I started to run during the first Lockdown because I was getting fat, I was getting creaky and, because of the restrictions, I needed an excuse to get out of the house. I continue to run, but unfortunately, I also continue to be fat and creaky. I get out of the house, but I am surrounded by a cocoon of music and perspiration which ensures that I interact with no-one, save those kindly souls who enquire about my wellbeing. I cannot speed up somehow and I cannot run further. Not even a cycle-borne outrider carrying chocolate could spur me on. I am at ‘Max’. It’s not much of a max, but I dare not creep into the red band now.
I am of an age when there is precious little to do other than to worry about the age I am: when I see news stories about amazing, ‘with it’ centurions and think ‘Wow! That’s incredible,’ before realising that it is only just around the corner for me, and my marbles are already slipping from my enfeebled grasp and rolling under the sofa, just out of reach; when every malady from which I suffer (or believe I suffer) is associated with old age; when my back tightens in direct inverse ratio to my bladder and my feet ache permanently, on the simple basis that they have to prop up the rest of me. I find myself constantly excusing my inadequacies by saying, ‘Well, I am sixty-two you know.’ I can still do everything I did twenty years ago – only not as well. My mind remains open to new experiences – it’s just that I forget what they are before I get the chance to try them.
I am fortunate – although I would never admit it: it does not pay to give Fate a target – that my brain still works relatively quickly and my humour is, broadly speaking, still in nappies. Occasionally I think that I might be developing a mature, sophisticated sense of humour, but then I realise that such a thing does not exist: nobody laughs at ‘clever’. Sophistication is just an excuse for jokes that fail to make people laugh, despite mentioning Kant. I can ‘turn a phrase’ from time to time, but I still laugh at the skirt inadvertently tucked into the knickers.
Perhaps if growing older serves any purpose whatsoever it is in allowing you to give yourself a break every now and then. My expectations have not been lowered, but I realise that I can no longer reach them without a ladder. My chances of attaining fame, fortune and an illicit liaison with Sandra Bullock are exactly as far away as they have always been, but my ability to cross the divide is now hampered by knees, bladder and a recently developed ‘What the fuck’ attitude which means that I am reappraising the desirability of everything from money to chocolate, love to whisky, and sex on the beach to nine holes on the putting green. There remains a tiny piece of me that believes I may still be ‘discovered’, but a much larger piece that questions ‘For what?’
What age does bring is the realisation that, outside of a very small number of family members, nobody actually believes that you are in any way ‘special’, nor that the world in general will be in any particular way poorer for your absence from it (although, in my case, there may be a distiller or two in Scotland willing to disagree). In short, age tells you that what is gone is gone and what is left doesn’t really add up to much, so make the most of it while you can and if that means you have to run about a bit every now and then, well, you might as well just get on with it.