There seems no trick to a degree of longevity – and I expect to be here to trouble people for a long time yet – and what you learn is good genes and good luck can take you a long way….
My wife – who is many years younger than me – and I have no great plan for the next few decades, we have no fall-back savings or inherited wealth, but I also don't expect the government can or will be of much help.
I take issue with the idea prevalent among many of my peers that because I paid my taxes for all those decades I will be entitled to, of right, exceptional hospital care and so on.
Those taxes I had gouged out of me weren't put under a big mattress waiting for me to come along and claim my share back. They paid for the roads and infrastructure I have enjoyed all my life. They paid for the wards that were built, the equipment in them and the salaries of those fine people who staff our schools, universities, technical institutes and hospitals. The money I paid in has long gone. What I pay in now is providing for others of my age – and older and younger – who are less fortunate than me. I don't mind that, that is what being a citizen is all about.
Those people born to the soundtrack of Madonna and Mariah however are the ones who are going to have to cough up to keep me breathing or wheezing when my time comes.
I feel sorry for them. There were a million fewer people in this country when they were born, and my generation is hanging around, many of us not working but also not slowing down.
I am slowing a little though. I sleep more – and less – than I ever did.
Since becoming a freelance writer seven years ago I have worked from home. That has meant I start early and by about 2pm I am done. Then I have something to eat, lie on the couch and read a book or watch a DVD… and invariably nod off for about 20 minutes. I like it and recently I read some research which found an afternoon nap can prolong your life. Sorry, young 'uns,...
My dad used to do the napping too at this age. Come home at lunchtime from work, lie in the sun and snooze off to With the Beatles and Louis Armstrong's Hello Dolly albums on the radiogram. He also didn't sleep much at night and old folk have warned me of this consequence of getting on a bit. I am now warning young folk.
No matter what time I go to bed – usually 11pm or later – I am awake at 5.30, the brain is ticking, the ideas and words flowing and falling into place, so I get up and make tea, and start my day before the Herald arrives. Just an energy/time shift thing. I quite like it. I feel very productive.
So not much has really changed since I qualified for Senior Discount – why it seems just yesterday I was asking for Student Discount – although I will be a little wary of picking up my Gold Card in a few years, if it still exists. I'll then feel Officially Old, although I expect to still be working as I am now.
We have a lucky life. We travel as often as we can afford it, go to restaurants and bars with friends, and every now and again I see bands play… although that standing around for three hours until midnight before some young group comes on, as I used to do a few years ago, has long since passed.
We watch television and I guess that is where things have changed markedly.
Our appointment viewing – in truth, we record on MySky and watch when it suits us, a time/energy shift thing – include The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife and the neo-Western Justified. (Of course Justified, the film I have seen most is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and I can quote large chunks of Clint Eastwood's dialogue at length. Not a skill much in demand I have to say.)
But we also watch – and this would never have happened a decade ago – Grand Designs and Great British Menu. We haven't quite made the move to Antiques Roadshow yet. So the other night when we went to the movies it wasn't to see some delicate foreign film, one of those charmingly Irish thing involving quirky old people and quaint village life, or something about risque seniors which seem so appealing to Gold Card folks.
We went to see the blockbuster “prequel” (a word I remember being invented in the early 70s) The Rise of Planet of the Apes. I was the youngest in the cinema by about 20 years . . . and I loved it. That fact, and the movie.
Graham Reid has a wind-up gramophone but also hosts the elaborate music.arts.travel website www.elsewhere.co.nz where Kiwi boomers can hear everything from obscure rock'n'roll and lost Sixties classics to contemporary music. Every day he pulls some strange or interesting music track “from the vaults”.