Whimpering into the night
Old age isn’t for wimps. Oh yes it is. Who else would put up with it? And it creeps up. First it’s the odd citizen who offers offers me a seat on the tube. Then hip pains mean I cut down on the running and increase the swimming. Then on a trek in the Himalaya the heart gives up and I spend ten days on a pony. From now on I will know all about the third flight of stairs.Then there is the prostate cancer. A month of treatment a cure.A life time of pills. Suddenly the talk is not of Arsenal,the World Cup or politics but of blood tests, cholesterol and whether to go private.
Life doesn’t get more exciting. There are more layers of hell to descend. In the twenty houses at the end of our road there are at least six people whose poor health means they are rarely if ever seen. I am living on Death Row.
And so onto the next instalment, the next indicator that I am trudging to the border from which there is no return.
Last week I went for my last swim of the year in the Serpentine. Dull and grey but what a man’s gotta do, a man’s gotta do.No Kuwaiti navy, no Saudi submarines on show. Instead I was sharing the 100 metre fresh water Lido with three amazons in their wet suits and googles. Big girls, hearty ladies, churning through the dark water. Whatever turns you on.
But for me, just my Bondi Icebreakers speedos. The water is 15C. Not freezing but by no means warm. After a couple of lengths I notice that the life guard is shadowing me. As I crawl along so he walks on the bank. At first I thought what a coincidence, he is probably a bit bored and walking up and down just to stay awake. No he is tracking me. I wave. He waves back.
Its too cold to do a1k so after 600metres I get out. I ask were you worried about me drowning? No, No,its just we had a bad case of hyperthermia on Monday, a man about your age came out of the water and just passed out. We are a bit on edge.
A man about my age. I’m dying in a mask of youth,Help me.
Well don’t worry. I’m OK,and this is my last outdoor swim of the year. See you next year. As I change I notice my hands are blue.
Another milestone passed on the way to that final swim across Styx. At least they don’t have life guards there, or maybe health and safety will have got to Hades by the time I make that final dip.