America has its Carole King (80), and soon Britain will have its Carolean King (74).  Which of them would you rather hear sing?  Is Carole’s voice still sending out musical notes?  Will Charles live long enough to send himself a telegram?

Life, like a stage drama, has a beginning, a muddle, and an end.  It often seems we are living in the Age of Dissatisfaction, where most people want to be something they’re not.  Rich, thin, blonde, muscular, tall, rich, young, beautiful, and a rollover lottery winner.

Nonentities want to be somebodies, celebrities wish they had talent, actors yearn to be famous but Greta Garbo just wanted to be left alone.  In my younger and more vulnerable years, I wanted to be Fred Astaire with Sinatra’s singing voice and John Travolta’s disco skill but without his white suit.  Sadly, there is such a thing as reality.  And musicality.  And dry cleaners.

People like to categorise ages as Ages, have you noticed that?  Shakespeare did it, with his Seven Ages of Man, ranging from the “whining schoolboy creeping like a snail unwillingly to school,” to “the slippered pantaloon” (I’m saying nothing) “in toothless second childishness” (still I remain silent).

The French author Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a novel called The Age of Reason, but appeared to temporarily lose his own reason when he refused the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964.  I say ‘temporarily’, because he later recovered his wits enough to write to the Swedish Academy and ask for the prize money.  He was turned down, so they must have spent the cash on something else, in IKEA perhaps.  Sartre wrote another book entitled Iron in the Soul, and who could blame him?

In no particular order, most of us have lived through an Age of Innocence, an Age of Decadence, an Age of Doubt (Was I really that innocent?) and an Age of Anxiety.  When will the Age of Universal Peace and Wisdom come along?  Before or after the Age of Abandoned Hope? I wish I was still in the Middle Ages (40-50).

Some Ages are more popular than others.  When it comes to Ages of Revolution, we are spoiled for choice.  We have had the French Revolution with its Reign of Terror, the Russian Revolution with its serfs and scythes, and the Second Servile War, which frankly doesn’t sound up to much.  We even had an Industrial Revolution before microchips came along to make our  heads spin, and the First Pop Revolution took place at 78 revs per minute.

All of the Ages of Revolution could probably be subsumed under the Eve of Destruction, as sung by Barry McGuire: “You may leave here, for eight days in space, but when you return, it’s the same old place.”  If you keep on revolving, you end up back where you started.  Perhaps Barry has by now, since he is 87.

I developed my own pet Age, which I refer to as the Age of Excuses, invented while sheltering from the rain one day in the High Court in Edinburgh, no, really, I was in the gallery as a spectator.  I listened in awe as the pleas in mitigation were trotted out: “If excused a custodial sentence, my client has the offer of a job on the oil rigs.”  (Nicely non-specific.)  Or “It’s not a knuckle-duster, it’s a belt accessory.”  Less convincing excuses were “He fell on my knife,” and the claim that “holiday souvenirs” found in a suitcase could include gas canisters, stun guns and metal batons.  Guilty!

As I totter through my twilight years, I am less and less happy with any definition that includes the idea of all the world being a stage.  Perhaps Shakespeare’s 8th stage ought to have been the ‘Age of Denial’?  Not for me, though.

“It’s been on ‘Today’ – a pop singer no one’s heard of who had a hit no one remembers has died!”