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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Blair's fear of five-o
Leo and Tony Blair
The prime minister dreads becoming an elderly father
Tony Blair is dreading the start of next month - and not just because of the local government elections.

He turns 50 on 6 May and is already losing sleep over the prospect of becoming an elderly father.

"That's what worries me," he tells Saga magazine in an interview published on Wednesday.

"I've been dreading 50."

Mr Blair says he does not feel anything like that old.

There are events we go to where all the other parents are 18 years younger, and you think: 'Hmm, some mistake, surely'
Prime Minister Tony Blair

And he says his children, particularly three-year-old Leo, help him stay feeling youthful.

"Our eldest kids are always telling us we're better with Leo than we were with them - but there are events we go to where all the other parents are 18 years younger, and you think: 'Hmm, some mistake, surely'," he says.

And the harsh reality of his impending senior status was abruptly brought home to him when he received an invitation to join a tennis club near his country retreat Chequers - in the veterans' section.

But it is not all bad news - his advancing years have "hardened and toughened" the prime minister and taught him to value good judgment over intellectual ability.

What's next?

"When I was young, I paid more regard to intellect than judgment. As I've got older, I pay more regard to judgment than intellect," he says.

He says the fact that he does not fit "a traditional Left/Right category" makes it hard for many people to understand him.

There are parodies of you that simply become the conventional wisdom
Prime Minister Tony Blair

"They have a preconception that this means you've got no principles."

But Mr Blair argues his lack of ideology simply makes him a man of his time because people now take a more pragmatic approach to implementing their values.

And as to whether there is life after Downing Street, he already has plans for those long winter evenings.

They include learning Spanish and scientific study.

In the meantime Mr Blair's stress-busting exercise regime ensures he feels "great, physically".

And he says that he has no difficulty in switching off from the job - his family, tennis and playing his guitar are his past-times.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Your 50s should be a fabulous golden age
Wendy, UK

At university the prime minister was always more pop band than political activist or debater - he was in a group called the Ugly Rumours.

So why did he never get involved in the Oxford Union which can boast so many future leaders in its history?

In the past he has said it was because he found the debaters there a "poor pastiche - young people aping great men", although he says he would now be "more gracious about them" because at least they were taking an interest.

Despite the frustrations and stresses of high office, he still regards being prime minister as a privilege.

Parody?

And he is resigned to the fact that "there are parodies of you that simply become the conventional wisdom".

"Some people reading this will hate me, and others will support me, and that's just life: the praise and the criticism can be equally unjustified," he says.

"In the end, you come to a more mature understanding of the fact that you should try to do what you think is right."

So how will the tireless political leader and devoted family man celebrate his half-century?

He says he has no plans but adds: "I expect Cherie will think of something."




SEE ALSO:
Blair opens up about family life
11 Sep 02  |  UK News
Leo meets world leaders
08 Sep 00  |  UK News


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