I have been looking at my bookshelves. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff I’ve not read. In fact my voluminous book collection isn’t in reality ever going to be read. But it’s very comforting having it. All those thousands of pages and millions (possibly over a billion) words – all pressed together in worthy neglect. But I should try to make an effort to read more of it, now that I am about to become a ‘senior’ in all respects (i.e. entitled to state pension). After all, weren’t some of those books collected on the assumption that I would have (quality leisure) time on my hands at this point? This anticipation does not apply to the shelves stacked with the twenty years’ worth of Hansards I have, by the way – they are definitely there merely for decoration.
As a new senior, I feel entitled to wander off the subject at will, and now I will. The inspiration for this musing on age, and my capacity to do something with the collection of books I have amassed has been the receipt of another NHS screening notification, this time for a burst aorta, or should I say an abdominal aortic aneurysm. One has had heard of this sort of thing before – I think – but until now I never really knew what it meant. But now I do, and I’ve been given an appointment to be screened. I will go of course, to see if my aorta’s wall sidings are made of Teflon coated Titanium or merely made out of Poundland toilet paper. Much of it is in the genes of course. I suspect mine will be OK due to the fact that my ancestors came from France.
Anyway, with all this old age screening (the bowl cancer pooper scooper’s been out since I was 60) I feel the same way I did facing the 11+ all those years ago. What if I fail the test? What kind of relegation zone will I face all over again? It’s bad enough to fail at the start of life, but now? I will have to learn all about living with some kind of failure again, will I? Alternatively I can just go with the flow and say fuck it. You are what you are, and there’s actually very little you can do to change that. Indeed, there are some serious risks attendant on such attempts. Thankfully, the NHS leaflet about bursting aortas tells me that if I am rare enough to qualify for surgery, I only have a one in 54 chance of dying. Not such bad odds, and I suppose going to heaven might be better under general anaesthetic.
So, that little digression out of the way, I am looking at my bookshelves, and I have decided to read a book that’s sat there for years and will now be read in a kind of act of defiance. Almost plucked at random from my philosophy shelf, the lucky book is titled Alienation, by Richard Schacht, published by George Allen and Unwin in 1971 and purchased from a Hull City Library sale for 25p in 1985. I shall now read this with all due vigour and report back. And if I don’t, blame the burst aorta, or at least an overlong siesta.
On an entirely different subject, my toilet stopped flushing the other day. This was due to a split in the diaphragm in the siphon. This is a thin piece of plastic which carries water up when you pull the lever and then lets it flow past when you release the lever. The diaphragm costs pennies, but many people will call out a plumber for £100 to replace the entire siphon when its cheapest part (inevitably) fails. Let me say here and now that I am willing to do the job for 50 quid (plus expenses) and I will of course leave without asking you when you actually last cleaned behind your toilet.