Julie Burchill

Now I’m 64: my tips for a happy old age

Ditch friends, find God – and don’t bother envying the young

  • From Spectator Life
[Alamy]

On my 20th birthday, I locked myself in the bathroom of my bungalow in­­ Billericay and cried. Having achieved my dream – becoming a published writer – at the tender age of 17, I thought it was all downhill from there. Yes, some of this had to do with marrying the first man I had sex with; the idea that I was only ever meant to do the deed with him alone appalled me beyond words. But there was also a general feeling that my value was in some way intrinsically bound up with my extreme youth.

Fast-forward to the day I turned 60, when I woke up in an Art Deco flat with the sea at the bottom of the street, married to a man (third time lucky) who could still make me laugh after a quarter of a century. After some years in the wilderness (albeit a very luxurious wilderness, having been living the high life for a decade due to selling my house to a developer for a lot of money) I had a newspaper column and a book contract. You bet I felt smug.

As I contemplate the trail leading into the unknown forest of senescence, I feel perkier than I have at any point since the turn of the century

By the end of that year, I’d lost my book contract and my column and was effectively a pariah, having committed the very senior crime of misbehaving on Twitter rather in the manner of a drunk and disorderly OAP in charge of a rogue vehicle. But – like a catchy song with a false ending – yesterday I celebrated the birthday which the Beatles saw as the number epitomising old age: 64. Not only am I unbothered by what I lost, but as I contemplate the trail leading into the unknown forest of senescence, I feel perkier than I have at any point since the turn of the century.

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