New years like this one are often a time to look forward and, as I said to one of my grandchildren at Christmas, I’m planning to live to the ripe old age of 120. Actually, that’ll probably be an overripe old age.
When I said it some of the people in the room looked at me like I was daft but when you think about it there are a lot more 100-year-olds around than there used to be, and people living to 110 aren’t all that unusual, and so it’s only one small step for an old man, to misquote Neil Armstrong in 1969 when he stepped onto the moon, to skip from 110 to 120. That’s what I told everybody, anyway. By the time I’m 110 lots of clever people will have invented something (an app, probably, or whatever a future version of an app will look like) that just prolongs your life. I don’t want to live forever, obviously. 120 will do me. Or maybe 121 then I don’t just fade away on a round number.
Later this month I’ll be 68 years old which, given my self-projected lifespan, is only just over middle age. Rather than leaping speculatively in this column to the age of 120 which will take me to the momentous year of 2076, I think I’ll just advance gently, a decade at a time. Nice and easy does it. So in 2034 I’ll be 78 which these days isn’t ancient. Years ago it was really ancient, of course; when people round here worked in heavy industry it was unusual for men in particular to reach their late 70’s and if they did they walked very slowly and you could hear their chests heezing from half-a-dozen streets away. When I’m 78 I hope I’ll still be playing football with the grandkids in the garden despite people telling me not to be so daft. I’ll score the odd unexpected free kick, proving that you never lose it. Not that I ever had it, but I might get it with old age.
Now there’s a question: if, as I hope, I live to 120, when does old age start? At 78 I wouldn’t be old if 120 is going to be my final destination. I might have to start using that slightly demeaning phrase Extreme Old Age. Mind you, no; that would be 130. That really would be extreme.
In 2044 (and I realise I’m starting to sound like that old Zager and Evans song ‘In The Year 2525’ that for 67-and-a-lot year olds like me is a major part of their childhood) I’ll be 88. Old age? Maybe. Extreme old age? Not yet, sir, not yet. Maybe I won’t be playing as much football. Maybe my early strolls will be a bit slower. Maybe my glasses will be just that bit thicker. Or maybe not, of course; maybe medical science will have rushed forward to such an extent that 88 is the new 38. Maybe.
In 2054, which sounds like a time on a clock rather than a date, because it feels so remote, I’ll be 98. I’ll almost have clocked up a century. My late Mother in Law used to say that age is just a number, and I agree with that sentiment but you have to say that 98 is a heck of a number. 98 years, if you agree to forget the leap years, is 35, 770 days. At four cups of tea a day that’s 143,080 cups, enough to fill the pool at the Metrodome. If you have fish and chips once a week that’s 5096 lot of chips. Imagine them all piled up like a beautiful sculpture. Do you want them wrapped up? No, I’ll eat them here. Just give me a minute or two.
In 2064 I’ll be 108. I’ll be at the edges of the foothills of Extreme Old Age. My free kicks won’t be what they were and my early strolls might just be to the end of the garden and back, with an overnight stop in the shed. Barnsley will have won the Premier League, or whatever the equivalent of that is in 2064, and you’ll be able to get from Darfield to Thurnscoe in three seconds on the elevated monorail. Now I know I’m being daft; it’ll be ten seconds because of the congestion at Cathill Roundabout.
Then in 2074 I’ll be 118. Just two years to go before I reach my target. Watch this space to see how I get on…