In Downton Abbey the week before last one character was lampooned for putting something akin to boot polish in his hair to look younger and it sort of reminded me of myself because this year I’ve taken half-hearted steps to arrest the signs of age. The face I look at in the mirror is every bit 38 going on 39. For years I cheated age. Every year I’d get the students to guess my age and in aggregate they thought I was in my early 20s when I was in my mid 30s. Even Westerners got caught out. I remember being at a friend’s place in Beijing about 3 years ago and his American flatmate being shocked when I told him I was 35. He thought I was about 23. But I’d say in the space of two years it’s now all caught up with me. The hair is now greying and thinning, the skin less elastic, the eyes sunken so that a second bag is clearly defined. I don’t look a bad 38 but certainly not a good one. There are much better specimens-née 1975- out there than me. David Beckham, Russell Brand, Enrique Iglesias. Their far better diets and better genes make them look great at 38 but my body is showing clear signs of middle age. So what is to be done? Well I’m grateful to my body for the reminder that life is short. But that said there are 2 ways of approaching the 40s, 50s and beyond. Like a pot bellied aging man who has some sort of ceasefire agreement with the aging process or like a rock star. You are eternally under 40 if you are a rock star. Rock is a young man’s universe. So rock stars, as you know, dye their hair. Rock stars wear Converse All Stars, jeans and t-shirts. Where do I see myself in all this? Neither here nor there. My anti-aging regime this year has to been to buy a hair max comb and not use it, join the gym and stop going, buy a bottle of Grecian 2000 that I forget to apply, to take my vitamins only sporadically. And not eat 5 a day. I am definitely an unemployed, poverty line 38, not a prime of life, power citizen 38. Of course, I could do the gym and the diet without resorting to fakery. There’s something about laser combs and dye which is just not me. Your hair is supposed to fall out, that’s why it happens. It’s like leaves falling off trees in Autumn. It’s a beautiful thing and I dig it. It’s all part of the wheel of life. Trying to ignore middle age is like sun bathing in November. But here’s the thing. There’s been a scheduling mix up here. Middle age, I'm all for it, but I wasn’t supposed to look this age ’til I was 41 or rather, I’m not quite ready. I’m still in my 30s for goodness sake. So all I’m contemplating doing is slowing things down somewhat so that they happen at the right time. I’ll let you know if I use that comb again.