Dating after 60
When I tell people I’m happy about this milestone they mostly reply with brave jocularity: “Life begins at 60! Sixty years is an exact measurement of how long I have been alive; like everyone born in the UK in 1959 I can name Babs from Pan’s People, I remember the excitement of the first Monty Python episodes, I did my homework by candlelight during the coal strikes, and I know how to address an envelope.These things are fundamental to the person I am now.The reason people produce these dud aphorisms is they are frightened of being 60 and are vainly trying to make it sound better.The FT columnist Camilla Cavendish has just written a book that sets out to dispel these fears.She and I spend our days doing much the same thing — trying to get teenagers excited about the sine rule and the division of labour.She has four years’ experience to my two, so she bails me out whenever I’ve forgotten to take the register or neglected to turn up for a detention I’ve set.The best news is Match doesn’t charge for searching or registering and flirting (e.g., liking profiles).I have a friend who is a fellow teacher at my school.
Some gerontologists have started to subdivide old into “Young-Old”, which runs from 60 to about 75 and bargains for activity, health and productivity, and “Old-Old”, which bargains for none of the above.
My life at 60 is not what I was expecting — nor what the Mayor of London can have expected when he popped a 60-plus card into the post for me, allowing me to travel around London for nothing.
Evidently he thinks that having reached this age I’m now too feeble and too impoverished to get from A to B unaided.
There is only one way in which life is going according to this plan. Life does not begin at 60; by definition it has been going on for an inordinately long time already.
I am seeing a great deal of my dentist — which was always on the cards for my seventh decade as both parents had shocking teeth, and the apple (which I probably never ate in sufficient quantity) doesn’t fall far from the tree. I am at the bottom of the career ladder, starting again professionally and, as it happens, romantically. The difficulty with this new phase is that we don’t have the vocabulary for it. And the idea that 60 could be “just” a number not only offends the maths teacher in me but is plain wrong.