And what of that University of London report? Are we happier in our seventies and eighties than we’ve ever been? It certainly chimes with something I have observed. I have extended believed that my generation that grew up during the Second Planet War, when existence was quite, very hard, learnt values of tough function and application that left us much more stoical than those who have come since.
All the rigours we went by way of have put a little stiffness into our spines. We have been hardened up compared with people who grew up in the Fifties, when, as Macmillan remarked, “You’ve never ever had it so good”. The softer lifestyle does not issue you for longevity.
Dame Angela Lansbury is back on stage in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, aged 88
So it is no accident that my personal wartime generation has created two stalwarts, hitting the headlines this week. Dame Vera Lynn, “the Forces’ sweetheart”, is releasing a new album at 97, and Dame Angela Lansbury, a mere 88, is back on the West End stage as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and winning rave critiques. I initial met Angela when she was 14 and at school with my sister. She was presently quite sophisticated back then, certainly ample to avoid me, as a shy sixteen-12 months-previous from an all-boys school, from engaging her in conversation.
I’m not positive if I could take on a prolonged theatrical run now, though I nevertheless get pleasure from carrying out my own one particular-man comedy show all around the country, and, on occasion, my cultural present devoted to the lifestyle and perform of Edward Lear.
I concern, as well, that my dancing days are more than. I utilised to do a indicate Charleston and nonetheless dream of the call coming in for Strictly Come Dancing, but I’d have to decline with regret. In spite of all the compensations in expanding outdated right now, there is still sadness about reaching these late landmarks. I have often been a keen sports activities player, but I’ve had to give it all up. Initial I gave away my water skis, next I hung up my squash racket, then my cricket bat was pensioned off, and soon it will be my golf clubs.
I even now do a small physical exercise to maintain my entire body lively: the occasional session on a bike in the fitness center, and stretching in the morning. And I’m a fantastic believer that the more you use your brain, the younger you will continue to be. So my newest undertaking is a commission to compose a background of Just a Minute, which I have been chairing now for 47 years.
I know other folks will disagree, but I would argue that older people are now handled with far more respect than previously. That, at least, has been my encounter – just this week I was presented with a Churchill Award for a lifetime’s work in radio and television. The other day, I was struggling a bit to get out of a taxi, when a young girl offered me a hand. Admittedly, it made me feel old, but if you accept it in the spirit in which it is offered, it is wonderful.
Yes, typical listeners to Just a Minute could be forgiven for concluding that we oldies encounter a barrage of abuse about age, but it is all element of the enjoyable of the display. You have to laugh at yourself – in my case, at the running joke that casts me as a dinosaur. The panellists – particularly Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth – are just pulling my leg.
Soon after all, I’ve invested a lot of my operating existence being the straight man. It is portion of the good results of Just A Minute, but, a lot more widely, I find, it aids get rid of tension.
And, if we are going to embrace this golden age for growing previous, stress is the extremely final factor we need.