When I'm 64...

When I'm 64...

Michael Jackson contemplates not so old age
Michael Jackson

01 June 2006

Publication: Issue 56

Will you still love me when I’m 64? By the time you read this, I will be. In fact, since I wrote those two sentences, I am.At the beginning of the year, I noted in my diary, alongside a certain date in March: “Will you still love me? Etc.” Most writers of regular columns keep diaries of future topics. As you get older, the trick lies in remembering to consult the list. Did I forget my own birthday? I can’t remember. Looking back at my year-planner, I seem to have returned from New York to London that day, only to head back across the Atlantic a week or 10 days later.At least one of my several crossings of the Atlantic in recent months has been to collect a Lifetime Achievement Award. I don’t intend to sound blasé about such honours, which mean a great deal to me.It is, as you may have suspected, the word ‘lifetime’ that worries the recipients of these otherwise welcome tributes.Our lives are not yet over, and we hope that neither are our achievements. I refer to those of us who are sufficiently bold and braggartly to believe that we have achieved something or other, even if we are not quite sure what.The British do not like bigheads, and have almost a reverence for modesty. Some people claim proudly to have no achievements, except perhaps the considerable attainment of a happy marriage and healthy children.Many women, and some men, insist they are not competitive. I don’t believe them.After a season or three in the rose garden, they will try to murder their rivals at the municipal flower show (a crime that will be recoded with modest sensationalism in the Daily Telegraph).Humans are naturally competitive. For thousands of years homo erectus has been conditioned to roam and hunt – otherwise, no dinosaur for dinner.I’ll hunt the beer and chase the whisky. Or is such an offer absurd bravado? Has a freebie opening line from a popular song charmed me into danger? Is admitting my great age a mistake in a youth obsessed society?I should know. Mine was the generation that started it.Teenagers were invented just in time for me. In my 20s, I laughingly echoed Jerry Rubin when he said “don’t trust anyone over 30” (at least until he hi-jacked a television show on which I was working).Back then, the birthdays of progressive ambivalence occurred every 10 years.At 40, I was in London not long widowed, and starting a new relationship. At 50, I was in Seattle, at an impromptu party thrown by friends. A local brewery made a commemorative Brown Ale.At 60, I was appearing on stage at The Brickskeller, in Washingon, DC. The beers served included specially labelled magnums of Anchor Steam. On each table was a white rose, in a Sam Smith’s bottle. A gentle tribute to God’s county and mine from a Yorkshireman working as a brewer in Maryland Does my tireless travel demonstrate my youthful energy, stamina and worldwide popularity? Or am I pathetically drawing attention to the insecurity of an aging male?Things definitely take longer as you get older.Meanwhile, time accelerates – passes more quickly.Does this mean I am having more fun? It’s hard to tell. I check in the mirror to see whether I am smiling, but this test doesn’t really work with Yorkshiremen. We are Scots with the sense of humour removed.After once being proposed as Spirits Professional of the Year, and on another occasion being short-listed for journalism on wines and spirits, I finally picked up a winner’s medal in the celebrated James Beard Awards: for Whisky: The Definitive World Guide.It was a glittering affair, in the grand ballroom of the Marriott Marquis, on Times Square, New York. I was so sure I would not win, that I almost fainted when my name emerged from the envelope.Instead of collapsing, I ran to the stage, to grab the medal before they changed their minds.Isn’t this story a little self-serving? Yes but, as the New York adman George Lois said, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Plus: this story was produced as a service to all over 64s. Do they still love you? Go for it… If you are not yet over 64, you will be soon enough.

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