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
isnt it, but media is like that one long round of cannibalism. We
really do eat our own.
The issue of contention is Things you shouldnt
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 cant
1: Read Childrens 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 ds, or subtitles
7: Believe that there is someone better out there
8: Expect to have a great birthday
Theres 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 cant 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 dont own doesnt
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 youd rather live in than what you can
actually afford. Sure you dont 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 childrens 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
Pullmans trilogy is in my opinion the best literary work in the
UK since the 1950s 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 Hardys 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 wont take no for an answer.
Theres others too and its 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 ds 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 birthdays 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 Im 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 dont use Esquire as your guide theyll
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
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
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
Summer Movies -London heat
Returning to Blighty
Forget your troubles - April
Oscars have a message
for War February
Renting in Kits
Escape to the UK
MANY MOVIES- IT'S AN AVALANCHE OF CULTURE
you seeing at the movies?
REALLY IS A FUN CITY
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES
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
SUPERNOVA NINA & ROAD
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island
- Off Fringe
ROUNDHOUSE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY.
Arts in the Community is for real -
WE ARE ALL GURUS NOW - September
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report
Carine Thomas -Brighter Image