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Editorial 2003 -
Deathrates in France plus Acting Your Age - Not Likely ...

August 29th Update:
You have probably been as shocked as I to discover that up to eleven thousand people died in France in the recent heatwave there (mostly the old from dehydration) and nearly 1500 died in Portugal. Many of the bodies are unclaimed and there is a certain amount of horror that so many people could die alone and why they didn't get help from the health system there. It wasn't just confined to France and Portugal. In the UK an extra 1000 died beyond the norm, unable to cope with the heat. So I asked myself a simple question. How many people die normally in a month in the UK?
It's surprising. The 2001 figures show that 59,542 people died in England and Wales that year and 65300 were born. On average 5000 a month. (The normal French average is 3300 because they eat somewhat more healthily than we do.) The average is meaningless, as of course our peak deaths normally occur in winter, in Scotland during the last 'flu epidemic it was around 9000 people a month.
Eleven thousand deaths (during the first two weeks of August is not then as shocking as it might at first seem in a headline- though still terrible.) What is curious is that many of these people who died in France didn't seem to know that they needed to drink water to survive in daily temperatures of 103F (which in any language is bloody hot.) London was reeling when it reach 100F for one day.
The UK is only just managing to replace its population. The media mortality age has risen from (males) 72 in 1970 to (males) 78 in 2001. The death rate has hardly fallen at all, which is odd. There is no point to this comment, only that sometimes it is good to check the facts when you hear the news. I am no longer shocked, but nevertheless alarmed. I had never thought about mortality 'norms' before. You spend a lifetime thinking 'it will never happen to me' but it will darn it, it will. Pass the sunblock.

I suppose it is something akin to necrophilia when resorting to writing about an article that appeared in The Times August 13th (by-line Glen Owen) which was responding to an article by Simon Tiffin the editor in the current issue of Esquire. Crap isn’t it, but media is like that one long round of cannibalism. We really do eat our own.
The issue of contention is ‘Things you shouldn’t do after 30’
I am not prepared to go into the whole list but suffice it to say it is a very sad day for anyone over thirty when they can’t
1: Read Children’s Books (except to children)
2: Buy a bottle of wine for less than £7
3: Be unacquainted with the double cuff
4: Fear Direct Debit
5: Believe that someone is going to pick up that demo tape you made
6: Be afraid of children, maitre d’s, or subtitles
7: Believe that there is someone better out there
8: Expect to have a great birthday

There’s more. I am prompted to respond not because I am more guilty than most in refusing to grow up but because strolling across a field in Lymington with a friend from Vancouver last night some kids called out after me ‘Blue and Green should never be seen’.

Huh? Teens actually care about such things? I looked down at my new green Converse sneakers and the matching green socks and then a little further up at my blue shorts and bright blue cotton shirt. Looks fine to me. Who the hell decided blue and green can’t go together? Why would anyone care? Least of all some thirteen year old girl gossiping out of sight of the parents.

Of course not one takes Esquire seriously either. (I used to read the New York editions in the seventies and early eighties when they were great but sadly they are now no better than Loaded or Maxim).
Far from ‘growing up’ and aping your father at thirty (I hope I go to my grave NEVER knowing what a double cuff is) thirty is the new twenty and forty is the new thirty.
Hell who wants to grow up at all? How sad it is that people think you should. I feel sorry for all these kids who think they have missed out by not being on the ‘property ladder’. Well neither am I. I rent. In the end you die and the house you don’t own doesn’t go with you.
In Europe people rent as well and someone else has to pay to keep the roof over your head in good order. If you rent you can afford to live in the neighbourhoods that you’d rather live in than what you can actually afford. Sure you don’t get to talk about how much your house is worth at dinner parties, but you can boast about how much you pay in rent now. ‘£900 for one room!’ Is always good for five minutes and then let them start speculating how much they could get for their coal shed...

So what about this list?
1:Reading children’s books. Well I grant you the new Harry Potter smells of ‘panic’ to quote a friend who toils at Waterstones and the first two hundred pages should have been culled, but I am absolutely thrilled to discover that Philip Pullman is coming out with something new soon and I just hope it maintains the quality of ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy.
Pullman’s trilogy is in my opinion the best literary work in the UK since the 1950’s without exception. You can keep everything by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes, to hell with all that dull British literary stuff. ‘The Corrections?’ Unreadable. I want my imagination stretched and Pullman does it with aplomb.
2: Buying wine for less than seven quid. I am utterly reluctant to pay more than a fiver.
If one is lucky you can fine Hardy’s Stamp Collection Shiraz for around that price and you could pay £20 for a bottle of finest French wine and still not come up with anything as consistent or drinkable.
3: Yes by all means fear direct debit. Anyone who has signed up with the AA will know what ‘Roadside Assistance’ really means. Even when you have sold your car and walk they will year after year help themselves to your dosh and won’t take no for an answer.
There’s others too and it’s hell to get them off your back.
4: Be afraid of kids? Well the local rag here screams a headline ‘Local drunken youths throwing bottles at houses and cars’ We are talking peaceful Petersfield not Acton. (Babies are another matter entirely). As for Maitre d’s it is best to avoid restaurants that have them. As a rule you can eat in ‘Ask’ for around ten percent the price of anything Mr Conran offers and find the staff sweet, pleasant and happy to serve. If you have paid £200 quid for lunch for two the only person who is happy is Terence Conran, certainly not you.
5: Will someone pick up on the demo tape? Well kismet can happen at any time in your life. The trick is to make sure you have something worthwhile to offer. No one will know your age from a tape, a book or image.
6: And as for believing there is someone better out there. Well I am sure there is. You may not meet them but there surely is. My friend and a contributor to Hacks Jenny Brown was only insisting last night that she thinks it is entirely possible. But of course she is a petite blonde where love is always just around the corner. Being an ‘old bloke’ with thinning hair does make it harder but not impossible. But it is important to maintain a decent age gap. Ten if you are thirty - twenty years seems about right if you are forty plus.
7: It is utterly true however that your birthday’s will get better. The trick here is to celebrate your birthday with strangers in a far away places where no one will believe your age, even when you are lying. I find that you can celebrate being forty a number of times before anyone catches on this way and every birthday is fun. Hell I’m even writing a screenplay about the last one in Spain it was so – unsual...

Have no fear you can turn thirty, hang onto your bear (I still have mine - moth eaten he may be) most certainly date someone who has no idea of who Agent Cooper might be and cling onto ‘youth’ as long as you like. Just don’t use Esquire as your guide – they’ll have you in Tweeds and shooting sticks way before your time.
*This is assuming you survive the power cuts. Life without electricity - now there's an issue to talk about.
© Sam North
August 13th 2003

This month in Hacks:
Colin Todhunter –dream traveller, James Skinner on starting his first novel, James Campion on US politics and Gay Bishops, Rev Hernandez on being Jewish,
J T Brown on Judo Championships in Japan and Robotics, Naseem Javed on 'the name economy', Charlie Dickinson reviews, James Skinner on Iraq and Heather Neale on sudden illness ...Michael Sean Morris on becoming a travel writer .. Elayne Keratsis on living in Mexico and much more

Previous Editorials:

August: Summer Movies -London heat
July: London Art Fair
July: Readjusting
June : Saying Goodbye
Returning to Blighty

May: Dystopia
Art and the Matrix
Blossom Time
Forget your troubles
- April
Oscars -March
Oscars have a message

Waiting for War February
Winning the Peace
The Munster House
Renting in Kits

Winter Escape to the UK
Hacks takes a break

What will you seeing at the movies? November
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
It’s SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island - Off Fringe
Arts in the Community is for real -
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report

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