A Little Nip and
TuckThere is no doubt that there are men around at the moment who dont
want to sleep with women over the age of thirty, never mind over the
age of eighty. So I guess that means that we have about fourteen years
(between sixteen and thirty) when men really want to sleep with us and
another eighty-six on the scrapheap. We may still get to sleep with
them but we know that they really want someone younger, with firmer
flesh and their own teeth.
Okay, so not all men are like that. But it does make a point - and that
is, the society in which we live is one which worships youth. And yet
at the same time we live in a society that wants to live forever - or
at least as long as is humanly (or technologically possible). And yet
why? If youth is best why do we want to prolong those other years?
Of course, when people talk about wishing to live for ever they are
talking about how it would be if they still had the body that they had
in their twenties, the sassiness of their thirties, the earning power
of their forties and, well, theres no point going much further
than that, is there? Combine those three and I think we would all happily
live for ever.
At the moment, though, if we were to keep living until we reached 100,
were going to be doing it with the bodies that we have now. We
may be able to slow the ageing process to some extent, we may be able
to cure some of the ailments of old age but we cant actually reverse
the process yet. So what were talking about now is prolonging
life with a body that we maybe dont want to keep.
Even now people try to look younger all the time (except, of course,
for those who are young who are trying to look older). So what is the
future of old age if we carry on along the course that we are now on,
i.e., trying to look younger while getting older.
the answer is fake. False teeth, wigs and plastic surgery. It is
an undoubted fact that things fall out as we get older - our hair
and teeth - or they fall down - most of our face and the rest of
our body starts heading south. So is our future one of constantly
placing ourselves on the plastic surgeons table and having
just one more nip and tuck?
Things stop working too - our joints, for example. So, now we have to
replace them too. So now youve got new teeth, new hair, a new
face and new joints. Oh, but now your backs gone and your bones
are quite brittle and you keep breaking them. So what good is the perfect
young looking face now if you cant walk?
What if you were too poor to get any of this done in the first place,
as the majority of us probably will be? What if youre too poor
to even leave your house? Do you really want to live those extra few
years just so that you can sit in your tiny, unheated flat eating cat
food? Like most things in life, living to 100 only sounds good if youve
Another problem is that we live in a society which doesnt respect
old age. Its a frightening prospect that when youve been
respected throughout most of your life, youve been in charge of
people in the latter stages of your life and then, suddenly, you hit
a certain age, say that youve retired and no one wants to listen
to you any more. What does that do to your self worth?
Actually for my generation and the ones following me this lack of respect
and power may change because the generation above mine is the post war
baby boomer generation and they are pretty active at looking after their
own self interests. They are politically active and will soon be too
large a number and have too loud a voice to ignore. So maybe things
are looking up.
My generation will probably live at least until our eighties and nineties.
In our sixties we will probably look as previous generations did in
their forties or fifties. Technology and medical advances will make
our ageing process easier. We wont have to replace so much, we
will look younger even because of such simple things as our diet and
we wont suffer so much from diseases of old age. But until we
rid ourselves of the notion of the cult of youth Im not sure that
I want to live so long. Unless I have enough money to at least still
feed and entertain myself (and considering that half, if not more, of
all women who have pensions are on or below the poverty line), have
all my friends still around, be physically fit and not be written off
as someone who doesnt count any more Im not so sure that
I want advanced medical technology on my side.
Live to 100? Ask me again when Ive made my first million.