Old age is not just an attitude of mind, it is a blooming state.
Arthritis, angina, hacking cough, dimming eyes, bad hip and so on.
But the spirit of a man rides above this and transforms the gloom.
At 67 I am just a baby compared with half of the people I meet at
Age Concern: 70, 80, 90 and all in the land of the living. I feel
like death and they exhibit great life.
My carers treat me with respect but there are no “sirs” or bowing
and scraping: they belong to a different age to when I was a child.
They wrench me back from a twilight world into the land of the
living. I am glad of this; it makes me feel young. But when they
are gone I sink again and it is somewhat sickening. Of course, on
my own I don’t know what age I am, only the problems that surround
me and the thoughts inside my head.
My worst problem is getting up in the morning. It is like rising
from the grave. A tremendous struggle to think straight and
function at all. I sleep like a top and rise like a zombie. The
great cure-all is time; after an hour I am back to normal.
I’m very proud to be old, but my brain belongs to 12-year old. It
is incredibly lively on occasions but there are long gaps and these
are agony. The strain of doing nothing is considerable. I do not
have the energy or the will to get up and do something so I am
Compare this with my life as a breadwinner. Shooting off to work
every day and plunging into action. Now I’m glad of the holiday
except at weekends, when everyone has a holiday and nothing can be
done. I rely on my telephone to get things done: at the weekend it
is dead. Why can’t Saturdays and Sundays be exactly the same as any
other day of the week? It would be much easier. People who serve me
on the telephone are usually very respectful but that is because I
am a customer. My voice is old and they may respect my public
Before you think I am completely weak and feeble, I should point
out that I do a lot of writing and I put on magic shows locally and
amaze hundreds. The adrenalin pumping through me means I am on
You really can make the most of old age if you put your mind to it.
You have precious little time so all your energies are or should be
Are you looking forward to heaven or oblivion? As a christian I
anticipate heaven, but oblivion is not so bad – complete rest and
peace for ever. But I should not let such thoughts interfere with
my enjoyment of life as an old man. I cannot see myself: if I think
about myself at all, it is as a 22-year old. Then suddenly the old
angina strikes again and I am gasping for breath.
Veneration for old age is laudable but cannot be guaranteed. It
used to be, but it isn’t now – particularly when you feel so young
yourself. Treat us gently; our bones are becoming ever more
Richard Jameson is retired and uses mental health