1. People who “hate getting old” are idiots. Every year is a privilege. Let me tell you, callow miserabilists: getting to 60 feels like a triumph. I have no idea how I made it this far, but I am very grateful.
2. Memory is a fickle friend, it something something in the end.
3. I mean, I know all the words to (I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo (1942). And the Nicene creed from the Book of Common Prayer (1662). Yet, oddly, I can’t remember the lyrics to any of those profound, politically charged power-pop songs I wrote to shame the world into becoming a better place (1980s).
4. For instance. It was 1968. Early summer evening, a Saturday. My mate and I were hitching home in the Essex countryside. We got a lift from a happy couple in a boaty car that smelled of leather and engine oil. We were 15, they were proper old, 20-ish. Relaxed and so very much in love. They treated us as equals, laughed at our jokes, we smoked their cigarettes. Walk Away Renee by the Four Tops came on the radio. We all sang along to the chorus. I felt a blissful certainty that life as an adult might genuinely be a laugh. The entire encounter lasted no more than 10 minutes. I have thought about that couple every day since. Every day, for 45 years. Imagine that. A Belisha Beacon of kindness pulsing through the murk of a whole life.
5. I am full of admiration for the human race and its capacity for kindness. So it can have another observation all to itself. Kindness kindness something blindness, I’ll come back to this later.
6. When someone starts a sentence ”I’m not being …”, they always are.
7. Actions speak louder after four pints.
Bach: beats misogynistic hip-hop any day. Photograph: Stock Montage/Getty Images 8. All these memories darting through my mind like discarded fairground goldfish in a sewer. The random kindnesses of strangers, how they glide and shimmer.
9. Compatibility is hugely overrated. I have little in common with most of my friends and with just about the entirety of my wife.
10. Grandparenthood is a beautiful revelation. You have kids, you know you will never experience that feeling of unconditional love for anyone else, ever, and then it happens all over again. A heart-stoppingly beautiful miracle.
11. I have nothing against pets in theory. It’s just that, in reality, pets are noisy, selfish, practically incontinent, morally depraved and just really stupid. They are walking, flapping analogs of your own paranoid self-loathing. You take your soul-searching labrador for a walk and a chat. I’ll just watch a bit of telly.
12. One of the very best things about being old is you no longer have to pretend to like hateful music eg misogynistic hip-hop.
13. Or that awful whiney, bedwetting drivel everyone on Twitter recommends to one another.
14. And please don’t get me started on the subject of “jazz” again. In the garden of music, jazz is bindweed.
15. Bach, that’s your man. Bach, Bach, Benjamin Britten, Motown, rhythm and blues.
David Cameron: oily dollop. Photograph: Action Press/Rex Features 16. There is only one book in my life I genuinely regret ever having read: Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers. God, it hurts just to type the words. Really well written and so chillingly horrible. It left a nasty stain. Brr. Maybe I have purged it now. If that’s the case, thanks for listening.
17. The scarier the world becomes, the more important it is to focus on the correct use of “less” and ”fewer”.
18. But I cannot remember ever before feeling the visceral contempt I have for this gang of posh sociopaths. As a rough guide, I would say any government that sets the welfare of the comfortably off above the welfare of the old, the young, the sick, the poor, the oppressed, the disabled … well, call me old-fashioned but any government like that wants hosing down the drain.
19. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with some fat cabbie moaning about the economy.
20. A pre-internet world is unthinkable.
21. There wasn’t any internet 30 years ago.
Of course He exists: it says so in the Bible. Photograph: Stephen Sweet/Alamy 22. In 30 years’ time, they will be looking back at our world and it will be unthinkable.
23. Sixty observations is suddenly feeling like quite a lot, to be honest.
24. Holidays seem so much more arseache than they are worth.
25. A poor workman always blames his ex-wife, or the meds.
26. A stitch in time saves act three of most Star Trek episodes.
27. No news is BBC Breakfast.
28. All British prime ministers are cartoonish. Churchill was at the dispatch box when I was born. Coronation year, 1953 – a world of smog and tripe. Since then I have coughed and chewed my way through a lot of prime ministers. Eden: suave man-cloud. Macmillan: human coelacanth. Douglas-Home: skeletal gasbag. Wilson: squeaky pillock. Heath: juddering berk. Wilson again: deflated blimp. Callaghan: lumbering clod. Thatcher: pitiless monster. Major: mumbling sod. Blair: lying shit. Brown: gasping boulder. Cameron: oily dollop. I never warmed to any of them.
Respect: the Queen has been on the throne for 60 years. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 29. In my experience, NHS bureacracy will conspire to kill you.
30. In my experience, NHS staff will conspire to save your life.
31. Seriously, when was the last time someone in the NHS bent the rules to help you or a member of your family out? Exactly. Two days ago, for me. I wonder if privatisation will discourage that sort of thing.
32. Obviously I don’t wonder if those politically connected bastards siphoning wealth from a system set up as a public benefit will discourage compassionate, off-book favours. At all.
33. Here’s another observation. How in the name of Dawkins’s bollocks did those of us opposing the unmandated dismantling of the NHS get to be labelled anti-progressive? I want the NHS to be reformed and to remain in public ownership. Stop pretending we can’t do both.
35. There is not a single bad mood that cannot be lifted, however grudgingly, by reading a Larkin poem.
36. I did some home-schooling once. It is possible to teach the entire 20th-century social history of Britain from Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings.
37. It’s funny and comforting to know that after you are dead, you will still get spam.
38. I believe saturation CCTV surveillance to be a blessing for society.
39. I fell under the spell of the satirist Brian O’Nolan when I was 20. He has been my flag ever since. Recreate yourself (Flann O’Brien) and from there, recreate the world. Genius. Heartthrob.
40. I am definitely going to give up smoking.
41. Oh shut up, of course God exists. Even if God turns out to be just science in fancy pyjamas. Honestly, you think all this stuff “militant here in Earth” is not being saved to some “memory cloud”? There are Tumblr accounts for people’s bloody cats.
42. You can’t judge a book by the shrill reviews on Amazon.
43. A problem shared is all over the Mail on Sunday.
44. Two’s company, three’s your friend’s irritating new iPhone app.
45. I love the BBC, the way I loved my frail and elderly mother.
46. Yes, now I realise I have got to No 46 already, we are all the children of postwar Britain. The BBC is our frail, elderly mother and the NHS is our frail, elderly father.
47. But those 10,726,614 people who voted Tory three years ago. Yeah, thanks to some voodoo mathematics, they are apparently in charge of everything now. It’s like when Marlo and his heartless soldiers took the corners in The Wire and now they are mugging our frail, elderly parents and we just stay out of sight like the useless bubbles we are.
48. Never mind the evidence, accept my anecdotage: this weather’s not right.
49. I abhor violence. It solves nothing.
50. Why, then, do I keep thinking that if I had two weeks left to live and just one decent throw of the arm left in me, oh man, I would really want to punch Iain Duncan Smith in the face.
51. Saying sorry and thanks. That is what happens in church. People counting their blessings and acknowledging they have done wrong. I struggle to understand why some people want this to be snuffed out.
52. In Lunch Top Trumps, “armagnac” beats “pudding”.
53. I don’t entirely trust people who use the word “vile” a lot.
54. The royal family. Bunch of trust-funded hippies. Good riddance.
55. But not quite yet. I respect the Queen. I do, honestly. She has been Queen for as long as I have lived. Good effort. Once she is dead, though, enough’s enough. The idea of my grandchildren having to stand up for organic sausage king Charles III or any of those other doughnuts, ha ha, come on.
56. Before you say anything nasty about someone, just pause for a second and browse through some really good adjectives in your head.
57. Leave the euthanasia law alone. We all know how it works. A smudge, a nudge, a slipping away.
58. “Nice snare sound.” Always say this to someone you like when they are playing you terrible music, especially if it’s their demo. This insincere but specific observation allows both parties to sidestep more general, and potentially cruel, discussion. If the person insists, they deserve everything they get, starting with “shit snare sound”.
59. I am proud to be part of a culture in which attitudes towards sexuality are moving rapidly from fear and outrage to love and apathy. Let’s not forget that Glad to be Gay was banned by the BBC in 1978 on completely non-musical grounds.
60. When people finish a sentence by saying “the list is endless”, it always means they have run out of things to list.