Getting on with getting old: There's no fool like an old fool, but Eric Newman says it is possible to defy brain rot

BEING FIFTY or sixty- something, and suddenly out on your ear - or occupationally challenged, as the politically correct would have it - can be a daunting experience. But take heart, fellow sufferers. More famous men than us have enjoyed a comeback after being cut off in their prime (Napoleon) or having their prime cut off (Bobbitt).

The need now is to take stock of your new situation: what are your strengths, if any, and just how long is your list of weaknesses. Your wife will know, but you don't need to ask her - she'll be telling you quite frequently from now on anyway.

Let's begin with your physical appearance. The chances are that, given your seniority or length of service in your previous occupation, no one had the nerve to tell you what you actually looked like. You may well have done what most of us did: get stuck into whatever freebies were on offer, let yourself go, and finish up looking like Patrick Moore on a bad day.

So, now that you have plenty of time and nothing much else to do, why not try getting into a healthier state, for starters? There are some quite good incentives, such as avoiding coronaries and strokes. It couldn't be simpler: less of everything, to begin with. Then, some slightly more strenous exercise than you have been used to. The rewards could be worth it - revitalising your sex life, getting your gut back inside your trousers, living long enough to see most of your enemies dead, to name but a few.

Jogging not your style? Suffering from agoraphobia? Not good enough excuses, I'm afraid - not since they've come up with indoor exercise machinery. It is possible now to sit in your own lounge watching television or raunchy videos, and at the same time be rowing the equivalent of the Atlantic or cycling along with the Tour de France. And I'm not talking about any of this fancy virtual reality business, wearing a weird helmet and dubious glove - I'm talking hard, sweaty effort. An inventive friend of mine has even got his one-wheeled bike rigged up to produce electricity. Granted, it's hardly got the output of Niagara Falls, but he claims he can at least shave now without troubling the National Grid.

A course in self-improvement might also be a good idea. I know a healthy mind in a healthy body is a lot to ask at our age, but one out of two wouldn't be all bad. You could start with some mental gymnastics. A professor at Manchester University is conducting experiments, using the ageing likes of you and me, into what he calls 'brain rot' - defined as the rate at which we become more forgetful and generally slide downhill mentally.

Sadly, this brain shrinkage is irreversible at present, but it seems we can slow it down to some extent. 'Use it or lose it' applies upstairs as well as elsewhere; it requires more than just adding pages 2 and 4 of the Sun to your reading schedule. Try chess, crosswords or mastering any DSS document of more than seven lines.

Remember also that there's no fool like an old fool, so never admit that you are one. Do as Teresa Gorman did: lie. She knocked 10 years off her age to get into the Commons. Mind you, she also uses hormone replacement therapy to maintain this illusion and I am not at all sure what this does to the male form. Do let me know how you get on if you try it.

Set yourself targets. Use your imagination as a stimulus; the more outlandish the idea, the better. For instance, as soon as you have got yourself back into an acceptable condition for your age, you could enrol as a nude male model at your local art class ( pounds 5 an hour, but I found it draughty work). No need to worry about the odd wrinkle: they can add a welcome hint of experience.

Hobbies are another source of inspiration. Breeding things, except perhaps children, can be rewarding. But a word of warning: don't get too attached to whatever you are acting in loco parentis to. If someone wants to use your stick insects in the cause of science, then provided the price is right limit yourself to ensuring prompt delivery and leave it at that.

So take heart. Your second chance to really be somebody could still come.

Remember that at 62 Winston Churchill was still a washed-up has-been on the Commons back benches. You never know when the call to greatness may arrive.

(Photographs omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP SD OTC Consultant | 12Months

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP SD OTC Consultant | 12 Months | 500/...

Business Systems Analyst - London - £40,000 plus benefits

£35000 - £40000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Business Syst...

Campaign Manager

£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Campaign Man...

JQuery Developer (JQuery, C#, front-end, JQuery, UI, Tomcat)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organ...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil