Before my next column I will have passed my 70th birthday. I don't expect Arlene and Michelle to declare a public holiday but I think I deserve some credit for having got here in one piece from the middle of the 20th century. Others didn't so I must at least be credited with some luck.
I will now be an old man.
I don't feel like an old man. I have seen some people who are 20 years younger than me look more decrepit and I take heart that others, like Noam Chomsky, are still writing in their 90s. Mind you my 90s are only as far ahead of me as my 50s are behind me. And actually a lot closer because time speeds up as you age.
My 30s feels as if they are about five times as far behind me as my 50s. By that reckoning I should be 90 in what I will feel is about five years from now. Or I'll be dead.
For now I am a septuagenarian, or I will be in the next few days.
I like that word. I've been called worse.
But I think back on how I have responded to other old people in the past. We make extraordinary assumptions about them.
For instance, you - yes you! - are sitting watching television with your mother and a bouncy bit of explicit loving comes on and you are embarrassed for her.
Old people have to be spared clarity, frail creatures that they are and with such moral standards.
We presume that somehow they have less knowledge or interest in sex despite having had 50 years more experience of it.
Or that they have never had the same exposure to swearing that younger people have.
I do the same thing myself. My mother-in-law walks into the room just when I am colourfully fulminating and I stop, feeling that I am violating her pristine soul.
Part of the problem is that people who are old now were nearly all, when younger, diligent church goers and avid believers.
So we imagine them to retain a delicate sensibility.
We assume that their musical tastes are conservative, but if you are 70 today you can remember Mick Jagger writhing to Let's Spend The Night Together.
My own mother, who was older than me then but not old as I am now, once deflated my interest in contemporary culture by saying that she thought Yellow Submarine showed that the Beatles' work was all getting "a bit samey".
But in those days you understood that older people were out of touch.
That doesn't apply any more.
Besides, old people were older then.
There was a wee old woman, a widow, who used to visit my mother. I can't remember her name. But she wore black clothes and a wee hat with a veil.
She had a walking stick. Before hip replacements lots of old people had walking sticks.
I loved walking her home. There is some attraction that works between children and geriatrics. And I bravely asked her age.
She was 73.
That's three years older than I am now, or about six weeks, if you go by the theory of the subjective impression of time accelerating (SITA).
But, of course, none of us are as old now as we would have been in the past.
People live longer, especially if they live in nice middle class areas and don't smoke or sustain themselves with nightly pizza deliveries.
The older people that were around when I was young are different from the older people today. I was there; I should know.
They had been through the Second World War and saw my generation as soft and stupid because we had never had and never would have such a powerful formative experience.
Our fathers said things like, "Work! You don't know what a day's work is."
For a time I taught a night class in writing memoir at Queen's University. And you'd think - wouldn't you? - that I would have had regular stories from my writers about the Troubles.
No. The most common theme they wrote about for me was the awful fathers of that war generation.
We didn't know then what the shadow was from the past that darkened their moods but it's easy when you are older to do the sums and work it out.
The other assumption we make about old people is that they can't use computers. They don't know their way round the internet. They don't trust it anyway. I know people like that, who won't even use a mobile phone.
They have some sense that they are morally compromised by it.
To be honest, I have similar feelings about my new iPhone. It is so far ahead of any technology that I imagined when young that I almost wonder if I deserve it.
It connects to the Cloud so that wherever I go I can access all the files on my computer at home. It would be so useful if I was actually going out anywhere.
I could read the manuscript of my next book in a cafe. Don't worry about me. See me, see the internet? No problem.
I just dread the day when someone says, "I'll get back to you. Do you use email?"
Worse. Can you imagine being put in a fold or a nursing home?
"We only let him use his iPad for an hour a day, otherwise he gets over excited."
The thing that scares me about ageing is how protective people get towards the old.
They want to spare us from bad language, sex on TV and bewildering technology. In fairness, nobody is protecting me from anything, thank God. But I know that's ahead.
When I do reach decrepitude - and remember SITA, the subjective impression of time accelerating; (nobody warned you about that? I'm warning you - am I rambling?) then the whispering starts.
"Should we fetch a priest?" Absolutely not!
My father at this age would often say things like, "you have no idea how quickly time passes. You don't live forever."
And I thought that was cod philosophy and not the wisdom of the years, better advice than he had ever given me about anything else.
To be fair, he did think that leaving a job without having another one to go to was the stupidest thing a man could do.
But I don't think he was very good at being old. Some people aren't.
By then he should have been back in Donegal with a collie dog at his feet.
Me? Don't bother me. I'm online.