It's the little things you notice. Like the dead badger hanging from a tree

I must be getting old. When I sit down I make this curious groan that no one ever remarks upon but I know they've heard it

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I'm definitely getting old. I've started tapping my wife on the shoulder to get her to look at some particularly exquisite blossom or an oddly shaped tree or, as was the case yesterday, the carcass of an enormous dead badger hanging from a rope over the footpath in Carter Woods. I can only presume that the final legal decision over the public rights of way battle has gone the wrong way - in the farmer's eyes.

I'm definitely getting old. I've started tapping my wife on the shoulder to get her to look at some particularly exquisite blossom or an oddly shaped tree or, as was the case yesterday, the carcass of an enormous dead badger hanging from a rope over the footpath in Carter Woods. I can only presume that the final legal decision over the public rights of way battle has gone the wrong way - in the farmer's eyes.

You've got to learn to read the signs in the country. If friends come down to stay from the big city I try to impress them with my deep knowledge of the countryside. This actually happens less and less nowadays as we retreat into an almost hermetic world of walks and children. People visiting just means mess and more work or even, God forbid, conversation, and we don't want any of that, thank you very much.

If pushed, I can point out blossom, bluebells and daffodils. All of these things are out about now and are dead in a couple of weeks. For the other 50 weeks of the year I just say things like: "Look, a river", or "Trees", or even "Another dry-stone wall has collapsed on a child. Why don't they just embrace progress and use cement?" No one has yet suggested I use my in-depth knowledge of the countryside to make a TV programme, but it can only be a matter of time. I bet John Craven now wakes up every morning in a cold sweat.

Another reason I know I'm getting old is that my wife and I have started making strange noises that frighten the children. I have begun to make weird old-man noises. Whenever I sit down I make this curious little groan under my breath that no one ever remarks upon but I know they've heard it. I also make odd little grunts when I get up, finish food, close the gates and bend down to feed the dog. I've tried stopping but it seems to be out of my control. It surely can't be long before I'm sitting on benches grunting to myself as people walk past trying not to look my way. Might be quite fun, actually. I'll try it tomorrow in Cirencester and see if I can freak out the Harold Shipman look-alikes, whose numbers seem to be growing at an almost epidemic rate.

I would take my wife with me but she has her own issues. Encroaching old age has played a cruel trick on her. She has started doing involuntary sound effects. If we are in the car together and I'm driving she will make screeching sounds as we go round every bend and do a braking grunt if I come to a stop. She's started to be a bit like that weird bloke in Police Academy who made all sorts of amusing sounds to freak people out. I think she does it in an attempt to conceal her embarrassment. The problem is that she seems to find life with me a constant embarrassment, so the sound effects are increasing.

Yesterday we were in Waitrose early to get at the celery before Liz Hurley cleared the shelves. We were waiting in the queue at the deli counter to get a roast chicken when Stacey started to mimic the next customer bell. I don't think she realised that she was doing it but when she started to do a chicken I wandered off and spent the rest of the shop near mute objects like avocados which are difficult to mimic.

God, did she have fun at the check-out, all beeping and ringing. I went and sat in the car. We screeched all the way home, as I pointed out some interesting ivy and tut-tutted at some litter by the side of the road. I even found myself looking at a golf course as we drove past thinking that I should give that a go some day; looks like great fun.

I think I need a mid-life crisis. I might dye my hair and start wearing tracksuits in the afternoon. The only problem is that I would fit right into Cirencester life that way. Anyway, must go. I can hear the sound of mooing downstairs. It's only Stacey in the kitchen. I think we're having beef. I wonder what breed. I must go and look it up.

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