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If I keep getting younger at this rate, I'll give Benjamin Button a run for his money


They say you’re only as old as you feel, and Phil Brown is determined to become living proof.

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The older I get the younger I feel. Does this resonate with any of you?

I am now, shall we say mature but as I often say, inside me is a 17-year-old Gold Coast surfie trying to get out. If he did things could get a bit messy. Being a 17-year-old Gold Coast surfie in the 1970s was a tad unruly.

But you get my point? The body ages but if you’re lucky, the mind doesn’t. I have had conversations about this on numerous occasions and found this to be true.

Bob Dylan wrote about this phenomenon in his 1964 song My Back Pages which includes the refrain … “Ah, but I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now.” He was talking about his political views and his general mindset I guess but I think it applies to the subject in hand quite perfectly.

When I was young, I was positively ancient. There’s a photo of me in The Kowloon Kid, my memoir about growing up in Hong Kong, sitting in a lounge chair in a dressing gown with my newish spectacles on and the cat propped above me on the back of the chair. I look like some sort of professor and I was only ten.

My favourite aunty used to say that as a boy I was wise beyond my years but when I got into my teens and twenties, I proved her wrong time and time again.

In those days it felt like the weight of the world was upon my shoulders.

There was a period in my late teens, when I decided I wanted to be a writer, when I thought, briefly, that I was C.S. Lewis. I smoked a pipe at the time, one of those Sherlock Holmes ones. (My mum bought it for me because she thought a pipe would be better than cigarettes) I would sit in my room, again in a dressing gown, puffing my pipe and reading in a battered old armchair my parents had bought for me.

One night my slightly younger sister was having some friends over and they were making a bit of noise, so I went downstairs in my gown and slippers, pipe in hand to ask them to shut up and, if memory serves me, the response was … “Hey grandpa, why don’t you shut up!” And I was only 19!

I wrote a chapter for a book entitled Growing Old (Dis) Gracefully which was published in 2008 in which I decried ageing after being described as a “crusty old guy from the paper” on the airwaves by a callow commercial radio personality. This was inaccurate because I worked for Brisbane News at the time which was a magazine.

I was a lot younger then than I am now (funny that) and I didn’t think I was old and crusty. Am I now? I don’t know …you be the judge.


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