I'm not there yet. But I'm less scared. Sure, there's the decrease in physical and mental capacities, the smell and spectre of death, but there is also the chance to one day completely and utterly bow out of the contemporary and any wish for a public, engaged, even prominent life (which I still haven't achieved so maybe I can't be old yet). Given the endless churn of everything at all times, I think, sadly, that the most subversive gesture available will be to retire to my study (which I still haven't built so maybe I can't be old yet) with a compilation of Beethoven's Late Quartets, a few cases of fine Scotch and a DVD set of some British TV series that is meant to take place before rock and roll came along and destroyed everything. It won't be hard to cultivate the sense of haughty disdain with which I will address others; all I will have to do, as I look up from my biography of some famous historical figure, peering over unfashionable reading glasses, is repeat my typical critiques of society, people, politics, and contemporary culture, with contempt and passionless incredulity instead of anger and thwarted hope. Who are we bombing this year, dear? Of course. Is the tea ready?
(I'm getting ready a bit too soon by watching episodes from the above series, but I figure, as long as England is bursting with self-serious theater majors who are unable or unwilling to work in Hollywood, there will always be some nearly-retired detective, wandering somewhere around the pastoral England of Morrissey's dreams, using his expressive eyebrows and understated wit to badger people into confessing their crimes.)