Sunday, September 27, 2009

Age issue

Plenty of media coverage about age issues at the moment, have you noticed?

Retirement at 65 is not OK for many 65-year-olds, the BBC wants to hire an “older” female newsreader, which is surely in breach of equality legislation, and Man Utd’s Ryan Giggs is being widely praised for still being brilliant at his stage in his career.

I am firmly in the “what’s age got to do with it?” camp. I am not defending me, or may age group, far from it.

Fair enough, I will not ever be pulling on the boots for Scotland at Hampden or be short-listed for a young journalist of the year award, but that’s fine and perfectly understandable. I was never short-listed for a young hack’s title in my journalistic youth and that was fine.

But, as a young man starting off my career in local newspapers and then progressing to the nationals, the “old guys” - the professionals - were endlessly supportive, helpful, critical and gruffly caring. Of that, there can be no doubt.

Today, being my age - 56 since you all ask - isn’t a barrier to anything, although ticking the final box in surveys that ask your age always slightly un-nerves me.

I became a dad again three years ago, I still go to a gym three or four times a week for a vigorous work-out, I play tennis as often as I can, I still have all my own teeth, knees, hips etc. I believe I am young at heart, with a big heart.

Of course, when I turned 40 and 50 I did that reflective bit but my life is good, the people in it are just wonderful and I think getting hung up on age can be a bit of waste of time.

I set up my own business just over 12 years ago so new learning has been part of my growing up in another different way.

I was asked by a chum, who is a year or two younger me, a few years ago when I would give up going to live music. No plans for that, I told him as I still love going to gigs with my older brother who is 62 and my grown-up sons, aged 30 and 27.

On that note, Neil Young, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen played gigs in Edinburgh last year and each was memorable, absolutely brilliant. No problems with their ages, I suggest.

Workwise, I reckon I bring experience, maturity and a healthy dose of reality to my clients through my PR business. I feel sorry for people facing the job chop at 65, especially those who are in good health, have plenty to offer, are enthusiastic and fit for it. I reckon I’m not alone with these views.

I like to think I’m grown up, not old.

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