On reaching sixty

I don’t want to risk overdoing my reaching this landmark age, but equally wanted to give a brief reflection. I was really glad to celebrate with you all but need to apologise that the 10.00 congregation ended up singing Happy Birthday twice.

Someone asked Joanna how I am coping. She said the real question is ‘how am I coping being married to a sixty year old?!’ Perceptions. However much I may be reassured 60 is the modern equivalent of 50, I’m still 60 and for many young people (and my wife) that’s – OLD. I can get my free travel card and accept gratefully when people offer me a seat (some hope!)

How we perceive ourselves can be interesting – and instructive. Each year I think I feel a little less self conscious. ‘Growing old’ well, is about accepting life as it actually is and ‘befriending’ death.

I’ve learnt a lot from the books by Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time. Our lives intersect with a relatively small number of people – things change, we and they change and we clock back in. The birthday card the Ardrons gave me was inspired. It’s of a tractor in 1960 going into a church. Amazingly, the photo is of the very church where I was living at the time (Harvest included having a tractor in church.) I then recognised the unmistakable back view of Mick Sinclair, the farmer at the wheel. When we moved house in 1968, he became our neighbour. Time coming round again ‐ a picture, ‘on being 60’.

TOM GILLUM