My name is Andrew Tuck and I am 55.
Oh my god, that feels better.
Let me tell you about the “outing” — that’s if you haven’t already scrolled down the Weekend Edition in age-related horror.
David Stewart runs AGEIST, which sets out to challenge stereotypes around age. He wants brands, businesses — everyone — to park their preconceptions. He runs a great website that includes interviews with people north of 50. David had a ticket for the conference (he was also a panellist last year) and asked if I would do an interview for his site. So we set up a call and talked about the history of Monocle and the challenges of running a media brand. Oh, and he asked me how old I was. I was rash. I told him.
I had somehow imagined the “55” bit would be discreetly tucked away in the copy, no more visible than a baby kangaroo in its mother’s pouch. This, it turns out, is not the AGEIST’s style and when he sent me the link to the published story, a big whacking “55” was in the headline. Less baby kangaroo, more like a fricking alien leaping out of someone’s chest to grab you by the throat (note to self: use more contemporary cultural references). I may have gasped. Tom Reynolds, our managing editor who sits opposite me, asked if I was OK. But then he has a copy of my passport so has always known the truth; at least that blackmail threat will now be gone.
It’s not that I have lied about my age in the past. Well, not too many times. It’s just that I have been sucked in by the language that everyone uses once they cross over the border of 40 and find themselves in a land they hadn’t quite packed for. So instead of having a 50th birthday, it’s a “significant” birthday. Instead of saying they are 49, people are in their forties. David Blaine couldn’t do misdirection like a closeted 40-year-old.
And I get it. We are in a world where people judge your views, fitness, attractiveness and ambition by that number (if you’re not careful). Well if that’s your game, matey, scroll on. Because like most 55-ers I know, I am still hoping to one day feel like an adult — and until then it’s just all possibility and a bathroom cabinet filled with ever more expensive moisturisers.
In Madrid I got to interview, on stage, the celebrated urbanist Jan Gehl, who spoke with passion and clarity about everything from mobility to density (and who, by the way, could have a career in stand-up). During the Q&A he was asked how come he’s so fresh and active at 82. He replied: “I think I am doing meaningful work and it’s given me enormous energy.” He’s inspiring.
Anyhow, back to me. As we all know, these revelations can have an impact on those around you so I thought I had better phone my partner and let him know about my public declaration. He had a simple response: “You’re 56.” Cue second gasp.
This was originally published July 6, 2019. Please sign up for Monocle’s fresh, insightful dispatches here. They are a daily must-read for all of the AGEIST team.
Here is Andrew Tuck’s original profile that he refers to in the piece.