If Grandpas Were Around For LongerAugust 13, 2011 No Comments
An article in the New York Times, recently brought to my attention, stated that the number of American men age 65 and older had increased by 21 percent from 2000 to 2010 – apparently almost double the growth rate for the number of older women over the same time. This might have been due to medical science dealing better with ailments commonly fatal to men, or just because more men are taking better care of themselves. Whatever the reason, if this recent surge in longevity isn’t just a blip, it’ll mean a lot more old men around in future. What will that be like?
I remember a few years ago when I lived in north London, coming back from a party at about 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning to the area I lived in, which had something of an Irish population in it. As I got off the bus and slouched wearily home, I noticed there were a lot of old men on the street – all standing around looking slightly bewildered, as if they’d never been up at that time on a Sunday, and all dressed reasonably smartly, with their hair all clean and fluffy, wearing jackets and jumpers with their shirts tucked in.
I thought for a while that they were all waiting for the pubs to open (and I’m sure many of them would have marched straight in if they had been), but it was far too early. Eventually I decided that they had each been woken, scrubbed and marched to Mass by a conscientious wife, had possibly balked at actually going into the church, and had been instructed to wait outside while their other halves made their devotions.
No doubt my theory’s a load of rubbish, but it was strange nonetheless seeing a whole lot of white-haired old men hanging around when they wouldn’t have been expected. And I have to say that it was nice to see as well – they made the place look more of a community somehow – and I think it would be equally pleasing to see that sort of thing more in the future.
I never knew either of my grandfathers, but it would be broadly speaking a good thing if more children had theirs around for longer – and not just for the old dispensing-of-sweets-and-wisdom role. Ask your Granny about what things were like when she was young and she’ll probably tell you all about how people lived, what they ate, what society was like. But imagine if you could call on the memories of a grandad to know what it was like to see George Best play football, or to stay up all night to watch the first TV showing of the video for Thriller, or even what it was like to be able to smoke in pubs – I’m talking about interesting stuff, the sort of thing a grandson would want to know, but that their dad might not be able to tell them.
And who knows – if medical knowledge continues to grow at this pace, I might get to show my own great-great-grandson 4D holophotos of what it was like to take the first nuclear laser train to Mars. That is, if I could get him to take the heptophonic audio-prongs from his six-way ear-grafts long enough to listen.
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