Fifty signs of getting older? They missed a few

The eyes get worse, but the television - in fact - is far, far better

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The Independent Online

It struck me quite forcibly the other night, the final, incontrovertible proof that I am now an old geezer.

I was out with friends in a nice restaurant, the drink was flowing (not for me: I have taken a vow of abstinence) and the conversation was engaging. I suddenly found myself wishing I was in my bed with a cup of peppermint tea and the cryptic crossword. Has it really come to this?

In times gone by, I would have suggested going on to a club, and then when that closed, another club. And then when that closed...I am sure you get the idea. My excitement about a night on the town was not knowing whether I'd wake up in Bow Street Police Station or Rio de Janeiro (although, as a friend pointed out helpfully, my evening Amol Rajan has never actually ended in either location). And now it's less about singing round the piano than working out whether 7 across is an anagram or not.

In terms of sharp reminders of the ageing process, all the stuff about complaining how teenagers speak, or finding yourself turning the dial to Radio 2, or taking an interest in gardening is nought compared with the fact that you believe your days as a roisterer may be over.

This subject is very much in the air following a survey by insurance company, who asked 2,000 people for their tell-tale signs of getting old. From this, they compiled a list of the top 50 indications, from “taking a keen interest in the Antiques Roadshow” to “Joining the National Trust”. I am not guilty on either count, and I found it hard to believe that, in the list of the 50 indications of age nobody mentioned their eyes.

First, it's not being able to read a menu without holding it at arm's length or bringing it to an inch in front of your nose. Then, it's succumbing to the fact that you do, in fact, need glasses. And then it's never being able to remember where you've put them. I suppose the final destination of this particular ocular journey is to get them on a string and hang them round your neck (no, not yet).

I was also surprised that “complaining about the rubbish on television these days” made it into the list. I cannot be alone in thinking precisely the opposite. We used to think Monty Python's Flying Circus was funny, or that The Onedin Line was the acme of television drama. Now, Amol Rajan as well as being able to watch what we like, when we like, we have infinitely superior shows - sharper satire, cutting-edge comedy, and dramatic works with the same production values as blockbuster movies. And what was this about “avoiding lifting heavy things for fear of a bad back”? I can't be the only man for whom this has been a constant for most of our lives.

 You don't have to be in your sixties, or even fifties, to have a phobia of the bin bag. Mostly, however, I see where they're coming from. Needing an afternoon nap? Tick. Hating noisy pubs? Another tick. Misplacing your keys? Double tick. But they didn't mention the most significant sign of getting older. It's when you notice how young editors are these days.