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Forever young;Talkback;Features and arts

I am now one those people who have only ever looked half their actual age. It was a nuisance to me when I was 16 and wanted to get into the cinema to watch an X-rated film or the newsagents to buy Woodbines. I was rejected from both because I looked about eight. But now I'm 50 and I look 25, I'm well pleased with myself. I can swan around, still a young man.

Or so I kid myself. Until my daughter says "Dad you must be joking. You, twenty-something?" and runs away laughing. But beneath the designer shirt and the flippant attitude to life is a serious person trying to get out.

It's the mature me that's not been allowed to grow up. It's the side of me that wants drive at 12 miles an hour on a Saturday morning in the middle of town looking for somewhere to park, not accelerate like a 20-year-old (or a stupid 20-year-old, according to my wife). It's the side of me that wants to do coach holidays and not touch white water rafting. I worry about this oldie in me. He's as dangerous as the repressed teenager that lurks in many of my contemporaries.

What I'd really like to be is a mixture. I'd like to be the person I was, as young as I fancy I look, with all that wonderful zest for life, and the person I am, fully matured. Richard, meet Richard. How I wish I was him.

And I'd like these selves to talk to each other. I'd like to meet the five-year-old me, for example, just starting school, and tell him everything's going to be all right.

Actually, it wasn't. I cried when I entered my first educational establishment. If I'd known then, at five, that I'd still be in one at 50-something, I'd have bawled even louder.

Richard Daubney teaches in the South-east

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