I know I’m getting old because I’ve just turned 60 which means I am now officially “old”. I don’t feel sixty, I don’t even feel particularly grown up, but my claims to the term ‘middle aged’ are now beginning to sound naïve, even laughable. Like all Baby Boomers who like to think we invented sex and drugs and rock and roll, getting old was never going to happen to me. We decided “we’d rather die than grow old” and some of us I notice are even proclaiming “we don’t do old” like we have a choice. But like it or not, time is catching up with us. Suddenly I can feel a slight change in people’s attitudes to me – if I tell someone I ‘m joining the community choir or the local ukulele group (both more or less compulsory for the over 50s) people say “Good for you!” in that way they do to old people, like I’m bucking a trend, or needed a great big pat on the back for still being in the land of the living. Younger people obviously think I’m getting old, but I’m finding hard to come to grips with.
This late middle age or early old age doesn’t even have a name, it’s a no man’s land. There’s no role model that works anymore because we’ve all decided that we’re not going to age like our parents did. Everywhere I look the over 50s are behaving more like teenagers than old farts. They’re busy divorcing, getting STD’s, trekking the Himalayas or dyeing their hair bright pink – like a pack of adolescents but with more liver spots and the occasional need for a nice sit down. Is there a grey revolution under way? Or is it just that old-ness is suddenly on my radar and, just as policeman start to look about 12 when you are in your 30s, old people start to look younger the older you get?
I’ve been mining a seam of comedy based on growing older for ten years with the Grumpy Old Women franchise for BBC Two, and writing the stage shows with Jenny Éclair.Now it is time to figure out where all this new found grey attitude might be heading, which is what this blog is all about.