisdom, so I was told.
That bit, I must confess, seemed to have passed me by.
I acknowledge, for example, that despite their bad press, politicians are honest, decent, sensible, upright professionals, who only have the best interests of the country and of their constituents at heart. I was left baffled, therefore, by them changing the laws to allow all-day drinking and then complaining when people binged on alcohol, risking their lives. Or how could they send our soldiers, our young people, our future, to fight in Afghanistan, the very country that routed a Russian invasion force so spectacularly around 20 years earlier? Or how could they preside over a system that denies ill people vital drugs because of expense, yet can throw vast sums of money at overpaid bankers without stopping their bonuses? They tell...