13 MARCH 1993, Page 36

Entering My Sixty-second Year

I've always had this dread of growing old In untidiness: a worn tobacco pouch; The edges of a tablecloth rubbed and frayed Into tassels; accumulators; a deep drawer Full of tram maps and busted pipes; a couch Where a dusty cushion pictures an esplanade In faded Devon; all my grandfather's store. Long after he was dead, and his goods were sold (But mostly chucked away) those hoarded treasures Seemed what it meant to live on to his age, And I was bound to end up with a cruel And pointless load of close-at-hand bric-a-brac Stuck round me, like the toys fixed in the cage Of a tamed songbird. Dud capsules of lighter fuel, Old tins, ancient Pelicans, today brings back The dreadful sight of them, an old man's pleasures (And his failures) — I can feel his presence In the junk in my own room. So now I'm able To picture myself his age, I'll up and set The VTR, spread brand-new books among The dustless disks on my working table, And fight back with Order; hoping to forget That because this is my life, my style, the young May see it as my trash, my obsolescence.

Alan Brownjohn