BY THE time this month ends I will be 60.

I can barely type the numbers without feeling a little shocked.

Me, 60 - how did this happen? An age I still associate with retirement, pensions, Wallace Arnold coach trips and blue rinses.

When I was young that is what 60 meant. Sixty was seriously OLD. By that age many people had left work. Companies rarely allowed you to stay on beyond retirement age, which at that time, for women, was 60.

In those days it was an age at which you joined Darby & Joan clubs, ate pensioner specials in smoky pub corners and sat in in village halls of an evening enjoying beetle drives (for anyone under 40, it’s a game - nothing to do with cars).

Generally speaking, women of that age wore drab-coloured clothing and would more than likely have an ‘old lady’ perm in a dubious shade of violet.

My mum used to help at our village WI, who held special outings for over 60s. I’ve seen photos of these excursions to the coast - every woman looks like Hilda Ogden, and the men look like Stan.

Thank heaven I was not 60 back then.

Now, 60 isn’t seen as old at all. Sixty is the new 40, or even the new 30, depending upon which survey you want to believe.

Nowadays it’s one size fits all. People in their 60s behave like people in their twenties. They are more likely to be found trekking in Nepal than on a cruise to the Canary Islands.

They are fitter than ever before, filling gyms and swimming pools, joining running clubs and signing up for marathons.

Nowadays it is not unusual to start a university degree at 60. You only have to watch University Challenge to see how many mature students - and by that I mean over 50 - now populate those seats of learning.

People my age don’t dress like the pensioners I grew up with, being more likely to wear the teenage uniform of leggings and sweatshirts than the ‘knitting circle’ attire of OAPS in the 1960s and 70s.

What used to pass as old isn’t any more. Look at Debbie Harry. If anyone can make you feel young at 60 it’s her. As a teenager I danced to Blondie in local nightclubs, and here we are, more than 40 years later, and she is preparing for another world tour, looking just as fabulous aged 75 as she did in the 1970s.

Not that I will ever relive my youth as she is doing. No amount of Nivea will remove the facial wrinkles, I can’t get away from the streaks of grey in my hair, my joints sometimes ache and I definitely tire more easily.

Sixty may be the new 20, 30, or 40, but I don’t need reminding that I’ve lived for six decades. There are some life changes you can’t escape from, no matter how hard you try - the fact I find gardening exciting and have an insatiable appetite for TV programmes about rail journeys.

There are other dead giveaways as to my age - I still associate the word wireless with radios and the expression ‘pants’ with underwear. And I am still not entirely sure what Kardashians do.

I may not - and never will be - be down with the kids, but inside I still feel young and find it a comfort to know that 60 is no longer seen as a time to hang up your previous life and enter a phase of garden centres and daytime TV.

On the down side, I can’t claim my pension for another seven years and I‘m very disappointed I won’t be getting a free bus pass - something I would have benefitted from had I lived in Scotland, Wales or London.

But I can live with that. I won’t be the oldest swinger in town, but I’m going to embrace my sixth decade and enjoy it.