Bishop Richard Holloway, with the aid of great poets and writers, looks back on his life now that he has passed his allotted three score years and ten and wonders what his decreasing future holds and how best to cope with it.
He recalls being young, celebrating the constant shift and change of history and embracing every fad and fashion that appeared. So it has been a surprise to realise, almost without noticing, that he has joined the ranks not only of the old but of the old fashioned - the crazy shift of change embraced so eagerly in youth is the very energy that is now carrying him into the past along with steam trains and shopping-free Sundays.
He says, "Hardly surprising that some of us oldies become bitter and angry and feel like strangers in our own homes. Some think it's a modern disease, bred of the accelerating rate of change in our world today. In fact, the bitter old person is a constant in history."
Go back as far as you can and the old grumble about the young. In the century before the birth of Christ, the Roman poet Horace recorded an old man. "Tiresome, complaining, a praiser of the times that were when he was a boy, a castigator and censor of the young generation," he wrote.
It seems to be ageing itself that corrodes the spirit, not change as such, which is why growing old can be spiritually dangerous - anger against the young for being young, rage against the world for becoming an unfamiliar place, fury at change and its sister decay.
Richard's solution is "bite the bullet, hand over the reins and sit in the sun to enjoy what's left.".