GO for it Bill - enjoy your fifties ("Fifty nifty ways to defy having been born before 1960", Bill Hearld, June 10). Yes we have to behave or the "young ones" say "mutton dressed as lamb" etc.

We don't all wear those Jacques Vert chiffons, you know - the jeans you're wearing in the street will be worn in the garden and your wife will look at trendy fashions but realise she won't buy them.

You will accept that old personal CD player your grandchild doesn't want and plug in your head phones (the ones the DJs wear), creep into the back garden, get out the deckchair and listen to "popular classics" - not like the young ones six doors away blaring their music from the back bedroom.

When you get on the bus, with your bus pass of course, the baseball-capped youngster in that seat marked for the elderly won't get up for you but you won't argue because they'll just shout back.

Go on, Bill, do what you want to now because it's not us that want to get old it's the young ones who expect us to.

Ride that Harley Davidson now if you want to because as a pensioner you'll not dare to in case you break something and end up wasting time in hospital.

I always wanted to but never dare do it.

Do all the things you want to at 50-something because at 65-plus the mind is still active but the body says no.

I did enjoy reading your thoughts, though.

Audrey Spence,

Bramham Road, York.

...BILL Hearld proved to be a real tonic for me. If 50 is the new 35, I have worked out (with difficulty) that I am not such a dinosaur after all and I'm breathing with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.

A word in praise of garden centres - also mentioned in Bill's column.

It's not only the healthy plants that are colourful. Each garden centre is a unique emporium of excitement, packed to the gunwales with imaginative gifts, Christmas offering special treats.

Garden centres suit all age groups and the staff are helpful. The scones and mince pies have that lighter-than-air touch of the pastry finger-tips, belonging to budding Gordon Ramseys. The bread rolls may have been kneaded by the exquisite knuckles of our very own Julian Cole.

As for the 'Dentuvice' grin, Bill, no way while I've still got my American dentist on guard duty.

Margaret Lawson,

Aldborough House,

The Groves, York.

Updated: 12:28 Saturday, June 14, 2003