You expect celebrity kids to grow up into adults with dependencies; you expect 80s pop stars to turn into casualties: Gary Coleman, Michael Jackson, Jason Donavan; Adam Ant, Whitney Houston, Billy Mackenzie, Billy Idol, MC Hammer, Stuart Adamson… But the phenomenon that scares me is that of the thirtysomething swashbucklers of my youth—then celebrated for their own youth—hitting “real” middle age: Martin Amis, Simon Rattle, Harrison Ford, Richard Dawkins.

Yesterday morning I was at the gym, waving my limbs on various instruments of torture as part of my irregular but frequent efforts to shoo away Death, when I had another scare. (Death himself was propped up in the opposite corner, munching pointlessly on a full-fat chocolate eclair as he fingered the edge of his scythe with a marble phalange and kept a beady eye-socket on the sixtysomething geezer puffing away on a rowing machine next to him.) I glanced up at one of the TVs from the Nautilus™. David Gower was presenting the Test Match coverage. I mistook him for Richie Benaud.

(Later on the same day, I was surprised to discover that one of the regulars from the corner shop was away on paternity leave. Even the girl on the counter—who’s definitely too young to vote—was surprised. It turned out that the boy’s 16-year-old wife had just given birth.)