I’M FEELING the pressure.

I will be 57 in January and reckoned on having just a few years left before I could retire to my armchair to read all the books I haven’t had time to look at, tidy my flowerbeds, sit for hours in tea rooms with friends, sort out all my photo albums and basically potter about doing not very much.

I had planned my old age and was looking forward to it.

But now those dreams of a sedentary life are being scuppered - because there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as old age any more.

‘Your 60s are the new 20’, one newspaper announced, ‘You aren’t old until you’re 80!’ claimed another, ‘When old isn’t old any more’, said a third.

The over-50s are embracing life as never before, travelling further, partying louder, starting their own businesses and having far more fun than people 30 years younger.

They are fitter than generations less than half their age and many want to keep on working well beyond retirement age.

Many retirees take degree courses and a growing number - currently 43 per cent - make up the so-called ‘oldpreneurs’, heading new start-ups.

At least that is what surveys tell us. The latest piece of research involving the over-50s reveals that most don’t consider ‘old’ as being anything under 83.

A survey of 2,000 people carried out for an insurance company, also found that 42 per cent have no intention of slowing down.

This is not music to my ears. Life is so frenetic, I was looking forward to winding down, chilling out, leaving behind that Monday morning feeling and all that goes with a life of nose-to-the-grindstone.

I want my leaving card to tell me to ‘Relax, put your feet up, enjoy your garden, don’t do too many crosswords,’ not ‘Have fun backpacking round India and good luck as a hot shot CEO’.

I want to slow down, not speed up.

I’ve begun to wonder whether all this talk is a Government conspiracy designed to eradicate old age as we know it and save them some cash. If we’re not getting ‘old’ until we’re 80-plus, there’s no need for free bus passes, TV licences and cold weather payments until then. And we all know what’s happening with pensions: just a few years ago I could have claimed mine at 60, now I’ll be almost 67. With all this talk about ‘nifty fifties’ and 60 being ‘the new middle age, It won’t be long before the qualifying age is racked up to 90.

Some people may want to stay young forever, but I don’t. I keep looking round the house, mentally making a note of all the things I will when I am old and have the time. I find the idea of gardening exciting, trips to garden centres, with cups of tea thrown in, even more so, and I’m hankering after a few coach trips to the Highlands and Islands.

Trekking across Nepal has no place in my old person’s itinerary. As for starting my own business? I’ll run to the odd car boot sale to bring in a bit of extra cash, but that’s about it.

It is true, we are living longer and feeling fitter for longer, but this idea of perpetual youth is not what I - and I am sure there are others who feel the same - want to hear.

Obviously, there are many pensioners who are not so fit and active in old age and it is clearly a bonus to remain in good health and enjoy life. But white water rafting and Dragon’s Den? I’m surprised we aren’t getting more over 60s on 'The Apprentice'.

And how come I could get a free bus pass at the age of 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, when in England it won’t happen until seven years later? Sixty clearly isn’t the new 20 there.