Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

It’s really hard work trying to have the best time of my life

I'm in heaven. Everything's all right with my world.

I'm mellow, man. I've reached the age where you might as well just chill out. Reader: “What age is that then, big nose?” Mind your own business, if you're being specific. Let us just say it's between 50 and 53, with a slight tilt towards the latter.

The hottest news off the press is that life is at its best after 50. I cannot see it myself, but then I was always a glass half-empty sort of bloke. In fact, since I've been off the drink for 15 and a half days as I write, I'm pretty much a glass totally empty sort of bloke at the moment.

Funnily enough, or otherwise, another recent study claimed that the optimum age for happiness was 74, which probably has something to do with having finally given up on trying to understand the opposite sex.

But it's also something to do with not striving any more, not giving a hoot or getting stressed because, ultimately, nothing really matters.

The bad news is you don't get to put your feet up. Keeping active is evidently the key to remaining positive, if that sort of thing is important to you.

But, after 50, apparently, you also have more emotional control and recall fewer bad memories.

Variables such as children and job or joblessness have no bearing, according to the researchers, who are surely bilingual, with their second language being cack.

For this canard about the over-50s must surely carry the qualification, “all other things being equal”. It isn't much fun if you lose your job and your relationship breaks down, two phenomena quite common for folk in their fifties.

That said, I suppose one can deal with them better, since it may not have been the first time something of that nature or similarly calamitous has happened in your life. Easy come, easy go. This is identified in the study as “wisdom”, which may be defined as a tendency to avoid acting daft.

With the exception of the reality of Lord of the Rings, most of the things I believed in during my youth were daft. And most of the things I did were daft.

But one of the things I never did was exercise. Now, in my fifties, I attend four physically demanding classes a week and go to the gym twice. That said, only one person in any of the classes is my age. Everyone else is, on average, 20 to 25 years younger.

Is it doing me any good? Well, put it this way:no.

Recently, I'd to see a physiotherapist — one of the excellent effects of doing a lot of hard exercise is that you regularly pick up injuries — and she was distinctly unimpressed by my posture, shape and physique.

I said to her: “Well, what's the point of me doing all these exercises and classes then?”

Quoth she: “You'd be in an even worse state if you didn't.” Me: “So, effectively, I'm running to stand still?” She (breezily): “Yes, that's right.”

Luckily, I had the 50-plus wisdom to take this bombshell news on the chin.

Indeed, the memory of the exchange is fading already. And I feel I can positively say: “Ah, what the hell. Nothing really matters.”

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