Ken Clarke the Nottinghamshire MP returned to the Shadow Cabinet this week. He is a Tory (boo) and sixty eight years of age (hooray). Which set me thinking more than usual concerning getting old. Now I'm one of those people who read the obituaries daily. if you don't see your name there you're ok, at least for the time being. And I've began to realise how many of us old 'uns are about. (The average age of motorhomers is sixty three; I wonder what is the average age of bloggers.)
Few of us retire gracefully. World leaders are a case in point. They seldom let go of the reins, at least not willingly. Old Fidel (82) limps on, courtesy of his brother. Kim Jong il, (68) of North Korea also limps on, possibly by virtue of cardboard cutouts, and dear old Gadaffi will be seventy in three years time. And as for Mugabe (85 next month) he's going to outlast us all, given the chance.
Though bits fall off or shrivel up daily it may be that you are only as old as you feel. The entertainment world is interesting where ageism is concerned. Des O'Connor (77) fathered a child a year or two back yet is a youngster compared to Charlie Chaplin when he had his last child. And look at the number of show business personalities who swap old for new. Rod Stewart (64), and Bruce Forsyth (80) are cases in points whilst Ronnie Woods, a mere sixty one year old, of Rolling Stones fame seemed literally out of his mind in the company of a new young twenty year old female 'friend' when pictured recently. Plus its cost John Cleese (seventy this year) a lot of money to continually 'trade in' but it doesn't seem to stop him. Do old men 'adopt' a younger women for the intellectual stimulus they offer, I wonder. Answers on the back of a stamp, please. (I was in a pub last year. An old, deaf chappie regaled everyone within ear-shot, unintentionally, with a tale as to how his viagra, obtained on prescription from the doctor, only 'half worked'. We were quite aggrieved when he left us with the story incomplete.)
We all get old but are often surprised that our heroes also age. What have James Fox, David Frost, Trevor McDonald, Melvyn Bragg and Clive James in common? They will all be seventy this year.
Some stars fade from constant view and we seldom notice even after years of exposure. Bernard Cribbens (80), (Richard Briers (75), George Cole (83) Lionel Jeffries (82), Jimmy Savile (82), Molly Sugden (86) and Alan Whicker (83) are cases in point. Others seem to have been there from time immemorial and seemingly go on for ever. Examples include Ken Dodd (81), Jean Alexander (82), Liz Smith (83), Peter Sallis (88 next month, now noticeably non too mobile in Last of the Summer Wine), William Roach (76), Annette Crosby (75 next month), Rolf Harris (78), Dennis Norden (87 next month) and Barry Humphries (75 next month)
Some people are old and look it. Joan Rivers (75) might be funny but I don't think I'd like to see her first thing in the morning. But some carry their age well. My wife thinks Sean Connery (78) is marvellous but she's never seen him without his hairpiece. (Ok, ok, so I'm jealous.) Leslie Philips (84) is still a sex symbol to some, for goodness sake. And who would have thought Michael Caine anywhere near seventy five. Come to think of it Sophie Loren (74) and Joan Collins (75) always look well, though I suspect you would have to see them as they got out of bed (please!).
We are reluctant to leave our youth. Thus Bamber Gascoine (74) is, in our eyes, forever comparing University Challenge. We still view Wendy Craig (74) and Susan Hampshire (71) as if in the bloom of youth and Cliff and the Shadows are forever young. (Elvis would be seventy three had he lived, perish the thought.)
Incidentally Vince Cable is the same age as Cliff (68). I personally think Mr Cable is far superior to the young inexperienced twerp who replaced him as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Whose name incidentally I can seldom remember.
I also think Alan Bennett (74) is wonderful, David Bellamy (75) fascinating, Terry Wogan (70) funny and Michael Parkinson (73) is no doubt talented.
This blog initially was not intended as praise for wrinklies, far from it. But the more I think about it the more I think they still have much to offer. The young should respect their elders for there is much they can learn. I listen to the elderly and I respect them. But remember, the trick is not to knock about with them too much, for occasionally they do go on a bit!