AS A cheery sort of person, I like to find the good in everything when I possibly can.

That’s why I’m not going to complain about the council tax going up by five per cent or so.

For one thing, the extra cash will be used on social care for the most vulnerable people in society.

For another, and speaking as a person of a certain age, bills landing on the doormat actually make a refreshing change from the stuff I usually find.

I had what’s known as a landmark birthday a while back. You can probably guess which one by looking at the state of me in the picture at the top of the page. I’d naively assumed that celebrating this birthday would involve nothing more taxing than a few drinks, a hangover and perhaps a sudden and irrational urge to learn to ride a motorbike or grow my few remaining strands of hair into a lamentable pony tail.

If you’ve reached a certain age yourself, you’ll know I was wrong. If you’ve yet to, please humour me while I offer enlightenment.

It turns out that a specialist wing of capitalism is armed with census data. It waits for people to have these special birthdays like a desert vulture sits on a big cactus and waits for lunch to stop moving.

First to land were the funeral insurance companies.

There have been too many letters to quote, but the gist of them all is: “At your age you probably think you’ve got 30 or more good years left.

“Well, you’re wrong. Hear that faint rhythmic scraping sound, like stone on metal? Well, that’s the Reaper sharpening his scythe. He might come tapping gently on your bedroom window at any time - maybe tonight, tomorrow night, next week or next year.

“When he does, do you want those you leave behind to remember you with love and affection, or do you want them to curse your name because you haven’t taken out a policy to cover your funeral?

“Do you want a dignified send-off, or will they have to stuff your mortal remains in a weighted sack and heave it into the nearest canal?”

Then it was the charities. Not local charities run by volunteers but great big huge ones run by people whose annual salaries would make a decent lottery win: “Now you’re on nodding terms with whatever lies beyond the veil, isn’t it time to be making a will? More importantly, isn’t it time to be giving all your money to us? If you like, you don’t even have to wait to die. Why not just send us your bank account number and sort code?” Next came the property brokers and developers of overpriced retirement homes: “Greetings, old people. We note that your house has plenty of extra space now you’ve completely outlived your usefulness and have nothing to look forward to other than utter drooling decrepitude.

“Don’t you think it’s extremely selfish of you to live in such a place when there is so much demand for homes from young couples whose veins aren’t already beginning to fill with the dust of the tomb?

“If you had any decency you’d flog it to us straight away at a knock-down price, so we can sell it on and make a handsome profit.

“After all, it’s not as if you need money any more. What outgoings do you have apart from Werther’s Originals, mothballs and strong air fresheners which don’t quite manage to mask the smell of decay?

“Once we’ve got your house you can move into one of our specially-built little apartments with CCTV monitoring, so your cat won’t have the chance to begin eating you when the inevitable happens.

“Remember, if you manage to respond before dropping off the twig, we’ll send you a free clock to help count whatever time might still remain to you...”

Help the police take care of themselves

CHIEF constables across the country have been calling for a ban on officers with less than two years’ service using Tasers to be lifted.

The idea is that allowing all officers to carry the devices - following suitable training and assessment - would help in the battle against rising violent crime.

I don’t know about you, but the thought leaves me a bit worried.

The two-year threshold allows colleagues and senior officers to get to know a new officer.

They can then say: “This officer is one of the majority responsible enough to be entrusted with a potentially deadly weapon intended as a last-ditch alternative to a handgun.”

Alternatively, in a small minority of cases they might say: “This officer is temperamentally unsuited for any weapon more deadly than a balloon on a stick.

“Give this person a Taser and they’d probably end up using it on somebody riding their bike without lights, and land us in one of those American-style scandals.”

Of course, retaining the two-year threshold does nothing to reduce the risk endured by new officers who must face all kinds of frightening, violent people while armed with nothing more fearsome than a telescopic stick.

Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I suspect that violence against the police - and all emergency services for that matter - would decline steeply if anybody doing it knew they’d end up going away for at least five years.

I don’t know how we can bring such a situation about, though.

One idea I had was to wire judges’ seats in court rooms to deliver an uncomfortable but safe charge. A crime victim sitting nearby might be entrusted with the relevant button.

“I sentence you to community ser-” ZAP “...five years.”