This is an announcement: You can agree or disagree as always, dear reader, but this column is never afraid to stand up for what is right, and this column will always fight the good fight.
I do not accept that simply because I am in my seventies I am “old”. It is an indisputable fact that we are growing old from the day we are born; we are old at whatever age we become along the journey, but I refuse to be told that I am “old” now – because I am not!
You see, according to official informed thinking, when we pass 60 we are “old”. This column will fight that assertion to the death which, of course, officialdom feels will be soon. Watch my lips: I am not “old”!
Don’t get me wrong; I have no objection to the natural process of ageing as it happens; but if I may paraphrase the prayer of saint Augustine; “Oh Lord make me old – but not just yet”, or even Mae West who said; “Of course I do not mind if I have to grow old when I consider the alternative.”
But then we have well-meaning “do-gooders” who put labels on the likes of me in order to disguise what they are really getting at and sometimes they will even patronise me with stuff like, “60’s are the new middle-age”. God almighty they couldn’t say much worse – I not yet having come to terms with middle age even.
Another bit of name-calling is the term “Golden Oldie”; Jazus, can you beat that one? “Golden Oldie”? It’s like what you might call a fourteen year old yellow Labrador dog. Worse, you will hear radio announcers throwing out “baby talk” at us seventies boys: Happy Birthday to Sean Og Flynn who is 70 years “young” today. You cannot be 70 years young!! When I was nine, I was nine years old, when I reached 21, I was twenty-one years old, when I’m 80, I’ll be eighty years old!
Granted, the next attractive young lady who will run her hand over my once sinewy body will probably be wearing a rubber glove, or when I awake at 4am craving relief from something it is now most likely to be for a half spoonful of bread-soda to cure a heart-burn – but this doesn’t mean I’m old … does it?
Do you remember the song by Diarmuid O’ Leary and the Bards; “The oldest Swinger in Town”? No, that is not me either. I am not going to buy me a Harley Davidson motorcycle, pal around with boy-racers, or do a mail- order (should this be ‘male-order’!) for a 22 years old (see, she’s old too!) Russian girl who “speaks good English.” I just want to be myself – which is just not being old!
Of course I don’t believe that I am going to live forever, unlike that great story told about some famous eccentric English writer who believed he would never die: On his death-bed, he came out of a coma just as a nurse said, “he won’t last tonight”, at which time the patient opened his eyes wide and his last words on this earth were; “Well f**k me!!”
The time has come for us seventies kids to stand up for ourselves. People over 45 in this country control 80% of the wealth. They say “money talks” – well maybe if we start spending it all just on ourselves, there won’t be much more patronising talk about “Golden Oldies”, eh? This is what the rest of them deserve. The youth of today have less respect for old people than ever before. (As I belong to neither category, you can accept this conclusion as an impartial journalistic observation.)
When some cheeky young cur calls me a cranky old fart I don’t allow myself to get annoyed, because I know he must be full of drugs or just out of rehab and that he is just jealous of my acquired wisdom and finesse: This is another benefit of my age group, we have a great understanding of the next generation!
OK, so my eyesight is poorer and my hearing is not what it used to be: I don’t play squash anymore and am more often nowadays referred to as Ian’s or Olga’s dad rather than being the main act.
I am getting better at sleeping in the armchair and I talk of great sportsmen that those around me don’t remember. The fun that my family used to make of me behind my back they now do to my face – but you see, all the time I know something that they do not; they think I’m old and I’m not!
When I do get old and when my time comes to go I shall do so without complaint. As you gather round my little plot in Killulagh, then you can all finally call me “old” – posthumously!!
The dangerous age is any time between one and ninety-nine.