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F OR sixty years, the thought had never entered my head, let alone sneered daily in my face, but that was before I read that the average human lifespan is around one thousand months.

Some mental arithmetic confirmed worst fears - a horrible jolt by any standards.

Recently, I passed seven hundred and sixty eight months and, if life can be likened to a train journey from London to Bangor, Rhyl is now behind me and the final destination - the chucking off point - is only a little way down the track.

But you never know, I tell myself; my systems might not pack in as the Pendolino is wont to do and I could, with luck, chug on ticketless to a metaphorical Holyhead. Still, as all lines eventually must, the line most definitely ends there.

I've no wish to spread doom and gloom or, as I've apparently done in the past, to have the Daily Post staff weeping in corners.

Yet it's quite amazing that once a thought gets into mainstream consciousness, it keeps cropping up, apropos of nothing, and since my first encounter with the thousand months thing, I've lost count of its outings.

I don't take it personally, as prods or reminders from on high; it's just that once thunk, thoughts can't be unthunk, any more than humankind can ever forget how to build a nuclear bomb.

This current mortality-awareness was provoked by the mundane task of redecorating the bathroom, which only needed doing after I washed down the walls because, in Spring's unforgiving light, they looked ever so slightly dusty. In the interests of efficiency, I used very hot water, and brought off a load of paint.

Anyway, allowing three days for the job, I booked the carpet fitter for Tuesday and set-to last Thursday. Tuesday's early hours, I was still glossing, so either time's speeding up or I'm slowing down - running low on fuel, engine clapped out - although there's a theory that time turns hare-like with age because our memories are so full, whereas in empty-headed childhood, it creeps like the fabled tortoise.

Whichever, we won't win the race.

For me, decorating counts as injudicious exertion.

I ache all over and my left shoulder blade has again slipped anchor to scrape, rather agonisingly, against muscle and bone. I have physiotherapy to stop the drift but it takes time.

At the hospital, they wheel out this plastic working skeleton to demonstrate exactly what needs fixing. I want one - it would look great in the hall - but they're hideously expensive.

We're going to the Body Worlds exhibition soon and son suggested the plastinating Dr Gunther von Hagens might flog me something cheap if I ask nicely.

I couldn't live with real bones, though. They truly would haunt
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 22, 2008
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