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Youngsters are clueless about life for oldsters

Date

Heckler

HECKLER

<i>Illustration: Simon Letch</i>

Illustration: Simon Letch

AT 64 I have read that a group of 40-year-olds working for a think tank recommend raising the knackery level to 70. Oh, the aches and pains now. These 40-ish brats are assuming they know what it's like to be 60. But ''been there done that'' can't be done at 40.

At 64 I'd like to travel, perhaps ''rent a little cottage in the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear''. Economic rationalism has the power to destroy some great Lennon/McCartney lyrics. ''Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 70'' doesn't work.

In my teens, I saw 40-somethings as wisdom's fount - ''Now, listen here, son'', etc - the sort of person who would talk me down. Now, at 64, this age group is talking me up. All this emphasis on employment growth. We seniors stopped growing years ago - the leaves are falling, life is compost.

Has this think tank noticed the size and health of our ageing baby boomers? Boy, have they morphed since they were kids in the 1950s, an era when waistline meant skinny and fast food was anything eaten in a moving car.

The immediate seniors have embraced the cuisine of American food technology. They are walking prescriptions, the price paid for adaptability. They think a walk is something between the front door and the car, while public transport is a brisk ambulance service. I'll try not to be bleak, but I must hint at mortality. They are on a short call booking for a ride in a big black station wagon, a family and friends barbecue with no menu. Work! Who's kidding?

Me, I've resisted the inevitable all the way, hoping 40 years of yoga would leave me immortal. What a waste of time. Sure, I can wrap myself into knots; it's getting undone that's the problem.

What sort of employee would I make? Anything involving hips and knees is out - that's the lower parts gone. A job with a phone perhaps? I'm lucky to hear a ring, let alone the boss on the other end saying he's been calling for an hour. Industrial deafness would prevent me hearing his response to ''I'm tired and need a nap''.

This vision statement from a think tank of the young and upwardly mobile has it all wrong. Our 60s are the time for wisdom. Bouncing my granddaughter on my knee I'll tell her it pains me. Deja vu, my grandmother told me. As the child chuckles I'll tell her of past fallacies. Of how in my teens I heard the line about not trusting anyone over 30.

Today I don't trust people under 50, the age of the pain barrier, deciding on the fate of the over 60s.

Warren Tindall

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