GIVEN the practice these days for a given landmark age to be dubbed ‘the new (insert appropriate 10 years younger)’, yesterday I celebrated my ‘new 40th’ birthday.

Actually, plain old 50 will do.

I’ve never quite been able to generate the enthusiasm required to be bothered about asserting that I feel “10 years younger than I am.”

For the time being, I walk the Earth. That is sufficient.

Seriously though, the chalking up of the half century continues to be greeted in some quarters like an indescribable calamity.

But it’s just another number. The problem is, it is another number that comes laden with leaflets, and e-mails from ‘well meaning’ (money grabbing) companies keen for you to enhance your pension, or take out a special life insurance policy, or go on a holiday specially tailored for the older person.

I’ve had a few of these companies attempt pre-emptive strikes in the weeks leading up to my 50th.

They seemingly cannot wait to relieve me of more money or pack me off on a Mediterranean cruise with other 50-somethings, a prospect I find about as appetising, as a Derby County supporter, as being forced to have the legend ‘I Love Nottingham Forest’ tattooed on my forehead.

Still, a cruise might do me good. After all, every advert I have ever seen relating to these holidays, from companies catering for older people, features photographs of folk so bursting with health that clearly part of the onboard entertainment involves feasting on the blood of the young.

They smile, staring out into the Mediterranean blue yonder, full - if somewhat silver - heads of hair billowing in the sea breeze, mouths full of unfeasibly white teeth that cannot possibly be their own, so bright one is almost blinded by the glare.

Ugh. Day after day on a ship, between admittedly attractive destinations, with other 50-somethings and beyond.

Pass me the needle. I’ll tattoo myself.

The latest age specific gumf to catch my attention is the Add To Your Life health self-assessment currently being pedalled by the NHS in Wales and the Welsh Government.

Targeting those who are 50 and over - me! still trying to get used to it – it purports to be “a free service to help you live longer, feel better, and stay healthy and active into the future.”

The first thing it does, after taking a few basic details, is to automatically offer a metric version of height, weight and waist size, which immediately got my back up.

As far as I am aware, there is no EU-style edict that states that such things have to be given in metric as well as imperial terms, so I’ll stick to the latter, thanks.

After that, it gets all personal about eating and drinking habits, mental health, eye health, and a raft of other stuff, then gives you a handy mark at the end, based on your answers.

To be honest, towards the end, I felt like I was stepping onto that cruise ship. Too many questions that poked and prodded at the edges of mortality for my liking, but then maybe it’s because I feel so well, that I don’t want to be reminded that one day, I won’t.

In the meantime, I suspect the e-mails about cruises and holidays will keep coming. But I’ll try my best to avoid being tempted into staring into the aforementioned Mediterranean blue yonder.. or visiting the tattoo parlour.

WITH England’s ignominious if expected exit at the group stages of the World Cup finals in Brazil just weeks away, the Football Association commission set up to revive the flagging fortunes of the English game has delivered its recommendations.

A new tier within the league system to accommodate Premier League ‘B’ teams, a ban on non-European Union players outside the top flight, a reduction in non- home grown players in Premier League squads, and the development of ‘strategic loan partnerships’ between clubs are the four key points.

The Premier League ‘B’ teams division would come in between the current League Two and Conference levels.

The ‘strategic loan partnership’ would involve, in theory, bigger clubs lending smaller clubs several younger players with a view to them gaining first team experience at a lower level, though the loaning club would have a bigger say than under the present loan system as to how those players are used.

It all sounds like a recipe for squabbling and bad blood between the clubs, especially those in the lower leagues, and the FA - but it is high time something radical was done, to try to boost the number and quality of English players coming through to the highest level.

Of course, the fortunes of the England team aren’t something football fans in Wales worry about too much.

But if this is done in the right way, and is not purely England-centric but applies to other young talent from the likes of Wales too, the international game here might just benefit as well.