Now that I’m older, lost all my hair many years ago,
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
Birthday greeting, bottle of wine?
If I nod off at a quarter three, slippers on the floor,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
Now I’m sixty four?
If the Beatles idea of old age is right I have today become a Crotchety Old Man. It seems like only yesterday that I stopped being a schoolboy and was magically transformed into something quite different – a college student. Suddenly, instead of teachers bellowing “Stop running, boy!” there were lecturers doing their best to treat us all as more or less mature adults. It was an interesting transition.
What else has changed over the intervening 45 years? I’ve written software for a number of different employers and even run my own tiny software company for a while. I’ve worked in several UK cities (Reading, Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds), ping-ponging north and south with every change of job. A few girlfriends drifted in and out of my social circle. I studied with the Open University for a couple of years, did a little charity work and indulged in the odd hobby (the board game Diplomacy being the oddest).
All that is behind me now.
Change comes slowly but, sooner or later, it affects every part of our lives. As a young man I felt strong and very much alive, a prime example of the human species should an alien wish to study it. Now, I fear, my body would be more likely to be dunked in formalin and housed in the dark, dusty stockrooms of E.T.’s museum than proudly displayed in a glass case for every many-tentacled visitor to see. My mind, though, is in better shape. I can still spot a politician’s ruse at a thousand paces and I can even do cryptic crossword clues most of the time.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my taste in music. The records I played as a boy and a student still give me pleasure. The songs that dazzled like the sun in my youth don’t shine quite so brightly any more but, now that the glare has gone, I can see the softer songlight of the moon and the stars, and that’s beautiful, too. It doesn’t have to be progressive rock to be worth listening to; it doesn’t have to have screaming guitars to be exciting.
I suppose you could say I have mellowed. When the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 I couldn’t have predicted what I’d be listening to in 2016. Back then old people only listened to classical music or dance bands and sixty four was undoubtedly a ripe old age. I’d probably have Beethoven and Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn in my record collection, or perhaps a small stack of clarinet concertos. Come to think of it, When I’m Sixty Four would sit quite comfortably in the section labelled ‘Clarinet Trios’.
YouTube: Splendid cover by a male voice choir (but no clarinets).