Sunday, 9 December 2012


Not just because I’m getting on a bit (but as I sit with my peers I still feel absurdly young) but much more because a few things have happened recently that have persuaded me we’ve lost touch with the new realities of our social demographics. You see it’s a fact that 35% of the children born now in the UK will live to be over 100.

What the hell are they going do in the last 40 years of their lives? Or put another way what proper use will the State make of their talents because we have a tendency to regard people over 65 (or younger even) as having passed their sell-by date.

And then Mick Jagger and friends strutted their stuff at the O2 Stadium. Extraordinary.

Mick, let’s face it, is going to be 70 next year and although his face has a leathery, lived-in look to it his movements were the fluent ones of someone 20 years or more younger. I looked at Stone’s performances of “Let’s spend the night together” on You Tube from 1965 to current times and they’ve got better even if the probable invitation seems likely to be more mundane now… .”Let’s spend the night together, now I need my sleep more than ever.”

Bob Charles the left handed New Zealand golfer had a glittering career and was British Open Champion in 1963. This year he was 76 and did something really amazing. He shot a 66 in a Seniors’ event – no one has ever beaten their age by 10 shots before.

Moira Bennett is over 80, lives in Brighton and has just written “Making Musicians” - the History of the Britten-Pears Music School at Snape in Norfolk.
Her career in musical management and development includes spells at the Barbican and with the LSO. She has the mahogany feel of someone with insight and perspective. A while back she took up smoking saying “it won’t kill me now”.  Wisdom too, plus style.

Talent ripens, it doesn’t wither. What changes is a belief that our stamina declines. Not true in Kenya where their elite runners seem to get better as they get older.

Tom Wolfe is 81 and still writing like a Rolex.

Lord Leveson is 63 and isn’t. (You can’t win them all.)

The best model is in Japan where they leverage the wisdom of age and the energy of youth in the “sempai” – mentor, “kohai” – pupil relationship. As you get older you’ll find a seniority- based social structure increasingly appealing.

Someone (no one knows who) said “don’t regret growing older; it’s a privilege denied to many”.
No regrets. You get to help the next generations avoid the mistakes you laughingly made.

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