'I hope I'm old before I die. I hope I live to relive the days gone by," sang Robbie Williams in 1997, the year I had my first child, and which feels around two weeks ago. For me, it's the silent anthem of the lockdown, since a young man in a white coat sits me down and says "you mightn't be an automatic candidate".
Not, that in my temporary emergency exile, I would be contesting an election. Rather, as he puts it, having dodgy lungs, being closer to 60 now than 50 and there being a critical lack of ICU places, were I to get Covid-19, I might not be an automatic candidate for ventilation.
"Hang on. I'm still 56, have lost stones, fast-walk 5km every day, am fitter than I was in my 30s," I protest.
He has the gall to mention lung capacity, giving me the bemused, vaguely pitying look young adults keep for the harmless, hopeless middle-aged. "Surely it dawned on you? What did you expect?"
Expect? Another 25 years, hopefully. His parting look says 'God love you'.
With Covid-19, mortality hasn't just tapped us on the shoulder, it's hit us right in the kisser. The virus mocks our medicalised world where there's a pill and procedure for everything.
Suddenly, like our forebears in the 1800s, we're considering age as something to aspire to as opposed to avoid. Those who have lost young siblings, parents, friends, know that ageing is not only a glorious gift, but shocking good luck. Those thinning lips, sagging jowls, knobbly fingers, clickety knees, Brillopad hair mean one thing: we're still alive.
Only, in our mediatised world, idolatrous of youth, you'd never think it. Young is good. Old is bad.
This week a friend is sagging, not from the virus, but lack of Botox. "The Botox keeps me Me," she offers in unnecessary explanation.
But what 'Keeps us Us' in a time when 70 is the new 50? Eighty was ancient until Harrison Ford and Goldie Hawn are nearly there with Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith already settled in.
What 'Keeps us Us' when we move to a nursing home? I know some people have excellent experience of family in nursing home.
The residential setting is truly a second home with outstanding carers and nurses. Others are less lucky.
I can't imagine Jane Fonda going fresh from her police mugshot after her climate arrest, to sit in a semi-circle of other octogenarians watching tv turned up to the max, simply because of her age. In his 80s, my father used to say he still felt 16 on the inside, 21 on days when he wasn't feeling so hot. His illness denuded him, but his decline didn't make him any less Him. Throughout, we sought to keep him Him, as a right, not a privilege.
As elderly, then, it is not age per se that does for us, it is lack of autonomy, choices. It's a bit like poverty in that sense. Some of us return to second childhood in our heads, others in being infantilised, our decisions made for us.
Just as the system seems to prefer warehousing our children into day-care, it's the same with our elderly.
Like most people, I hope to live independently for as long as possible, visiting children, and with a bit of luck grandchildren, wherever they are in the world. Thereafter, I hope for sheltered housing, with pots for planting, a patio for sitting and bird-feeding, a door with a cat-flap for the necessary moggy. It is one of the great dismays of old age that people are forced to surrender their pets.
But not as dismaying as the Government not moving with all alacrity to set up the necessary virus defences in our nursing homes. Basic common sense, not epidemiology or expertise in public health, demanded that they be prioritised.
Dr Marcus de Brun's resignation from the Medical Council, calling the Government's management of the nursing-home crisis "one of the biggest political blunders in the history of the State" is signal. It is a timely public antidote both to the Green Jersey soma and a neo-liberal philosophy, where market price and productivity supersede intrinsic human values and value.
Covid-19 is exposing the fault-lines in a country that many of the dead and dying worked longest and hardest to build. The analgesic application of "elderly" and "underlying conditions" does not ease the pain of grieving families. It does not sweep away the essence of who their beloved dead were, and still could be.
Many of them would have been my age, when Robbie Williams was singing about wanting to be old before he died - 23 years, they go in a blink.
Like the nursing-home dead. Could it be that in a national virus plan, as much about public relations as about public contagion, the official eyes have been firmly on the acute hospitals because there lie the headlines? And because they do, too many old men and old women, lie beneath?