Last night – well, ‘last night’ for me, it was actually around 5.10pm – up at the gym I reached and then crossed something of a Rubicon as regards my age and fitness.
You know how it is.
Yesterday morning I had read an item on the Section 2 of The Times newspaper on the subject of its columnists comparing their real ages to what age they actually regarded themselves as privately inside.
James Marriott (real age 26) identified himself as being 44; Hattie Crisell (35) saw herself as 25; Deborah Ross (57) saw herself as 38; and Kevin Mather (46) saw himself as 19.
I’m not being entirely stereotypical here, but there’s a degree to which one might say this is only to be expected – cue here tired references to ‘man-child’, ‘overgrown schoolboy’ and the pretty widespread male obsessions with sport, sports club supporting, motors and the female form, naked or otherwise.
You’d think that women, on the other hand – no doubt weighed down by life’s little obstacles and surprises like relationships, having to take command of all matters relating to household duties and cooking, hormones, bringing up kids, the arrival of grey hairs, ticking body clocks and fast-receding baby-producing years … as well as holding down a serious working career these day, of course … would be far more self-aware when it comes to Time and ‘keeping up appearances’. Would it be unfair to select a stereotypical comparable tired reference such as “mutton dressed as lamb?”
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule.
The article concerned got me thinking about my own position on the subject.
I have just turned 67 – at least, that’s what my CV would say if truthful (which it is). However, I don’t regard myself as anything like that as I look out, without my spectacles because viewing long distances I don’t need them, upon the world at large.
It takes a bit of time and effort to get a proper fix on what age I actually feel I am inside.
Firstly, because – despite never having at any stage having regarded myself as remotely ‘good looking’ – I still don’t particularly like being remind of the fact, never mind that I accepted it and ‘got on with life’ long ago without thankfully having a phobia or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) about it.
This because (apart from anything else) there has always been absolutely zero I can do about it, so – as Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine used to say – “Why worry?”
Secondly, because whenever I do look in the mirror, the experience always shocks and disappoints me because – seriously – I don’t recognise the person looking back at me at all.
Or is that a case of “don’t want to accept that the person looking back at me is actually me as I am now?”
If it is, it’s probably because – of course – inside my default position is that I think I don’t look my age of 67.
I’m a realist, me. That dictates that I cannot pretend that I look or feel under the age of 40 – either to myself, or to anyone else.
So what age, then?
Before I grasp the nettle of replying to that query, let me register a couple of other thoughts or points.
The main thing is – and I’m having a great deal of trouble getting my head around this, I really am – I cannot for the life of me work out at all where my life between the ages of 40 and 60 went.
It’s as if one minute I was 40 [factually I became that in the autumn of 1991] … and then suddenly (“whoosh!”) – in an instant – I was coming up to my 61st birthday [six year ago].
I’m having issues attempting even the process of trying to remember things that happened in my life during this period. I mean, I’m sure I could do it if I tried, but at one and the same time I don’t want to, or possibly cannot be bothered.
What I do know is that period really flashed by.
And the depressing part about this is the possibility that the theory Time accelerates as you get older is actually correct. Which will mean that the next twenty years – i.e. until I’m 87 (if I live that long) will also go by ‘in a flash’ … and a quicker one that my life between 40 and 60 ever did!
Separately to all of the above, yesterday I came across a theory that doing sit-ups was not the best way to improve the definition of one’s stomach (actually in my case, that’s less of a ‘trying in vain to acquire a six pack ‘ issue than a “Can I possibly reduce the size of my beer belly?” one): in fact, it is actually bad for your back.
The Army has apparently dropped the (frequency and duration of performing ‘sit-ups’) event from its qualifying fitness test for this very reason.
As I hit the mat last night, therefore, I decided to try and do some ‘back flexibility’ exercises [my lower back being chronically stiff after 40 years of spending hours every day sitting at a computer desk], rather than attempt anything to do with my abs, and sit-ups in particular.
In a ‘zap’ of inspiration I remembered an exercise that we used to do at my secondary school in the gym – that of lying on your back on a mat, putting you legs back over your head almost until they touched the floor behind it, raising oneself on one’s elbows, supporting one’s hips with one’s hands, then raising one’s legs into the air and – as it were – then performing a ‘bicycling action’ for as long as one could.
Dear reader, I could not even get my legs up further ‘up and over’ my head than about 70%, in other words, less than perpendicular (which I think equates to 90%).
Thus there was never any chance of me managing to do any ‘overhead cycling’.
Ever since that realisation – after which I showered, got changed and came home last night to a large gin & tonic, a wonderfully-appetising meal and a couple of hours half-asleep in front of the telly – I have been feeling not just my age of 67 … but about 85.