Suddenly, the wolves are encircling my cosy little encampment once again.

This is because another big birthday has arrived and a number of agencies want a piece of the action. First out of the blocks was the heart specialist, who sent me a friendly reminder that it would be prudent to check the ticker again, even though he's found nothing significant to complain about over the years.

This involves being wired-up and trotting on a treadmill, which I suppose is like listening to a vintage car's motor running to determine if the carburettor needs a bit of tuning. I'm grateful to have been spared major surgery on this useful organ after a fellow media mate recently told me he'd just spent $70,000 getting his pump retuned.

A second reminder came from my eye specialist, who notes that at my age it's time to re-check what's going on at the back of my eyeballs.


I'm very fond of my eye specialist, a charming young lady who last year restored my sight to something approaching that of a 16-year old, by removing cataracts and honing-up my tired old lenses. I'm happy for this particular surgeon to stick her knife and fork into my eyeballs any old time, because in her spare time she plays a violin in a string quartet and therefore has hands I completely trust.

Fortunately, this is another cost I can claim on medical insurance.

The Government has also swung in by reminding me that my driver's licence is about to expire and that having reached the stately age of 80, I'm required to renew it every two years.

This edict has made me grumpy, because it's going to cost me a minimum of $500 over the next decade to stay legal when driving. A renewal requires a medical certificate and the administration costs of new documentation, including a photograph. This year the combined cost was $98.70, plus having to put up with insufferably long waits in post-office type queues while undergoing the process. Clearly this expenditure will rise.

The week has concluded with the caregiver dropping it on me that I'm being sent overseas to celebrate the big event; I have no idea where I'm going.

I'm phlegmatic about this and as an experienced lone trekker, always travel light. The only difference is that in old age I now pack tea bags in my wallet instead of condoms.