Jim Duffy: The seven top signs you are getting old

If you want to be like John Travolta on the dancefloor, you are probably old
If you want to be like John Travolta on the dancefloor, you are probably old
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The Age of Disco has actually ended, Jim Duffy finally discovers on a night out with his 19-year-old daughter.

When out for the evening in Edinburgh with my 19-year-old daughter, daddy was telling a story that sent her into fits of laughter. As we were chatting about dancing, I blurted out: “I guess that’s what happens at discos these days.” Well, one could have heard a pin drop in the restaurant as diners and staff stopped in their tracks, having heard a weird and anachronistic term – “disco”. As a few people quietly smirked, my daughter burst out laughing.

What had I missed, I asked. “Really dad! A disco?” Then the penny dropped. I was old. I suddenly had a flashback to my mum and dad who used to talk about the Barrowland Ballroom and how old I thought they were at the time as my generation talked about discos.

Then it made me think about things that in turn make you think you are old …

I think you know when you are old when you know how how make mince. If I asked ten teenagers how to make a good pot of mince, I bet they would have no clue. How to pick a good minced meat, how to brown the mince, straining off the fat (optional and always up for debate), adding Bisto or gravy, or jazzing things up with onion or peas so that a whole new world opens up. But alas, I feel you know you are old when the satisfaction of making a good pot of mince is as important as getting a good night’s sleep.

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Also, I think you know you are getting old when getting a good night’s sleep is tough and, therefore, coveted. I always believed that older people were prone to sleeping more and longer. This may indeed happen as we hit out seventies, but I’m afraid at the ripe old age of 50, it ain’t happening anytime soon. Waking up during the night is not ideal, but for some reason as I get older, it is becoming a regular nocturnal event. This appears to happen for two reasons. First, it’s because I now must visit the toilet at about 3am or 4am every night as my waterworks start to age. I guess it’s a bit like an old toilet cistern that has been in good functioning order for years. But, as it ages, the seals get a bit frayed and it starts to leak. Well, that seems to be happening to me. The surprising thing is, I chatted to some chums recently who are also in their fifties, and they laughed at me when I told then I have to pee far more often at night these days. Yeah! We were all suffering from leaky pipes. Second, I have no clue about this really but I just think it’s simply a matter of the ageing process. Sorry, I cannot offer any better explanation here.

Then there is the slam dunk that you know you are getting old – you would rather stay in than go out of an evening. Whether it is to the ballroom, the disco or the club, it’s just not for you any longer. The thought of dressing up and being sociable in a noisy bar no longer floats your boat. No, you’d rather cosy up with your pot of mince, a nice bottle of red wine and a dose of Eastenders or Vikings on Amazon. Perhaps catch up with some current affairs on the BBC iPlayer after your bath with lots of Radox. And, of course, a nice scented candle. Yes, the thought of going out these days sends shivers down your spine. And thank Heavens for central heating.

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You know you’re old when at least once a week you feel tearful or emotional at a headline in the news or when watching a movie that involves love, children or animals that have had a hard time. You get emotional watching the myriad of charity adverts on daytime TV, where either a dog has been maltreated and is shown malnourished or a child in Africa has to drink water from a dirty well. You never used to let these things bother you much, as you were tougher and more resilient. But, nowadays, something has melted in your heart and you care a bit more. Maybe that’s a good thing.

You know you’re old when you look at the current Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and think of Michael Foot. Yes, that dufflecoat-clad leader of the opposition, who just did not seem like a global asset to Great Britain and, perhaps for that reason, never attained the No 10 hotseat. Then you look at the current Prime Minister and wonder what on Earth is going on. It confuses you. It perplexes you. You feel slightly sorry for her and slightly worried for you and your family. But, you hope that it will all get fixed soon. Yes, the older you get, the more you see those who lead us as simply glove puppets who are there to make a name for themselves, while keeping a lid on public order and the economic pressure cooker that is national and global debt.

I could go on for pages here, but the other thing that diminishes as you get older is your capacity to focus for long periods of time. It can become tiresome. Reading a book can take weeks instead of a week. You’d rather pay someone to read complicated forms than do it yourself and the thought of taking an exam seems like a world away.

It’s okay to get old. But, it’s much more fun knowing that you are doing so, appreciating the changes and being able to chuckle about it.

I’ll think about you at 4am …