Monday, 9 February 2015

Living to 150!

Not long ago our Treasurer Joe Hockey raised the prospect that Australia needed to start planning for an ageing population to live to 150! I hasten to add that he was talking of a child born today and not those who are creeping rapidly closer to the magical 100 aiming to receive a telegram (or is it a letter now) from the Queen!

It horrified me. As much as I want to live to a ripe old age - I just don't want to end up in a rocking chair for the last 50 years of my life. Surgery might help keep us alive but I do think working on the health of much of the world's population might be more beneficial. (I might change my mind on this as I get closer!) It made me think firstly of dear late my father who always said "I've got a 1912 engine. It doesn't matter what you do to it - it's still a 1912 engine."

Still I was reminded of how wonderfully youthful some people can be when I received an email invitation to a dear friend's 90th yesterday. I watched in wonder as my internet-savvy-young-at-heart-sometime-radio-broadcaster-friend played the piano while singing his invitation to me. How could I refuse an invitation like that! And apropo of the following his invitation stated: 'No presents, please. I don't have that much time left to enjoy them'.

Now with deep respect to my birthday friend who I would never put into the ageing category it got me thinking about old age (I'm in the backstraight myself!) and how different we all are with our attitude to life (and ageing!). I recalled the late English writer and flamboyantly gay raconteur Quentin Crisp who wrote the following article published in The Guardian just before he died. This now yellowing (age!) article has been kept in my 'box of treasures' for a long time! He died at - dare I mention it - the age of 90 in 1999! Depressing to we who are ageing fast I thought you might enjoy it!
Quentin Crisp (wikipedia)
I'm 90 years old. The advantage of being 90 is that you can look forward to death. The world is getting noisier, sexier and more horrible by the minute, but at least I can comfort myself  with the fact that the end is in sight. Or so I thought. Imgine my horror when I opened the newspaper and discovered they were going to make us live till 130.
When you're 60 or 70 the thought of death crosses your mind like a shadow. It disturbs you, it worries you. But by the time you reach my age you are longing for it.

My body is dying on me. I carry it like an old overcoat. It's horrible. You start to smell - the smell of death - and you can't do nothing (sic) about it. 

I can no longer see properly. I need to wear glasses when I go out, but I am too vain, so I walk the streets blind. You go deaf, and people talk to you as if you're a non-comprehending child. 

Your legs give up on you. Nowdays I spend so much time working out how to avoid making the trip downstairs more than once a day. When I do get out, I can barely walk more than a few yards at a snail's pace - according to those who know. I'm lucky; in good shape for my 90 years. 

Writers have often dreamed of immortality. Mr Swift in Gulliver's Travel's told us about Struldbrugs, who devised a way of living long past their sell-by date. 

And what a pathetic sight they were. Then there was Mr Shaw and his tragic Methuselah. If memory serves me right - and, of course, that is one of the first things to go - he lived for a thousand years, and what a curse that proved. 

This isn't a world for old people. Every few minutes there are adverts on the television telling you how to keep young, keep the lines from your face. When you're 90 you have lines all over your body, never mind your face. 

There is no work for old people. What, would we spend 65 years of more in retirement, remembering a time when we were useful?

Everything today is geared towards the young. There's a terrible feeling of exclusion even for moderately old people. Where would we hide when 130? We'd become the Disappeared. And just think of the gadgets we'd need - every house with an elevator. 

Ah, but the world would be so much wiser, say the optimists. I'm afraid that's an illusion. As we get older, we lose our wisdom, our mind, our language. We would have a world in which no one could communicate because we'd forgotten how to. 

No. The absolute nothingness of death is a blessing. Something to look forward to. 

If I discovered a potion to make people live until 130 the first thing I'd do is bury it. 

I fear forgetfulness more than anything!! (the age)

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