When I’m Sixty-Four

I opened the Chrome browser for a new web-search yesterday, and this is what popped up:

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Google have my date-of-birth, of course, linked to my GMail account. At which point I finally remembered, “Oh, yeah, it is my birthday, isn’t it”. Kinda forget such things at my age, especially when there’s no-one directly around who’d remember it for or with me.

But which birthday? A few grey-cells were duly rubbed together to bring up the answer, which aligns with a certain well-known song.

Ah. Right. That birthday. That song. Interesting. “You’ll be older too”? – yeah, I’d kinda noticed the getting-creakier and all that…

In general, my father hated pop-music (though ‘hated’ is too strong a word for such a mild-mannered man). But that old Beatles song was one that he really did like – in particular, its bright optimism for the future. Which in his own case, sadly, was perhaps a bit misplaced: he died several years short of that personal date, so much so that my now elderly mother recently passed the bleak anniversary at which she’s been longer a widow than she was married.

The song hasn’t served me all that well either, at least in a personal sense. “Birthday greetings”? – okay, yeah, there’d been a few of those over the years, mostly from people who still just-about remember me from days long gone. But “Will you still be sending me a Valentine”? – nope, don’t think I’ve ever had one. And “Mine forever more”? – I’d hoped so, but in reality the would-be ‘forever’ turned out to be just under three years, and that side of life has not been that much better since. “Every summer we could rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight” – no, I’ve never been there; and anyway it’s been well over a quarter-century now since there’s been any ‘We’ for whom it would be worth using that term. And no “cuddle grandchildren on your knee”, for the simple reason that there’ve been no children either. Oh well. Kinda hurts sometimes.

Yet that song does make a lot more sense if I reframe the ‘We’ not as with a single person, but with a whole community – this community around enterprise-architecture and the like. “I could be handy, mending a fuse / when your lights are gone”? – well, perhaps not that exactly, given that I’m one of those, uh, less practical people, but I certainly could be handy when the thinking is gone, or shared sense of direction for architecture and suchlike is gone. “If it’s not too dear”, and “We shall scrimp and save”? – yeah, I’ve had a lot of practice at that, too, and helping businesses do likewise to get ready for the huge changes coming up ahead.

And there are a lot of changes coming up ahead for me too. Okay, I’m supposedly at the age where a traditional ’employer’ would expect me to be getting ready to retire: but instead, I reckon I’m doing my best work ever, barely gotten started as yet. A lot of work happening behind the scenes to get material more ready for a much broader market; a bunch of new projects and training-courses coming together; and a true team solidly behind and with me at last, to help make it all happen.

So, no, not so sad after all – in fact, yes, a lot of optimism and hope. Watch This Space, perhaps?

And in the meantime:

Now I’ve got older, losing my hair
Many years ago
I still have so many things to show you how
To lift up your enterprise, and make it go ‘Wow’!
If you’ve been a-looking for someone who’ll know
What your architecture’s for
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
Now I’m sixty-four?

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, working away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Tell me what you’re needing more?
And will you still need me, will you still feed me
Now I’m sixty-four?

Share And Enjoy? 🙂

9 Comments on “When I’m Sixty-Four

  1. Happy birthday Tom !

    This post is quite funny because: first, some weeks ago my wife saw the same message from Google ; second, it will be my birthday too in 2 days ; and third, I really do like The Beatles 😉

  2. Happy birthday, Tom!
    I missed to write this on a proper day, but looking forward to an occasion for compensating it while meet you in person at a your workshop soon!

  3. Hi all

    Many thanks to you all for the birthday-wishes and suchlike (and I hope your birthday went well for you too, Jean-Baptiste?). Kinda leaving me all blushing and embarrassed… 🙂

    I just ought to say, though, that I wasn’t fishing for birthday-wishes – honest! 🙂 What this was really about was… well, yeah, it’s kinda complicated… On the one side there’s genuine sadness that my father died several years younger than I am now: the song meant a lot to him, and – unlike me – he’d had the kind of life for which those lyrics genuinely made sense. On the other side, for me it’s more that I’ve “grown older” with and through the work itself, rather than in the classic ‘nuclear-family’ structures – and for me, in my own life and aptly-named ‘career’, these lyrics more accurately describe a shared-relationship with the community rather than a single other-person. To me, that’s where the optimism of that song really shines out.

    I’m also reminded of the first ‘real job’ that I had, working as an illustrator for the child-development research pioneer Mary Sheridan, who started the more public phase of her real work when she retired from the [UK] Department of Health at almost the same age as I am now. If I can achieve even a tenth of what she did for children’s lives and wellbeing during the following years of her life, I’ll be doing well… – seems like a worthwhile goal to aim for, anyway.

    Thanks again, all!

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