Wednesday 17 January 2018

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Keep on keeping on when the years roll past

Even if you're retired, the world is still full of jobs to do, people to see and hobbies to take up, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

IT didn't take Positive Ageing Week and exhortations from President Mary McAleese to get me brooding about oldies, for I'd been set off by The Young Ones, a recent BBC reality TV programme that set out to rejuvenate a clutch of once-famous septuagenarians and octogenarians.

And then there was the papal visit to Britain, which began with an 89-year-old (Prince Philip), greeting an 83-year-old (Pope Benedict XVI) and later introducing him to his 84-year-old wife (Queen Elizabeth). Margaret Thatcher was present for the pope's speech in Westminster Hall. She is 84 and has Alzheimer's, which is why John Major held her hand throughout the proceedings, but she looked splendid, if rather vacant.

The premise of The Young Ones was that, if forced to think of when they were in their prime, old people could shed the years. Much money had been spent on decorating a house in hideous Seventies-style and participants were required to talk as if they were in 1975. But what really invigorated them was having to look after themselves and being in stimulating company.

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