Thursday, 3 January 2008

If This Is The Start Of The Rest Of My Life Why Should I Bother?

As readers of this blog will know I turned 40 in 2007 and have really been feeling my age. It seems to be getting far worse. I accept that I had had many health problems in my life, but it is the difficulty of getting through an ordinary day. Today was no exception and I am not (I was about to say 'I am lucky not to even be back at work yet' but given how mad I am going sitting at home, maybe 'lucky' is the wrong word), even back at work yet. I found it almost impossible to drag myself out of bed today and walked around the supermarket as if I was a zombie. I have slept the bulk of the afternoon away and feel no better; just incredibly lethargic. I tried playing a computer game with a 6-year old who was keen to have a human partner and was utterly humiliated, I could not get any of my forces even in range of his and many of them died even without me having fired a shot. He did not even have to attack me in order to win and even started shooting his own men in an attempt to try and balance the game for me. It was not that I lost badly or even lost, it was that I could not even engage in the game sufficiently to even give him an easy challenge. I know children assume adults can do anything they can do but better when in fact, especially with anything computer-based they are far better and this proved the case. However, it did seem to emphasise to me how irrelevant I am in the world of the late 2000s. My memory is deteriorating quickly, I now meet people I have no memory of though they reveal I have spoken with them at length just days before; I forget names and faces and even worse tell people things they have actually told me in the first place. If I feel this bad when I have no obvious symptoms - I am not suffering a cold or flu, I have had no accidents or anything else that signals a problem, I am simply lacking in energy and my body is still in various places (my knees in particular ache, but I have heard that becomes common for most men beyond the age of 30). I am not overweight, in fact I lost a lot of weight before Christmas due to the fortnight of moving heavy boxes and furniture up and downstairs. So, I can only think it must be down to old age. If I was a caveman I would be elderly by now; even in 1900 the average life expectancy of a worker was only 45, so maybe we just keep ourselves alive artificially long periods these days. I feel like the Struldbruggs in 'Gulliver's Travels' the people of Luggnagg who are immortal, but their faculties deteriorate over time so the bulk of them are blind and deaf and all are entirely bored, desperate for something new in their lives. I also suffer that and find no interest in books and television, let alone the computer.

What worries me is, if I feel this bad now at 40, what is it going to be like if I live to 60? Do I face two decades of dragging my increasingly debilitated body around; bored out of my mind and unable to interact with the increasingly complex computer-focused world of the 2010s and 2020s, let alone to make a worthwhile contribution to it? What if the young people I meet only use systems that I cannot even press the correct buttons to access? Will I be cut out of forms of communication. Clearly one fear, with my work contract expiring in 2009, is that I will find it difficult to get a job now and that I face another 25 years on unemployment and other benefits, being pressured to retrain myself so that I can get a 'McJob' though of course unless I am behind the scenes all these problems of communication will continue and in any post the lethargy which seems to be taking me will still hamper my work. So it is likely that I face 25 years at lower wages than at present before sliding into poverty when I retire. In the UK many people fall one or two or more social classes on retirement. This is as measured by the census which has 8 social categories with '8' being the 'underclass' of homeless people; on retirement people in categories 3 or 4 will commonly drop from category to 5, 6 or even 7 because of the fall in income and status; something exacerbated by chief executives of companies running off with pension funds. People in categories 1 and 2 are in that bracket where they are sufficiently wealthy that they can ignore the normal rules of society. The end of so many company pension schemes in the UK and the poor performance and mis-selling of so many private schemes means lots of working and middle class UK people will be in poverty in old age.

I had intended to end my life in August 2007 ahead of my 40th birthday in October and was dissuaded by my housemates. However, increasingly it seems to have been a mistake and it is something I need to rethink as I have no desire to face another two decades of feeling as bad as this and being slowly day-by-day being demonstrated that I am of no use to society and in fact lack the abilities to properly engage with what it requires. I am no rich now but falling into even tighter financial straits is not an attractive proposition and is something which is liable to start from 2009 onwards. I did say that I was going to avoid making this blog a journal of my deterioration, but being a 40-year old in the UK today it seems impossible to avoid it. Hopefully there will not be many months left in which I can experience the humiliation and discomfort of being a middle aged British person alive in 2008.

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