Simon Kelner: I'm feeling fair to middling about my middle years


Related Topics

I have the great good fortune of being able to walk to work through one of London's most beautiful parks. And at this time of the year, when the stirrings of spring are visible and tangible, it is a commute that can lift one's spirits, even if you're irritated that your iPhone has run out of battery again and you've just been ripped off by your builder/dentist/dry cleaner and your bank has mysteriously put a stop on your credit card and you can't get through to a human being to explain.

No matter. The daffodils are emboldened enough to reveal themselves, the snowdrops and the crocuses are putting on a show and, yesterday, I watched mesmerised as a soldier put a sheepdog, possibly a regimental mascot, through its paces. I arrived at work with... well, not exactly a song in my heart, but at least the faintest trace of a ditty. I was therefore in a good mood to receive the news, communicated by this headline in a rival publication: "Why middle-aged men are most miserable." This was a report of the findings from the ONS survey into national well-being which concluded that men between the ages of 45 and 49 are the least satisfied with their lives.

Now, I fall slightly outside this narrow age band (I'm afraid you'll have to guess on which side), but immediately my seasonally adjusted delight was dissipated. I have long believed the idea of mid-life crisis for men - anyone who knows me will understand that I am not qualified to talk about women - to be anything but a myth. Our best years are behind us, but we can't allow ourselves to acknowledge that. We're too young to retire and too old to get the good jobs. (Not that long ago, it would be highly unlikely that a new Prime Minister of Britain would be under 50; these days, it is impossible to believe someone could be PM for the first time over the age of 50.) We feel saddled with the weight of financial responsibilities but have job insecurity. We never had the benefit of a gap year and have that unsettling feeling that we've not experienced enough of the world. We have to reconcile the fact that professional sport is beyond us (although I haven't quite given up on the European golf tour). We can't drink like we used to. We don't carouse like we once did. Women don't find us attractive any more (although I accept that perhaps they never did). We don't sleep as well and we can't eat curries after dark for digestive reasons.

Not only all that, but, according to Cancer Research figures, cancer incidence among the middle-aged - of both sexes - have jumped by 20 per cent over the past decade.

It is small wonder, also, that suicide rates among middle-aged men continue to rise, in contrast to other age groups.

But there is solace in the ONS findings. The happiest demographic group is men between 65 and 69. We only have to get through middle-aged angst to reach a time when we don't have to worry about never playing for Manchester City or dating Kate Bosworth or proving that you can do your job just as well as someone half your age or railing against your declining powers.

You're an old geezer: just enjoy it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Theresa May was kept on as Home Secretary by David Cameron in his post-election Cabinet reshuffle (EPA)  

The Only Way is Ethics: Rights to privacy and free expression will always be at loggerheads

Will Gore
The handling of the tragic deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in 2006 by Thomas Cook was appalling  

Thomas Cook case was a failure of heart

Danny Rogers
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine