Who's The Daddy: Age is just a number, but for some of us that's quite large

Those people who say that age is just a number obviously don’t have a birthday cake that, when all its candles are lit, can be seen from space.
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Yours truly celebrated, if that’s the right word these days, yet another birthday on Wednesday. Not a milestone age by any means, but if I dropped down dead tomorrow friends would say, “He wasn’t that old, but he was quite old”.

There are some bonuses to being a middle-aged man, believe it or not. The main one is not giving a **** about what people think of you anymore. To be honest, that feels like a superpower.

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And the other biggie is being more or less invisible to anyone under 30, quite some feat when you’re 6ft 3ins tall. Some people hate it but it’s pretty liberating.

When you get older you can't see the cake for all the candles. Photo: AdobeWhen you get older you can't see the cake for all the candles. Photo: Adobe
When you get older you can't see the cake for all the candles. Photo: Adobe

Like they say, getting older is a drag but it’s way better than the alternative. It’s just now and again you get a glimpse of your own mortality right when you least expect it.

Take Manchester United’s recent 3-0 win against West Ham at Old Trafford. Alejandro Garnacho had just put United 2-0 up after his shot had banjoed in off a defender, and the tricksy Argentine did the cutest celebration of the season, perched on an electronic pitchside advertising hoarding flanked by the rest of United’s New Firm, “Razzmatazz” Hojlund and the boy wonder Kobbie Mainoo.

This is all very well and good. Until you add up their ages - 19, 21 and 18 - which is only four more than I am now, and there’s three of them. It would’ve been just three more years but it was the Danish goal machine’s 21st birthday that day.

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Can you remember what you did on your 21st birthday? I can, and I’m not stupid enough to describe it in a newspaper, but suffice to say it wasn’t anywhere near as wholesome as rampaging through West Ham’s back four like some sort of marauding Viking and smashing in the opening goal for Man Utd at Old Trafford.

But getting one year closer to death isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Despite finally knowing which end to wipe without whistling, you also succumb to debilitating injuries that you would’ve either barely noticed, completely avoided or shrugged off in an afternoon in the salad days of your youth.

For instance, pulling knee ligaments in your sleep, smashing your left elbow and wrist to pieces after getting your feet caught in the stirrups of your bike’s pedals and falling off when it came to a standstill after its chain came off, tearing lower back muscles and ligaments from standing up too quickly after a trip to the toilet and something nasty going “ping” two minutes from the end of a 7am Les Mills Sprint class, as your back and right hip scream, “Who the hell do you think you’re kidding? You’re 54 this week!”

Comedy injuries like this aren’t in the Growing Old Gracefully Manual For The Over-50s. If they were, I wouldn’t have suffered them. It’s one of life’s cruel ironies that as soon as you’re old enough to properly figure everything out, your body starts to wave the white flag.

Age is just a number, that’s true, but for some of us that number is horrifyingly large.

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