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

 

Share
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory