Once you sail past a certain age, gentle and not-so-gentle reminders of mortality seem to come at you with increasing frequency.
I think it was Mark Twain who said his normal practice was to wait in bed his daily newspaper arrived each morning, whereupon he’d flick to the obituary column and – if he wasn’t listed in it – he’d get up.
This morning I was sipping a cup of black coffee and reading my copy of The Times when I came upon the leading articles and ‘Letters to the Editor’ double-page spread. On the former, there was a list of today’s birthdays.
It made for sobering reading.
Mike Gibson – the Mike Gibson, legendary Irish international rugby player – is 71 today. I repeat, 71!
Actress Daryl Hannah – she of the statuesque limbs, long blonde hair and mermaid’s tail – is 53 today. Fifty-bloody-three! I used to fantasise about her when I was practically her age, but now I’m nine years older than her and that probably makes me a dirty old man.
Franz Klammer – the skier who, against all the odds, from fifteenth and last seeded position, simply ‘went for it’ at Innsbruck in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games to win the downhill golf medal – is 60.
Folk singer (remember Streets of London?) Ralph McTell is 69.
Ozzy Osbourne is 69.
Katarina Witt, the stunning figure skater originally from East Germany who won Olympic gold at both Sarajevo in 1984 and Calgary in 1988, and who posed for Playboy in December 1998 (only the second edition of Playboy ever to sell out), is 48. How can that possibly be?
As I said, reminders of the passing years keep coming back to haunt you.
How can all these people be getting so old, when I am still only … er … well, hang on …