Something strange is happening to me this weekend. I’m going to become a fifty year old. I’ve never been one of those before, so it will be an interesting experience. Happily this momentous occasion will be shared with a number of my nearest and dearest, which should lessen the shock considerably. As will the inevitable Pinot Grigio and full on headbang to Gudbye T’Jane by Slade.
Fifty sounds so much more middle aged than forty did this time ten years ago. Thing is, the logical bit of my brain keeps chipping in to remind me that it’s pretty darn likely I’m now, in harsh reality, past my most-statistically-likely, median age. Crumbs.
So, all the more reason to rejoice in why it’s so much more fun to be fifty in the twenty-first century than it was to be fifty in the twentieth. For a start, we in the privileged First World are exponentially more likely to reach that satisfyingly round number, what with the arrival of routine inoculations, huge medical advances, better access to adequate and nutritious food (though whether many of us are eating more healthily by choice is debatable) and notwithstanding two world wars that decimated populations of young men (and women) for whom warfare was not a career choice.
Plus, I am blessed to be living in one of the safest parts of one of the safest countries on the planet. Now that truly is something to be grateful for.
Double-Plus, a dear friend and I decided, at her fiftieth birthday party in November, that we shall be viewing fifty as the New Twelve, and here’s why:
- Twelve year-olds have a whole life time of discovery and self-reinvention ahead of them. As a First Time Twelve I was so busy trying to blend in that I didn’t realise how much potential I had to be uniquely me. Boring, boring, boring…. Now that I don’t have so many hang-ups about what other people think, I can have much more fun.
- Twelve year olds get unparalleled access to all the great facilities that school gives them – even though they rarely appreciate it at the time. What wouldn’t I give to spend my working hours in those art rooms, science labs, PE facilities and music rooms, with free tuition thrown in? School is wasted on the young. As a New Twelve I shall be making the most of every opportunity to learn something for nothing. Museums and books are a great start. As well as Professor Brian Cox on telly.
- As a First Time Twelve I was constantly worried about having a nuclear bomb dropped on our house by the Russians. I was also genuinely terrified that someone was going to kidnap me, because I had just discovered newspapers and they were full of the unfolding tragedy of Lesley Whittle. As a born again Twelve I shall take with me the wisdom of my underlying fifty year old, and realise that worrying about bad stuff won’t make it go away. I shall take control of my own circumstances as far as I can, and try to make things better for other people where I can. Beyond that, life (as we know) will always turn up with something unwelcome and unexpected. Unless I am doing something positive to combat it (eating sensibly to avoid bad health, planning for my old age, raising money for an important cause), just sitting there worrying won’t achieve diddly squat. As a New Twelve I shall be far more pragmatic.
- As a First Time Twelve I was discovering music that would become a friend for life. Hands up if you remember seeing Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody on Top of the Pops, the year I was twelve? We talked about nothing else at school the next day. As a New Twelve I promise to
NEVERtry very hard not to become one of the ‘but you can’t understand what they’re singing about!’ brigade. I shall keep my ears young and my mind open. And that’s not just about music either.
And so, onward to the new half century! I reckon Twelve Year Old Me is going to enjoy this.