As part of our new Body Issue we asked gay men aged 18 to 80 to strip off to show that when it comes to feeling good about your body, age is just a number.
I left school in 1945 and started working in a furniture shop in Bolton when I was 14. I worked continuously until last year — so for 72 years!
When I was young, I had no problem with body image because people found me irresistibly attractive. I never did much to keep fit, although when I first started working as a teacher in 1958 I used to cycle to work. It was 15 miles there and 15 back, so I cycled 150 miles a week.
This business of gym-based exercise is a recent phenomenon. In those days, everybody walked to work and you didn’t have to exercise. Since the age of the motor car, things have changed.
I’ve always been very confident, even arrogant, about my own body. Maybe because I’ve grown up with people adoring and desiring me which gives you a certain confidence.
I also have this confidence of knowing who I am and what I want. I don’t want to climb every mountain and run marathons or swim the English Channel. All I want to do is to take advantage of the artistic and cultural scene of central London, where I live.
Gay culture in the UK is obsessed with youthful bodies. But youth and beauty without charm and sophistication are dreary and draining. It’s what’s between your ears that’s of paramount importance, rather than what’s between your legs. That’s what I find attractive. There’s nothing better than a beautiful mind.
I’m as happy as I could be about being 86. I can do what I want to do and I’m not in any pain. I don’t have any knee or hip problems.
I’m fit and healthy. What more could I want?