Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Will Gather I Am Approaching One of Life's Significant Milestones. A Bus Pass Beckons. Toon and Country

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Will Gather I Am Approaching One of Life's Significant Milestones. A Bus Pass Beckons. Toon and Country

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

SOMEWHERE a mobile phone was ringing. I hurtled around the living room trying to detect the bleeping thing, sending cushions and newspapers flying as I charged about like a wounded elephant.

At last I found it, beneath the television table. "Flippin' kids and their mobiles," I hissed as I stabbed what I thought was the "answer" button.

"Hello? Who's calling?" No reply. I raised my voice to a gruff bark.

"Hello! Who do you want?" Still nothing. I shook the handset in annoyance and glared at my son who was now standing, bemused, in the doorway.

"This'll be one of your friends playing silly sods!" I roared. "I suppose this is your mobile that was ringing?"

"Actually, dad," said my son, calmly removing the appliance from my hand as though he were disarming a homicidal maniac, "this not a phone, it's the TV channel changer".

I stared balefully at the rectangular box covered in number keys. "But it was ringing," I pleaded. "A kind of buzz-buzz noise. I heard it."

"No," explained my son patiently, as if he were killing time until the ambulance arrived, "that was the alarm on the oven timer. I just switched it off."

From which you will gather that I am approaching one of life's significant milestones. A bus pass beckons; smiling young women already give up their seats for me, fearful lest I fall. A child in his 30s recently called me "sir".

Worse still, I now shun pubs with tuxedoclad bouncers on the door. I have begun reading the warnings on medicine bottles. I am lost without at least three pairs of spectacles. Life is at a crossroads. Nonetheless, I comfort myself with the thought that I am in fine company: in the past week I have helped friends celebrate two sixtieths and two seventieths, not least among them The Byreman who bid goodbye to his 60s with a no-holds-barred bash at a pub in Lauder called, appropriately, the Black Bull. …

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