Have I benefited from living to 85? Might I just as well have snuffed it at 70? In short: are there things I now do better?
Verse. This one’s easy. I didn’t write sonnets until my mid-seventies so it’s a case of nothing vs. something. However “something” is not necessarily good.
Wine. Yes, absolutely. By the simple expedient of spending more per bottle. At 70, top whack was about £12; now it’s £35-plus. Also the price of champagne no longer terrifies me.
DIY (Do-it-yourself for the sake of Rouchswalve). At 70 I tried, at 85 I don’t. Definitely an improvement.
Difficult books (Especially Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, by Robert Musil). I read all the ones that matter between ages 60 and 75. These days I merely refer to them, casually, in passing. Much more relaxing.
Driving quickly but legally. This happens only on French motorways. I have added various relations as Named Drivers to my car insurance. Thus I drive less. Thus take fewer risks. I may even live longer.
Writing style. A subjective territory with many keen to disagree. Let’s say I now cut out whole paragraphs; once only single adjectives. Elmore Leonard would probably issue a qualified “Yes”
Mathematics. I used to wrestle with word-based definitions (eg, “is inversely proportional to”). Now I’m more familiar with the symbols. But Dirac could still be all under-water.
Shyness with women. Oh, heaps and heaps. Mainly because of the compliments I have received. Not because I’ve earned them, of course, more out of pure charity. “Say his nose is Roman. Watch his eyes brighten.”
Fruit. I eat it in tonnes (ie, metric tons). Few people say there is anything wrong with this.
Concise blog lists. Getting better by the second.