How far would you go for the money?

status quo 1

Pandora recently me served up “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, a number from 1968 that I don’t think I’ve heard in 40 odd years.  They certainly never play it on those boring-hits-and-crappy-memories FM stations, anyway.

Yep, that piece of psychedelia was from Status Quo, their first big hit.  It took me way back.

Recently, however, you like me are perhaps being continuously appalled by the Quo’s latest refrain on free-to-air TV (to which I have sadly had to resort for Friday Night Football).  This piece of musical self-mutilation has various permutations, the most annoying so far of which goes:

“Down, down, prices are down,
Coles mince, it’s staying down.”

Coles mince?  The whole thing has thrown me into a grumpy old man over-reaction.  It’s got me saying things like:

“Surely those dopey big red hand-shaped guitars beg the question – aren’t there some things you just wouldn’t do, even if it was for big bucks?”

status quo 3

Look, I don’t claim to know what kind of financial shape Messrs Parfitt and Rossi are in, but Status Quo have sold 128 million records and are still touring (soon apparently with Uriah Heep, which should be very ‘umble, very heavy).  So maybe they are donating their fee to charity or something.

Or maybe they just want to stay in the public eye, and they are cross-promoting their records and tours.

Or, Brigitte posits over my shoulder while I am ranting, maybe they are having  fun?

I’m a realist; I understand the pressure in your 60’s, as these boys are, to monetise your achievements.  Hey, I was in investment banking in the 80’s, when everything had a venal tone to it.  And people used to love telling me that joke about why science researchers prefer using lawyers to lab rats – because there are some things that rats just won’t do.  But is Coles mince going a little too far?

The thought does occur to me, though, that maybe getting to 60 can seem like a licence to be judgemental and critical of other people’s decisions. That can be really boring for everyone who has to listen to the rants.  So, Rick and Francis, you keep banging away on the big red hands, and I’ll chill out and stop pontificating.  Anyway, the footy season is nearly over so I won’t have to watch free-to-air for the next few months.

Oh, wait, there’s the Ashes this summer ….

PS – the boys with real guitars, and a bit more hair. Didn’t you love 1968?

status quo 2

 

(Pictures courtesy of Google Images)

Me and Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan

The Hulkster has always been a kind of anti-hero to me – just far enough on the side of the good v. evil wrestling divide to be admirable,  not too goodie-goodie to be boring, and that touch of larrikin which says “I know that there’s a fair few of you out there who know that I ‘m taking the piss.”  I recently heard that he had just turned 60, another fine product of 1953.  Or perhaps it was Terry Bolea who turned 60, rather than Hulk Hogan – the benefit in having a stage name like Hulk maybe.

I wondered if he and I had anything else in common, besides our year of birth.  After some intensive research (being 15 minutes in Wikipedia and 5 more in biography.com) I’ve discovered that he and I have quite a few cross-overs.  Like these:

  • He made his debut as a wrestler in the same year I made mine as a lawyer – 1977
  • He has a son and a daughter from his first marriage
  • He is semi-retired now
  • He lives his life according to personal values .

Well, he calls them “demandments” rather than values.  The four Hulk demandments are training, saying prayers, eating vitamins and believing in oneself.

Of course, there are many more differences than similarities between us – e.g.

  • I’m not 6 foot 7 inches and 135 kilos, and I don’t have 24 inch biceps
  • I’ve never been inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame (or the lawyers’ one either, come to think of it)
  • I’m pretty sure I couldn’t body-slam Andre the Giant
  • My signature move is falling off my bike, rather than doing the Atomic Drop.

He might look a little one-domensional, but I reckon there are nevertheless some lessons to be learned from Hulk Hogan.  Live by your values is one, even if they don’t qualify as demandments.  Don’t let yourself go is another – the Hulk can still put on a show in the ring.  And give something back – meeting Hogan is one of the most requested “wishes” of the terminally ill children benefited by the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Cyndi Lauper recently turned 60 too, but that might be another story.

Five apps to look hip in front of the kids

smartphone

Sick of being chided by your children for the paltry number of icons on your smartphone? (You do have a smartphone, don’t you?)  Here are five apps to help fill the screen, and maybe even enhance your sixtified life.

Pandora

Sure, the kids will already have this one on their phones, because it’s a pretty hot app right now.  It sets up “radio stations” – you plug in the name of an artist or a song, and it scurries off to apply some algorithm or other and find artists and songs in a similar genre.

So when the family are there, you can call up the Martha Wainwright station and get a wide selection of indie folk – thus looking very up-to-date.  Then when they leave, you can switch to The Kinks station and get some seriously good ole rock.

Gymboss

Want to look in-the-know at the gym, in front of all the buff young crowd?  This one lets you set up exercise intervals of whatever length you like, with appropriate rest periods in between.  It has a satisfyingly loud beep telling you when to go hard, and when to rest.

So everyone in your vicinity can see and hear that you are serious about the treadmill or bike session you are doing.

ABC Radio

Yeah, look, the kids will call it “old people’s radio” (so does my wife).  But you can get any ABC radio station in the country.  So when you really don’t want to listen to the fishing show on ABC Sydney early on Saturday morning, you can flick to ABC Brisbane and get The Squeaky Wheel, about cycling stuff.  Or dodge the cricket broadcast when the Poms are doing really well and you can’t stand to hear the BBC commentators gloating.

And you can tell the kids it’s great to be able to stream Triple J now, whenever you like.

Tripview

This is actually a really useful app.  You can pick the line you want to travel on, to see when the trains leave your station and when you can come home.  It does buses and ferries as well, though I can’t attest to how useful those functions are.

This is especially helpful as you can now, at 60 plus, get those $2.50 all day train tickets to get you anywhere in the state.

Mindfulness

Being “mindful” is a very prominent concept at the moment, so it helps your currency to drop it in the right context.  The Mindfulness app gives you a range of guided meditations from 3 to 30 minutes so you can stay in the moment and listen to whatever the universe is trying to tell you.  And if that doesn’t push a button for you, the kids ought to be impressed.

If you like this app, you can then get Mindfulness 2, which has meditations where you can become a mountain or a lake for 20 minutes and get a different perspective on life.  How hip is that?

*****

With these new streams of content coming at you, there may be one more app you need.  If you are prone to drifting off into a nanna-nap with your earphones in, you should also get Sleep Timer, which will turn off your phone or iPod after the number of minutes you specify.

You don’t have to tell the kids about that one.

No, I don’t really have a body image issue, but …

blog photo body image

…  I have succumbed to the vanity of engaging a personal trainer .  He’s great, but I must be a challenging client.  At 60 (or about 5 minutes away from it anyway), here’s how a personal training session starts:

Tony:               What would you like to focus on today?

David:             Well, I’m still having this issue with the pain in my arm when it moves in certain directions, so no push-ups, no bench press and no pec fly.

Tony:               Anything else?

David:             Yeah, you know that thing you lean over to do upside down sit-ups?  Well, I didn’t have it adjusted properly when I was using it on Saturday morning and got my kneecap stuck under the pad.  Now I can’t straighten my leg out so none of that jumping stuff.

Tony:               Okay, we’ll work around that.

Tony:               (Aside to another of his ageing clients)  That’s the trouble with this gym, there are too many old farts.

Old fart:         You’re not that young yourself.  You wait till it catches up with you too.

So the sixtified version of personal training turns out to be:

  • Train whatever parts of your body are currently functioning at better than 75%
  • Something is better than nothing
  • Love it that you can still do anything much on those infernal machines anyway
  • Don’t give up, because there are still those occasional moments of magic when you realise you’ve just done something you couldn’t do a few weeks ago.

If the state of your body gets really disheartening, a couple of inspirational examples can always help, like these.

The first one is from the SMH Fitz Files:

Don Riddington – the 68-year-old grandfather and oldest Australian to swim the English Channel.  He did it in 19 hours and 45 minutes.”  That’s a long time to doing anything physical, and there wouldn’t  have been any black line on the bottom to follow, either.

The second one popped up on Pinterest when I was getting a dose of vicarious mountain bike thrills from other people’s photos:

Robert Marchand from France, who set a world record for cycling non-stop for one hour, in the over 100 year old category at the Union Cycliste Internationale velodrome in Aigle, France February 17, 2012.  Marchand, born November 26 1911, cycled 24.251 kilometres around the 200 metre indoor track to set the record.”  He was born when?

There may thus be hope for this old body still to crank out a decent performance somewhere down the track.

Is there a real life after 60?

My dad had a small but memorable repertoire of songs.  He would occasionally break into one that had a refrain which, as best I can remember, went something like this:

“The old grey mare she ain’t what she used to be, many long years ago …”

I was recently riding my trusty bicycle up a hill which I hadn’t tackled for years, and found myself grabbing for a gear which was a wee bit lower than I know I used the last time. Dad’s little song popped rudely into my head through the panting and gulping.  This little black duck, on the brink of turning 60, sure ain’t what he used to be.

Or as my wife pithily reminds me: “The older you get, the better you were”.

Just having a peep over the horizon, I admit there are a few upsides to 60:

  • your super pension becomes tax-free
  • you can get one of those $2.50 train tickets that can take you anywhere
  • you go up an age category in bike rides and fun-runs so you are racing 69 year olds, instead of being 59 and racing 50 year olds
  • if you have no shame, you can get a senior’s card and ask for the discount.

But none of those so far seem to be fair compensation for the downsides, like:

  • your daughter can bench-press more kilos than you can
  • your tattoo is going blurry at the edges
  • when you get your hair cut, you have to get your eyebrows clippered with the number 1 at the same time.

And those are just some of the embarrassments.

There has to be a way through this transition, via which you can maintain your dignity, stay in reasonable shape, and still have some relevance to society.

Here beginneth the first lesson.

Don’t rely on Dr Google.

Look, this bit may be a little tacky, so feel free to skip it.  I had this pinky dark tinge to my urine.  Of course I googled “blood in urine” and got a  slew of suggestions about what could be wrong with me, ranging from “it could be nothing” (which of course I wasn’t going to accept) all the way up to prostate cancer (which at almost 60 was well on the cards).

There was the usual caveat about going to see your doctor forthwith, which I did but not forthwith.  First I worried a bit more. When I finally got there, I was handed the little bottle with the yellow lid and sent to fill it.  I came back with a specimen of a gorgeous hue, pale pink like a bottle of good French rose.

The little test strip went in, and Dr Actual-not-Google gave it a total all-clear on every indicator.  She said “Have you been doing anything new lately?”

I had a glimmer of insight.  “Well, we’ve got a new juicer and I’ve been doing beetroot juice.” Turns out there is a recognised condition of “beetroot-urea”, and this time I didn’t have prostate cancer at all.

No doubt there will be plenty of little niggles in this coming decade.  Not starting out by catastrophising them will be a really good first reaction, and not consulting Dr Google is no doubt the best way to do that.

If that story didn’t put you off, you can follow the bumpy ride through the tipping point right here at being60.com.