TODAY I am 60.
There are restaurants out there that will offer me cheap meals.
In some places in the world I can get into movies for half price, or pay less on the buses.
I’m thinking of suing.
I demand the right to pay full price! I demand the right to be treated as a real person; to be not patronised by slips of girls in shops who call me dear; and to cut my own toe nails!
It’s plain ageism, is what it is, and there’s a law against it. I had less money when I was 25 but no one offered me cut-price haircuts then, when I would have been really grateful.
How dare the rest of the world decide I have now joined the ranks of the underprivileged! No doubt it’s all done in a spirit of philanthropic benevolence, but they’re not giving me anything really! They’re stealing bits!
My self-confidence, for a start. It only takes so many people to say you look ill before you begin to feel ill. But I am still a man of passion and vitality!
I can still take the stairs two at a time. Yes, well… sometimes I stub my toe on the second one and break my teeth on the treads above. My false teeth. But most of the time I can manage two.
But not this morning. This morning the essential me abandoned ship, apparently. I am a ghost vessel, without crew or steerage, shuffling aimlessly from cheap movies to seniors’ meals with 15 per cent off. My wife is calling me grandad. She used to feed me oysters because they were good for my libido; now she feeds me soup because it’s good for my gums.
My son-in-law is beating me to the ladder in case I break my neck. We’re hanging a picture, for God’s sake! They used to let me do it by myself.
And look, I know there’s no escape. I know one day I will have to face the final indignity of someone else cutting my toenails – but it’s not now. I know I’ll be grateful one day when someone calls me granddad because it will mean I have not been entirely forgotten as I dribble into my lap in the armchair in the corner – but it’s not now!
I still speak the language of the young. Fab and brill are words that roll off my tongue as easily now as they did 40 years ago. I am a groovy dresser. Well, except for the slippers – but I didn’t buy them. They were a present from my wife, who is part of the conspiracy.
I don’t look at girls in shops and wish I were 30 years younger. I can manage now, as I am! I can still sweep a girl off her feet – if there’s no stairs involved; or if I take them one at a time, just to be on the safe side.
So, no offence, but I’ll keep paying the going rate. That way they’ll get to keep their profit margins and I’ll get to keep my dignity and no-one will feel they’ve been short-changed.