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John Masterson: I would like to be around to see Ireland fixed


Sir David Attenborough making a surprise appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sir David Attenborough making a surprise appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage (Aaron Chown/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Sir David Attenborough making a surprise appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage (Aaron Chown/PA)

It has been a slowly dawning realisation over the past year or so that I have more living behind me than ahead of me. Mikel Murfi has a great line in The Man in the Woman's Shoes when he talks about someone dying that was from our "pen". This is not a midlife crisis. It is far too late for that. This is a get the most out of it because we know not the hour nor the day. But we do know it is a lot sooner than it used to be. This is more final furlong than midlife. And I wouldn't mind adding a few extra rods and chains.

I did take the precaution of having a full MOT over the last months. I was pleased to be told that I have the heart of a lion. Some unkind people were surprised they found one. I was pleased it showed no signs of breakages. I also sport the lungs of an opera singer and that, by and large, they couldn't find much wrong with the mechanics of me. I would have been very annoyed if I had not received the non-smoking dividend. The MOT probably could have added the brain of an eight-year-old at times. Thankfully it is still doing its job and I give it a work out each morning with the crossword and coffee. As a habit it definitely sets you up for the day. It should be followed up by a run, but if you get into all these body and brain maintenance routines there is too little time to do things that are good for you like golf and motorbikes, and bad for you - like wine.

Longevity thoughts came into focus with all of the election coverage about retiring at 65. The Government had a sensible policy of gradually increasing the retirement age. We live a lot longer now than when that magic number was put in place. As is often the case with these things, the policy was only half thought through. People who were put out to pasture had to go and seek work when the very things that they were good at had just been put off limits. Needless to say the public sector took care of itself to bridge the gap. Funny how they always forget about the private sector… i.e. the people who pay the bills.

What followed the backtrack on pension age was auction politics and a frantic dive to the lowest common denominator. The pensions time bomb may have been ticking but it was the electorate that exploded and the politicians back-pedalled with alacrity. I wish I could turn back the clock as easily. I look forward to the wonderful fiasco now as the people who got nothing until 66 over the last few years look for a payout.

Being self-employed for about 30 years, my pension has had to be paid for by me. Like anyone in the private sector we look at the gold-plated public service and politician pensions with envy. They do look after themselves admirably.

Joe Biden looks pretty good for 77. David Attenborough still rocks in his 90s and the BBC has the common sense to realise this. Joan Bakewell is a role model for us all. Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan are still at the top. Gary Player is a model of fitness in his 80s. And the Rolling Stones still roll. If I had some money I would like Warren Buffett (89) to look after it. I hope I have the health, energy and finance to take it easier for a good few years. I need to be in the USA the day Trump loses the election as I was the day Barack won. I want to do a lot more swimming in warm water. There is a lot of smoked salmon in the world to be eaten. There are hills, even mountains, to climb. There are some golfers whom I badly need to beat next May. One of the pleasures in life is watching people eat their words. It makes life worth living.

Above all I would like to be around to see Ireland fixed. It is an awful mess and very badly managed. I would hate to fall into despair, but I do not hold out much hope. It is at times like this I remember the old anarchist adage: "It doesn't matter who you vote for. The Government always wins." And none of them seem to be very good at looking after this wonderful little island.

Sunday Indo Living