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"Old Man/Young Man..It's your Choice"

by John Davies

A couple of weeks ago a monumental event happened in my life. It was my birthday. Nothing monumental about that I hear you say.  Everyone has one.  Every year.  Aaaah.  But this one was different. This was a horror birthday. This one had a NOUGHT on the end.

Now that’s ok if you’re 20 or 30 or 40 even. I know it’s OK cos I been there. Done it. Worn the tee shirt as they say. Even 50 wasn’t too bad. And I’m not 70 yet…so work it out for yourselves.

The big six oh kinda crept up on me though. Yea I knew it was coming - course I did- and yet, when it arrived,  it hit me on the back of the head like an Argie exorcet
Hang on a minute I thought!!!… this can’t be right.  I’m still young…. Aren’t I?    Still feel the same as when I was 18.… Don’t I ???    Still look the same…. Don’t I ?  There’s something wrong here… I still drive a sports car for Heaven’s sake.    

60 ???    Nah…….that’s something that happens to other people.  Not me.  I can still go to nightclubs and pull……. Can’t I ????

Now don’t get me wrong…. The day itself was wonderful. Lunch at The Chardonnay in Ashington. Lovely presents. And in the evening my daughters took me to the most expensive restaurant in Southampton (where they live) and bought me lobster thermidor and Dom Perignon champagne at 130 quid a bottle. (Now that’s what you call living). It was fabulous.

But then…. after the celebrations, a kind of gloom settled over me. A terrible realisation the my best years were probably behind me. And… even worse… that most of my years were behind me.

I mean….what is there to look forward to???.  It’s all downhill from here.  Right??
My career won’t advance from here. The hair’s gone grey. I’ll have to trade in my sports car for a Rover 75 soon.   20 year old girls don’t look at me anymore. It’s all DOOM AND GLOOM..

All this lasted about a week……. And then I got my act together.

And I started to think about how fortunate I am.

I believe that we live in a world where 60 is no longer as old as it used to be (if you get my drift). In fact, a magazine recently ran an article stating that 60 was the new 40 in terms of how we live and how we feel. And I think that’s probably right.  My father - God rest his sou l- was an old man at 50. But that wasn’t his fault. It was the fault of the times in which he grew up.  His generation endured WW2, the 1930’s depression, mass unemployment etc. No wonder it aged him.

My generation are so very very fortunate. Never seen a war. (Well, there was the Falklands and Iraq-- but that was only on the tele).  Never got called up.  Never gone hungry. Never had no shoes on my feet. Harold MacMillan was right…we “Never had it so good”

But that’s the past and it’s gone.  I should look to the future now….. And guess what… after wallowing in my self pity for a few days that’s what I’m trying to do.

After all I’m only 40 (so it said in the mag) so I got years to go yet. And they will be great years. I am lucky to enjoy good health. We are financially secure. I have a great job which takes me around Europe. Garden and Rosy spring to mind.

AND…on top of that… in 5 years time Gordon Brown will send me some money every week. Yippee!!!.  ‘Bout time to… I’ve paid in for 45 years.  Hang on though… we are supposed to have equality of the sexes now are we not?.. so how come women get a pension at 60 and I have to wait another 5 years??. I shall be writing a strong letter to my MP immediately after this !!

Between you and me though I think there are other perks to being a pensioner. For example…I think they send you a list of secret shops that only pensioners can go in. And in this shop I’ll be able to buy trousers that have a waistband that goes just under my armpits, hehe.     And… I think they send you a list of boring inane topics that you can chat about to the girl in the Bank or Post Office when there are 30 people queuing behind you. You know… stuff like the outrageous price of cauliflowers.                Ohhhhh… can’t wait for that one. 

Anyway….. As you will have gathered I’m ok about things now.  Yea…60 hit hard but what can you do. I have a great family and fabulous grandchildren. Things are good and the future positive. What more can you ask for?

A good friend of mine was 60 a couple of years ago and he felt exactly the same as I did. Went through the pain barrier, as it were, for a week or two. But his misery passed just as mine did.

It could be that this is a common feeling amongst folk who are reaching this milestone. Maybe it’s on the horizon for you. If so, then that’s why I wrote this little piece. To reassure you that you will be fine.

And now  (cos I‘m only 60)….. I’m off to Stringfellows to pull a lap dancer !!!

.............. Almost forgot to tell you.  Even though I’m 60 I still have an ambition in my life.
And it’s this…….
When I am 90 years old I want to be shot dead by the jealous husband of a 20 year old girl !!!!   ROCK ON !!

- end -

(15 March 2007)

"Unreliable School Memories - The Motorist"

by John Phillips

Sitting down, Jim Butcher was a normal 14 year old but, on standing, he acquired quite a different persona - obviously an eager would-be motorist.  In the fully vertical position, Jim transformed into a car or a driver, or perhaps a combination of the two. You could always hear Jim coming when way off because he emitted the realistic sound of a car's engine, producing revving and gear changing noises at appropriate intervals.  Coming to a junction, he would make a beeping sound so there was little danger of collision with other pupils (or perhaps vehicles in his mind).

Over a period of 18 months we all became accustomed to the happy drone of his engine as he motored around our Sussex school campus. However, at the start of one new term there was a distinct change - Jim had upgraded himself to a rally car. Sounds were now more frantic, the engine pitch racing, and he had started making double-declutching noises.

Walking down the school's main thoroughfare one day, I saw Jim fast approaching; tyre squealing noises could be heard as he weaved his way in and out of the human traffic. And then it happened.  A new boy, unaware of this phenomenon, moved into his path and there was a head on collision.  Momentarily there was silence but, giving the matter very little thought, Jim opened his mouth and let out a loud "Kerrrrrunch".  The apple Jim had been carrying fell out of his hand, rolled down the grassy bank and eventually came to a rest by the big Mulberry tree.  As it rolled I distinctly heard the metallic tinkle of a spinning hub cap!  The following day heralded a new sound, one of a more sedate saloon.

- end -

(January 2007)

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