I’ve turned 60 – but all is not lost

By the time you read this I’ll be 60, having passed that milestone on Tuesday. My older friends tell me that turning 60 is like having to give a speech in public – the anticipation is worse than the reality. Once it’s in your rear-view mirror, you quickly forget about it and instead start looking ahead and thinking about the national speed limit. But as I write it’s looming like the horror of the shade, to quote William Ernest Henley. I’m loath to bellyache about this because I can imagine being incredibly irritated when, in 20 years’ time, I read a column by some young whippersnapper complaining about turning 60.

Everyday life in the Eternal City: Roman Stories, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

The middle story in this compassionate collection follows disparate folk loosely linked by a set of steps. Among them, there’s the mother who climbs them first thing in the morning, the girl who descends them at two in the afternoon and the screenwriter who lives at the foot of them, and who stays home nearly all day. Together, these men, women and children represent a cross section of society. One comes from ‘a faraway tropical city’; another compares the grubby sight of graffiti to hearing ‘foreigners talking on the street’. Yet, here they are, existing side by side in a Roman neighbourhood, going about their ordinary daily routines. Which is