Ken Jones: How the old man in the mirror can keep you young
Thursday 30 December 2004
I woke up Tuesday morning and went to look in the mirror. The guy in there was having an anniversary, I won't tell you which one. Suffice it to say, he's much older than I.
I check on him every 10 years or so. I can't seem to get rid of him. He keeps getting older while it's well known that I'm growing younger. I'm somewhere between 30 and 35. He's God-knows-what.
He's got these pouches under his eyes. His skin is kind of blotchy. God knows, my skin is clear.
He's always getting heartburn, while it's well known I can work my way through a hot curry and polish it off with a flagon of Rioja and not even belch. His hair is grey and thinning while mine is full and as dark as Tiger Woods's. He's always trying to get me to go to bed early, but I fool him. I stay up clear through the 10 o'clock news some nights.
He uses a seven wood for an approach shot to the green. I, on the other hand, choke down on a wedge. He creaks when he walks. I cross the room like a panther. I notice he's put on some weight, but I could still get into my wedding suit. He can't even putt. Me, I'm deadly from 40 feet.
I keep young. You never hear me, when Thierry Henry skates past a defender, say, "Stan Matthews would have dribbled all the way through." When a goalkeeper makes a leaping catch, I never say, "Gordon Banks would have been waiting for it." I don't look at Jonny Wilkinson and say, "Barry John would have left him for dead." The fellow in the mirror lives in the past. I don't. I have to throttle him to keep him from saying to Andrew Flintoff, "You're not a patch on Keith Miller." You date yourself with that kind of talk. This fellow actually boasts he saw Don Bradman bat. Personally, I like to ask people if there really was a Don Bradman - or is he, like Santa Claus, a grown-ups' lie?
He's always complaining that the nights are darker than they used to be and he wonders why everybody has started to whisper and not speak up like they used to do. He has the TV on so loud you can hardly hear yourself drink. Personally, I can hear snow falling. Or a fox crossing the garden. Twenty yards away.
He listens to Bryn Terfel. He wears ties. I'm into clubbing, myself. I wear gold chains and none of my shirts button.
He's always going through the dictionary. I could write one. I remember every word ever written. He's always wondering how to spell "obsolescent." I can spell it in Finnish.
He tries to tell me to be my age. I tell him to shut up and get me a motorcycle for Christmas. He tells me not to be in a hurry to take the Christmas tree down, it may be the last one I'll ever have. With a friend like that who needs enemies? His teeth are bothering him. I eat corn on the cob just to annoy him.
I caught him reading the obituary page once and I yelled at him, "If I ever catch you reading that page again, you'll be in it."
I'm all for friendly discussion. He loves an argument. Compare the present Real Madrid favourably with that of Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento, and he throws a tantrum. I put David Beckham in world class, while he thinks the England captain is overrated, short on pace and trickery. I give Ricky Hatton better than an outside chance against Kostya Tszyu if they meet for the International Boxing Federation light-welterweight title. He thinks the Mancunian would get a battering. I think the Premiership is the best league in the world. He thinks that there are only a half-dozen teams worth watching.
Recently, a friend sent me a note for him. It's perfect for him.
"You know you're getting old," it reads, "when the following happens:
1) Almost everything hurts - what doesn't hurt doesn't work anymore.
2) It feels like the morning after the night before - but you haven't been anywhere.
3) Alan Shearer plans his retirement.
4) You're 16 around the neck, 36 around the waist, and 126 around the golf course.
5) You can remember seeing Jimmy Greaves make his league debut and Denis Compton batting for England.
6) You sink your teeth into a steak. And they stay there.
7) An elderly lady has to help you across the street. She's your wife."
Well those are his problems. To tell you the truth, he keeps me young. Whatever he tells me to do, I do the opposite.
If he says go to bed, I head for the West End. If he says to write something nice about the Football Association - or the Premiership, or the England and Wales Cricket Board - I tear into them. If this old geezer thinks he owns me, he's got another thing coming.
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