• Having arrived at the age The Beatles once sang about I've learned a thing or two over the years.
Such as, it's a wise man who always feels young enough to change his mind. There is always time left, no matter how long or short the span; it's a case of making the most of it. The fury of young men is always with us, yet if they live long enough they will also look back and ask themselves 'what was that all about'?
Take the flag issue in the North, for instance. This country as a whole went through awful distress over the past 40 years, and many of us took to the streets in marches supporting or opposing one 'flag' and the various related issues. Unthinking nationalism.
Now I look upon the very same things and my thinking is: "Fly a flag over Belfast City Hall any time you want to."
It really doesn't matter. Flags are merely a poor representation of the hopes and struggles of the marginalised and of our oft-betrayed sense of belonging.
We belong where we are in the world, and can be patriotic about that place we inhabit for the time we are there. We do not own the piece of Earth we walk upon, and cannot claim it over our neighbours and their own sense of freedom.
Politicians often make stupid decisions – be it about flags or the savage cuts to the incomes of today's protest marchers – and they should reflect on what it is the people need and not silently let hatred creep back into communities.
Where is responsibility coming from political leaders? Nowhere. It is as if these dangerous times have again become a distraction from the hard work it takes to get people pulling together. They are not espousing rational encouragement to the citizens, merely selective condemnation.
We've all been there before, and it achieves very little.
For the sake of peace in the North, put the flag back up – for however long the place is under British jurisdiction. What really matters and needs to be protested against, is the disdain our elected politicians have for the people, whether it's under the Union flag or the Tricolour. A good time to flag-wave is when our soccer teams and athletes take to the field of play – shake them furiously then.
The old Irish/British battles have all been won and lost, and the history of it all is not kind to one side or the other. Inglorious.
The flying of any flag is little to worry about when the mortgage and electricity bills are biting our ankles. In this we are all in it together, both loyalist and republican.
Bantry, Co Cork