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There's a world of difference between ageing and getting old - just ask Everald


A bad back can be a cause for reflection, but be careful not to dwell too long – you might stiffen up, writes Rebecca Levingston

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I was thinking about Kevin Rudd right before it happened.

Thinking how he’s either fitter, stronger and more flexible than he looks or handball is a deceptively easy sport. You start bouncing a tennis ball over a line when you’re six and you can still do it when you’re 64 (which is what Kevin turned last month).

There I was, facing a fierce 10 year old opponent in my hallway when I lunged forward, twisted slightly to the left and something in my back went ping.

I stood up immediately and knew I could not sit down. For hours I paced around knowing that I’d done something serious, but was in no pain while upright. So I stayed vertical until I worked up the courage to gingerly ease down on to a chair. Ah, life at age 44.

Getting older can sneak up on you. I remember when I thought 25 was old. Now I’m not sure when you get old. Maybe you don’t need to?

I just got invited to a 90th birthday party. Everald Compton loves to celebrate life so he’s planned a serious soiree. He’s the co-founder of National Seniors which is ironic because he’s the youngest nonagenarian I know.

He wants to drink whiskey and solve the problems of the world. Sparkly eyed and impatient in the best possible way, his energy is endless. I’m less than half his age and would be happy if I had a third of his enthusiasm.

I can’t go to Everald’s birthday party sadly. But I asked him if we could raise a glass to mark his milestone. To give you a sense of his humour and verve, here’s his response to me:

Looking forward to getting drunk with you Rebecca.
What time of day is best for you? Lunch, late afternoon or evening?
And what days in a week are often free in your diary?
Let me know and we can sort out a date.

I’ll let you know how the toast to Everald goes and what ageing secrets he’s prepared to share.

I’m honoured because Everald maintains a busy social schedule. He’s often in Canberra meeting with politicians of all persuasions to agitate for a better world. Last month Everald met the Queensland Governor to receive his Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the aged welfare sector.

Often we think we know what our more mature self will be like, but we’re usually wrong. Mick Jagger once said he couldn’t imagine still singing Satisfaction at 50 years old. He’s still belting it out at 78.

The public holiday Queenslanders enjoyed on Monday was thanks to the Queen who celebrated her 95th birthday this year. Is she still riding horses? Hope so.

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has been at the top of his game longer than some of his teammates have been alive. He’s still playing and scoring for one of the biggest teams in the world.

The age-gap between Ronaldo and some of his Manchester United squad is so large that some of the players have childhood photos of themselves standing starstruck next to a younger Cristiano.

The new NSW premier is 39 years old making him the youngest premier in that state’s history. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is 53 which is just a year older than the Queensland Premier and the lead singer of Powderfinger.

Madonna is 63. Her boyfriend is 27. Tom Cruise turns 60 next year. Will he ever look his age? Mission Improbable.

Turns out, my handball induced back injury made bending impossible so I navigated the following week by rarely touching my toes. Easy.

Putting on pants and shoes was a pain, but eventually I bounced back. Time for a rematch.

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