It used to be said that you knew you were getting old when the policemen started looking younger.

There aren't enough policemen or women on the streets to judge these days. So for me it all started with the Spice Girls.

It will be 22 years ago next month. In July 1996 they released their debut single Wannabe , the papers were full of them, and I was disturbed to discover that the oldest of the quintet, Geri Halliwell, was younger than me.

It felt like a turning point at least as significant as a 16th, 18th or 21st birthday. The famous people were getting younger.

Since then I've been constantly looking for other signs of advancing age, and they haven't been hard to find. in fact they're coming thicker and faster than ever.

I haven't yet started smoking a pipe, buying Werther's Originals, disapproving of young people or declaring that the whole country's going to the dogs and it's all the fault of the EU and political correctness. Maybe that's still to come.

But there are plenty of other signals. The politicians are definitely getting younger.

There was a time when I could eat and drink vast quantities without apparently gaining weight. That's a youthful faculty long since gone.

I'm slower on my feet than I used to be, and I suspect I'd injure myself if I ventured onto a dancefloor - unless it was one of those venues where your feet stick to the floor, helping to keep you steady.

Frequently I find I'd rather have an early night than stay up carousing into the early hours.

A scary sign arose when I got my hair cut, the barber held up the mirror to show me the back of my head and it revealed the bald spot nobody had told me about.

If I grow another beard I suspect it'll come out grey. When I grew my first beard my mum commented that I looked like Jesus. Next time will I look like God?

The most recent troubling sign comes with the news that boy band 5ive are appearing at this year's Egremont Crab Fair.

They were big in the late 1990s - in fact they were near contemporaries of the Spice Girls - and split up in 2001. Now they're reforming.

Boy bands don't draw many fans among males or the over-20s so l was never likely to pay them much attention.

But you certainly feel your age when you realise that the groups you were too old for first time around and are now getting back together and being regarded as golden oldies. If they're old now, how old does that make you?

Maybe this is old man grumpiness, and if it is I don't care. I hate the way they call themselves "5ive". What's wrong with "Five"?

I suppose it's supposed to be dynamic or clever or slightly daring. Or maybe one of them is allergic to the letter F.

But to me it just looks like a careless typing error - rather like the short-lived Irish girl group who weren't content to be called Bewitched, and had to be B*Witched.

There's a name for this trend for deliberate mistakes. It's called "sensational spelling", it seems to be all the rage and it's immensely irritating.

It also feels like a sign that a product isn't up to much and needs a misspelt name to catch the eye.

It's not just in the world of music, which has given us Sugababes or Gorillaz. There's the video game Mortal Kombat.

A sweet shop near where I grew up was called the Kandy Korner and a family holiday took us to a southern Irish village with a takeaway called the Brite Lite.

At least they used capital letters. The bosses of citibank neither know how to spell or when to use capitals. Maybe they're the only bank that's anti-capitalist.

Bad spelling - and the use of lower-case letters for names like facebook, intel, bp or 3i group - is a form of dumbing down, a retreat to early primary school levels of literacy.

It's also unattractively attention-seeking. I once knew a girl who insisted on expressing gratitude with the spelling "Thanx".

I would never advocate violence towards women, but I felt she deserved to be slapped around the face with a wet fish.

Blu-ray discs may well offer advantages over DVDs, but I'd be far more open to the idea if they were called Blue-ray.

And you won't ever catch me eating Krispy Kreme Donuts.