When you reach a certain age, attitudes change.
I’ve never been one to think about age. To me it’s irrelevant other than as a guide to the experience gained. All of life’s inevitable ups and downs have been encountered and lived through.
Having said that, the natural ageing process has its effects. Ergo, the older we get the more attention needed to lifestyle, exercise, diet, and importantly, the need for proper rest. Never before has this been so front of mind than when faced with the Covid pandemic.
Yet, notwithstanding, 21st century standards of healthcare and continual advances in preventative measures against previously life-threatening diseases have helped extend life expectancy. Add to this a greatly increased awareness of diet, evermore priority and encouragement given to physical fitness, a ‘use it or lose it’ attitude towards mental agility, a greater appreciation of the downsides of addiction to tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, and it all adds up to a better educated older generation in terms of healthy lifestyle. In health and fitness terms, to be 60 today is probably equivalent to being 50 for the previous generation. To be 70 is to be 60, 80 is to be 70, and so on.
Nevertheless, there is still a hangover in terms of attitude. We still tend to generalise, classify based on perception, and apply a broad brush. By way of illustration, to be over 65 is often seen as one or more of the following:
• Retired (by definition thought of as no longer required to work)
• Less capable of holding down a job
• Considered as ‘just’ a pensioner
• Less than able
• Behind the times
• Expected to sit back, relax, let younger folks take over
Such classification these days is, I believe, not just inappropriate, but plain wrong. The fact is that to have reached this ‘certain age’, you have experienced more, dealt with more, laughed more, cried more, overcome more, made more mistakes, and so learned a hell of a lot more as a result. Worth repeating – learned a lot more!
Rather than having less to offer, the fact is a fit and healthy 70-year-old should have a lot ‘more’ to offer.
It’s called wisdom – an immeasurable offering, but one possible of having more value than any bank balance or investment portfolio. One that cannot be overspent, cannot be robbed, be scammed, or subject to bad luck in investment management. Wisdom is in a bank that cannot be broken. And its dividend is always available, there ready to be called on 24/ 7 / 365.
All the above formed the backdrop to my debut novel ‘The Win’.
As a 70-year-old, I wanted to portray a fictional lead character of my age. I wondered if I could break the mould of the literary and film heroes James Bond, Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne, and others, mostly all of whom were/are cast in their early to mid-thirties, perhaps early to mid-forties, at a stretch maybe early 50’s.
So, my fictional lead character Ed Harrison is significantly older. And with his age comes all the added experience, the added ‘wisdom’. When coupled to a professional pedigree gained over twice as many years as those many younger fictional heroes, then the prospect surfaces of greater capabilities, deeper thought processes, more sophisticated strategies. A presence that might be equal to Bond, Reacher, and Bourne, combined. Truly, a fresh characterisation is possible.
Yet my Ed Harrison is human. Character flaws and frailties exist. Flaws that over his lifetime have festered and therefore become highly developed. But are they really flaws? Or are they characteristics born out of experience?
UK society as we know it today would certainly classify them as flaws. However, what if it is today’s society that is flawed. Certainly Ed Harrison’s experience suggests so. His past has served to create a particular belief system, one based on deeply felt frustrations. That coupled with his sense of pragmatism, a driving desire for real and effective solutions on how things should change, of how to fix the broken.
Throw in the consequence of age meaning less of a future to lose, less respect for the law as we know it, not so risk averse, then perhaps Ed Harrison can operate outside normal legal and moral constraints. Perhaps? No perhaps about it. Of course he can! He commits to what he determines and believes to be, simply, ‘right’. His pragmatism delivers!
And with his stage set in current times some very relatable (to the reader), frustrations emerge – politics and politicians, crass penal systems, law enforcement compromised by woke ideology, police underfunding, inequality, discrimination in terms of gender, colour, sexuality, religion and yes, age.
And so a tale unfolds. Ed Harrison’s psyche comes to The Win’s readers in stark clarity. Enabled by his background in espionage his newfound wealth returns him to a world once again revolved around secrecy. He wants to leave his mark. He can leave his mark, his legacy.
Charity and Justice in equal measure – but justice with retribution hand-in-hand, retribution that is calculated, ruthless, and in terms of delivery, clinical. His mantra is clinical, “When the law fails to serve, we must serve as the law”. His prospectus is vigilante rule. His objective, to create an efficient, effective, underworld penal system designed to introduce fear and genuine disincentive across all forms of criminal activity.
I wanted to write a book in the style of those books I am drawn towards when on holiday, in an airport, on a plane – escapism, crime based, action oriented – books by best-selling authors like David Baldacci, John Grisham, Michael Connelly. Yet I also wanted to challenge the reader, pose questions on moral codes, and leave the reader pondering within themselves. Is there part of an Ed Harrison within us? Hero or villain? Only the reader can decide.
I recognised the height of the bar being set. Therein lay the challenge.
THE WIN – a sniper: a bombshell: a legacy.