Tomorrow morning at 10.30am I will turn 60.

Were she alive, my mother would be turning 103. We shared a birthdate because, due to her age at my conception, a caesarean birth was recommended and, because the timing was right, she opted to deliver me on her birthday. She was also able to arrange for this to take place at a civilised hour.

I presume Dad gave her a proper present as well.

For most of the following six decades I was raised by a kind and patient stepmother, and I have reached this landmark in close to original condition, apart from two lens implants that allow me to see and two dental implants that allow me to eat.


I'm also beyond fortunate to have a wife, three children and two stepchildren all of whom, somewhat to my surprise, will willingly spend time with me.

Still ... 60 - makes you think. So in the past week or so I've had all the tests: full check-up, dermoscopy, dentist visit.

I also arranged to have a new photo at the top of this page so I wouldn't be accused of still trying to pass for 54. I never heard back about the bloods - so they must have shown I was either in tip-top condition or so far gone it wasn't worth bothering me with the news.

I am also all too well aware that I reach this age enjoying all those privileges that are standard issue for white, middle-class males. Thanks to an accident of birth I can smash as much avocado and splurge on as many lattes as I like, heedless of the financial consequences.

But turning 60 is not the ominous occurrence it used to be. When I was growing up it meant that you probably weren't going to live much longer. That was why people retired to enjoy golden years of indolence and gardening - neither of which I particularly enjoy.

Although in five years I will be eligible, against all economic common sense, for a superannuation benefit I'll neither need nor deserve, retirement will be a bad option for someone who is likely, given the current standard of medical science and the fact I stopped smoking 10 years ago, to be around for two, if not three, more decades.

Medicine is already keeping people alive and well into their 90s. Much to their surprise, they are still here, long past the age that they expected to be when they were growing up.

And that is only going to get worse. My 19-year-old daughter will probably live to be 100, and my grandchildren certainly will.

For today's young people, old age will commence much later than the advertised starting time. We need to plan to make the most of those decades which used to be regarded as having no other purpose than carrying us quietly to the grave. They will now be rich years of opportunity and activity, as long as we're prepared for them.

We will also need to keep working well past the age of 65, not just to support ourselves but also to stop ourselves going out of our heads with boredom. We need to ensure that we have interests that fulfil us and people who love us and society will need to reorganise itself to accommodate a huge population of fit and healthy and useful old people.

Of course, in my case, all the preceding will be irrelevant if, due to some undiagnosed condition or unexpected calamity, I die between the time of writing and 10.30am Monday.