A MILLION older people are to be targeted to return to work under government plans to tackle the demographic time bomb of an ageing population, it says here in the newspaper article in front of me.

Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson (I met him once and he seems a nice chap) thinks it is time to recognise that 60-somethings are not in their dotage and are still capable of doing high-powered jobs.

No doubt this is true, but one week into retirement it strikes me that many of my contemporaries, if asked, would invite the inquirer to re-arrange the following words: "Jump Take Running A Go".

They might well be flattered, but common sense suggests that a quiet life is to be preferred to the constant aggravation inherent in any "high-powered job".

In any case, as I read on the next page, a Professor at the University of California thinks we are due for mass extinction soon.

Research suggests that every 62 million years or so creatures are wiped from the surface of the planet in massive numbers - and we are about due.

If this is so, it should encourage older folk to make the best of it before they go the way of the dinosaurs.

In my case I am now the proud holder of a bus pass and it would be extremely unfair if the human race were to be obliterated before I could get to exciting places like Wigan, Stockport and Oldham.

"Public transport can make Greater Manchester a better place to live, work and visit," it says on the front of one of the leaflets which come with the council tax demand.

One item caught my eye particularly - the promise that this year a third Metroshuttle service will be introduced in Manchester city centre and that there will be an investigation into the potential for similar services elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

I think many of the people who live in the Bromley Cross and Harwood areas of Bolton - fed-up with overcrowded commuter trains - might appreciate a shuttle service through Ainsworth to the Metrolink tram stations in either Bury or Radcliffe. How about that for an idea?

Changing the subject, I was sad to see that Humphrey Spender, the photographer who put "Worktown" Bolton on the map with his Mass Observation pictures in the 1930s, has died at the great age of 94.

His marvellous images will continue to delight people for generations to come.

Finally, it will be interesting to see what celebrations are planned this year for the 150th anniversary of the opening of Bolton's famous Market Hall.

In normal circumstances you would expect Bolton Council to embrace an obvious marketing opportunity of this nature.

But, as you all know, planning councillors have decided - in the face of public opinion - to go ahead with a £30 million redevelopment scheme which will change the nature of this wonderful local institution.

Will anybody - including disillusioned traders - be interested in an anniversary which really should be marked?