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Why 75 no longer feels like 75
And why age doesn’t really matter these days
I can’t remember exactly what my mother was like at 75. She would come to visit from time to time, arriving off the train at St Albans in her sensible shoes and navy skirt, heading back as soon as she decently could the same day. We were all on best behaviour, not something our family is very good at. It wasn’t a lot of fun for any of us, my mother included
Now I’ve hit 75 myself I have more sympathy with how she must have felt. Ill at ease with a daughter whose lifestyle was so different from her own.
So I’ve been asking myself this week why 75 today feels so different from 75 then, and since there was an unprecedented (for me) amount of interest in the post I put on instagram I thought I’d share a few thoughts as to why, purely from my own perspective.
I still work - and am lucky enough to do a job I love. I mean who wouldn’t want to write about food and wine for a living? It also opens the door to travelling to other countries which is the kind of thing I’d do anyway if I was retired.
Along with most other baby boomers I have a very different relationship with my children. I wouldn’t claim I was a particularly conscientious parent or step-parent. I’m certainly a lamentably bad granny, unlike many of my contemporaries rarely available for babysitting duties, but I love my kids and tell them so (which was rare in my day), accept them for who they are and try to support them in what they do. We have conversations I would never have had my mum
On a similar theme I have a lot of younger friends - many the same age as my children. I definitely think that helps.
I live in Bristol which, as those of you who know the city I’m sure will agree, is a thoroughly laid back place in which you are positively encouraged to disregard your age. (Easier in a town than a village, I suspect)
I’ve learnt to be comfortable with my own company. That’s taken time. When my husband died almost 8 years ago it was the first time I’d ever lived on my own. Up to then there had always been parents, partners and children. It’s hard, it can be lonely, but if you embrace the freedom if gives you can have some wonderful experiences as I wrote in this post on travelling on your own.
I also have a boyfriend if you can call a man in his seventies a boyfriend. . Don’t think I really need to go into that but I suspect it’s a factor in not feeling my age 😉
I’m curious - as in interested in everything rather than odd (at least I hope not the latter). I just like to know stuff which I guess goes with being a journalist. I go in for serial enthusiasms. Making playlists. Rummaging in harity shops. Natural wine. Podcasts (rather than box sets. I’d rather read than watch the telly.)
I don’t sweat the small stuff. By which I mean I don’t get overly anxious about the minor irritations of life apart from the things that drive us all nuts like dealing with Ryanair or resetting passwords. But I try not to worry about things that may not happen and which I can’t control.
I’m lucky enough to be healthy. I have to take meds for high blood pressure - a lot of people my age do - but I don’t have a chronic long term illness. So far as I know. But again, I’m not going to worry about the possibility that I might.
So there you have it. Of these I suspect work, being open-minded and the company of younger friends are the most important and the ones others of you heading into your sixties and seventies might embrace too.
Not everyone can be a food and drink writer, of course, but finding something you love and doing it with passion and energy is the key to ageing well, I think. Making friends with people of all ages.
And if you’re a younger person reading this maybe even befriend someone of your parents or grandparents’ age, if you haven’t already done so.
You might make a lifelong friend.
Do tell me your thoughts on ageing. I’d love to know.
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