I think I'm getting old. In fact I'm sure I'm getting old. Being realistic, I knew it would come, it always does, but I didn't expect it quite yet, and I certainly hadn't prepared for some of the things that come with it. The creaks in the morning I can handle, the aches at the end of a tiring day I can put up with. I can even accept walking into a room and wondering what the hell I went in there for.
The thing that is hardest to come to terms with is the intolerance. I've always seen myself as being particularly tolerant - or should that be peculiarly tolerant? - noted for it, in fact. Considerate to a fault, me. I've even been used as an example in a magazine article about British consideration and tolerance.
So, what's gone wrong? I hear you ask. I wish I knew. But I don't think it's all entirely down to me. But that could just be me being a tad intolerant. I'll explain.
Let's use an example. When I'm at work and lunchtime comes around, I head off to buy something in the town. I probably shouldn't say where I go, but let's just say that it rhymes with Barks and Fencer. From the office it's a fairly short walk through the town centre. On a sunny day it's a pleasant walk, at any other time it's just something you have to go through to get to where you want to be.
The thing I find annoying, the thing that seems to have eroded my tolerance and consideration, and Britishness, is demonstrated by a very small, insignificant few steps on that journey between my office and where my lunch is waiting. It's the doorway of Barks and Fencer. Yes, just the doorway - I have other gripes about this world-renowned, seller of underpants, knickers and things to cover them up, but they'll keep for now.
The shop is in what used to be Taunton's second-best-known hotel, which closed a long time ago and got repopulated by various things, including a rather fine Waterstone's book shop and, of course, the pants shop. The doorway is nothing special. Automatic double doors peel themselves back as you approach and, although I've never actually stopped and gawped, presumably close behind you. If there's no one in front of me I quite like doing a Jedi hand sweep as I approach, making it look like I'm opening them with my incredible powers.
As I say, the doorway is nothing special yet I fear it affects a lot of people in nasty ways. Sometimes it doesn't believe I exist and won't open when it sees (or doesn't see) me coming. It's a bit embarrassing to slam into the door when you think it should have opened for you, and you believe it's just playing games and will cave in at the last moment, and doesn't. But even that isn't the problem.
I think we've established that this is probably the most special completely unremarkable door in the universe. And it must have unseen powers beyond anyone's imagination. The nub of the matter is this. When other people walk through the door I can only assume one of two things. Either it drains them of all energy and impetus, or the shop full of underpants and my lunch is so enthralling that people entering are completely bamboozled as to what to do next. This is because every time I follow someone through the door, as soon as they've set foot beyond it, they stop, completely and utterly. It's like they become welded to the ground and just can't go on. It's like they weren't prepared for the wonders they'd find inside. It's bloody annoying.
And it doesn't stop there, even though they do!
On the way out it's exactly the same. People walk out through the doors, take just one tiny, infant step onto the pavement and freeze, bewildered, presumably wondering where the hell that sunlight, or Somerset rain, is coming from; wondering why there was a sudden change in temperature. Again, it's bloody annoying.
In the grand scheme of things this isn't remotely important, but it wears my tolerance painfully away to just below the skin where all the nerve endings live. It makes me mutter under my breath, and probably much worse, as I nearly bump into one of these bizarrely transfixed people, or have to avoid them dramatically.
Is it just me, or does this happen in other places and annoy other people?