Reading a review of Admissions, a new book by celebrated brain surgeon Henry Marsh, author of the remarkable Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery, I’m surprised by his admissions about his own ageing.
His retirement…the sight of his elderly sagging buttocks…have made him more fearful. The sudden proximity of death and the disabilities that old age brings….
Blimey. Henry Marsh must be older than I thought. But no. Turns out, H Marsh is only 3 years older than I am.
I drop the review on the duvet.
Elderly sagging buttocks? This is upsetting.
I get out of bed and go to the mirror. Hmm, not too bad – though I haven’t got my specs on.
Nonetheless, I am quite shaken up. Buttocks notwithstanding, I must be getting old too. These ailments of decline that he talks about, they’re round the corner for me too.
If Henry Marsh is feeling the draught and was born in the same decade that I was, then how can I go on pretending that I’m somehow immune from ageing?
Is there a point?
If death is suddenly proximate, and with it the ‘disabilities that old age brings’, is there any point in say, writing a blog. Or buying a bike? Or planting a tree?
Perhaps there’s more point, rather than none. But I still can’t quite shake off the fear.
Over breakfast, the feelings start to drift, but they leave a certain undertone to the morning, which isn’t dispersed by a walk, particularly under a grey sky.
Later, a sausage roll from the nice baker brings some solace and a sense, renewed yet again, of ‘just effing do it’, whatever it is.
This is how it is, I think, beyond 60. We start to see the end of the road in sight. Maybe it’s still a fair way off, maybe not. Most of us don’t know. Can’t know.
Now and then, Henry Marsh’s buttocks or something like them, force us to face up to our mortality. But we can’t hold that feeling for long, or we prefer not too.
By the end of the day, Henry and his sagging bum have receded. But they’ve made an impression.
Onwards, that’s the only answer.