Ever since I have inhabited old age, I have looked and listened, mostly in vain, for news of what it is like for others who inhabit it too. Naturally, I'm interested in its well-known depredations, the physical and mental ones that people in their forties and fifties so publicly dread. And who would not delight in the theatrical props of old age - the pills and sticks, the shrieking hearing aids and the tricks for countering the loss of names and threads and glasses. But that's not all. I have a fond hope that in old age there may be new kinds of time and of pleasure, perhaps even new kinds of vitality, and that, though we forget and muddle and fail to hear things, there may be moments when we truly understand what's going on for the first time. But then I've always been a late developer.