‘When You’re Sixty Four’…dum-de-dum…

I’m about to be 64. ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, the song was written by Paul McCartney when he was sixteen-an age at which you could never imagine becoming sixty four and at which you would think it to be a very old age to be.

Like everyone says, most days my body does feel ancient, but inside my head I don’t feel much different, or old. Every day some part of me aches or feels stiff. I forget things. Words escape me. I’m not au fé with some of the more contemporary aspects of technology [I can’t tell my mega-bytes from my giga-bytes]. Some of the ‘classic’ acts at Glastonbury seem newbies to me.

But I keep abreast of current affairs, I like to try new things and I know it’s best to keep moving regardless of what hurts.

I’ve just reached another age threshold by officially becoming a state pensioner. I’m one of those women whose birthday falls between two dates that have been used to equalise the genders so that men’s and women’s retirement ages are the same. Fair enough. I’ve no quibbles with it. But most delayed pension age women are upset not to have been informed sooner [not until a year before the previous state pension age [60]]. I’ve been fortunate to have paid into an occupational pension scheme, but for many of those who have not there was no time to plan for a later retirement date and many have suffered huge financial losses [with the loss of their home for some] due to the lack of warning.

I’m also about to apply for that Holy Grail of retirement benefits- a bus pass. For the last few years I’ve been trailing behind Husband as he hops on to the bus, flicks his pass on to the scanner and slides into a seat while I scrabble for change or apologise for presenting a note. There have been times when I’ve been the only fully-paid-up passenger on a bus.

I’m also being offered a winter fuel payment and have received a [so far] small amount of state pension payment-at the same time as the announcement that due to a tax adjustment my occupational pension is reduced.

We are constantly being reminded that we have an obligation to keep ourselves healthy; to eat a sensible diet, not over-indulge, not imbibe an excess of alcohol, count steps, not have sugar, do this, don’t do that. Nobody can argue that we should not over-burden our already beleaguered and precious health service.

What a pity, then that three appointments I’ve had to have a scan on a relatively minor problem in my foot have been cancelled because I ‘don’t meet the criteria’ for help. Were the problem to be sorted I could get back to doing my thousands of steps, exercising and doing my bit to keep out of hospital wards and GP surgeries.

Sixty-four eh? However did that manage to creep up on me?

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Hello? OK-can we Take a Break now?

                In my semi-conscious, post celebratory state I felt I must be hallucinating. Each time I turned on a screen to attempt to catch up on current affairs, the same, confusing, surreal images and words flooded the waves, hour in, hour out in a relentless deluge. Babies. Crowds. Photographers. The news was…no news. She was in labour. She was still in labour. She went into labour on Monday morning. There was still no news. Would it be a girl? Would it be something else?

                After what seemed like days [no doubt the Duchess herself felt it to be so], the announcement of the baby’s arrival was made, taking up hours more of the news broadcasts. Then there was more speculation-when would she be leaving the hospital? The massed ranks of reporters and photographers were in a frenzy of feverish speculation and excitement. Clearly nothing else had occurred in the world since Kate went in to pop out a sprog. I presume the loyalist, ‘Hello’ reading nation took a day off, stayed indoors, drew the curtains and glued themselves to their screen while they waited, breath baited for the thrilling moment when the Cambridges would emerge with their offspring.

                At long last, and I’m guessing after having been groomed, styled, primped, made up and dressed by a post-partum designer, the Duchess and husband appeared with their wrapped bundle of baby-a tiny, screwed up face in a swathe of blankets. There were a few, bland remarks about parenthood-then they were off in their swanky Range Rover [or something], driven by someone.

                The next round of intense build-up concerned the name [much exploited by the turf accountants of this world]. Charles was favourite-then James-then…

                Then all was quiet, except, perhaps in the Cambridge household.

                I suppose the Royals must generate an amount of tourist income. Other than that there seems little purpose, especially for the periphery-the ‘hangers on’; the likes of Charles and Camilla, Andrew [who, under his designation of ‘trade ambassador’ appears to do little except to play in a middle Eastern playboys’ playground involving some unsavoury entertainment with young girls]. In the meantime, we, the proletariat fund it all through tax. If this sounds mean spirited, I make no excuse-I feel mean about it.

                I am sure the Queen herself feels she has served the nation, and in her own way she has. And yes, a lot of people feel affection for her and her batty, eccentric husband. Perhaps it is all part of their appeal. But their upkeep is all monstrously expensive. I wonder if the return justifies the expense? Answers on a postcard please…or in the comments?