We’re living longer. Care costs are going up. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia. I’m all up for ending it as the faculties start to fade – sign me up for a bit of Dignitas at the end. The worry is if you do get dementia, that you forget you ever wanted to end it all in the first place.
They’ve actually released a 15-minute DIY questionnaire where you can attempt to work out whether you have got dementia or not. I’d do it every day just to check. If you couldn’t remember the right answers from the day before, that would be a clue in itself. Questions include ‘What is today’s date?” – ok – “Name 12 animals” – yes, fine – then next question “How are a hammer and a corkscrew similar?” – trickier, isn’t it? – it is to test your mental agility – the only answer I came up with was ‘I’ve used both of them to try and open a bottle of wine’. If that’s your answer, maybe dementia is the least of your worries.
You certainly don’t want to be the last of your generation to go. I never want to hear myself saying “It’ll be me next” – unless I’m feeling particularly talkative at the delicatessen counter or the queue at Argos. One of the reasons for the shortage of homes in the UK is because more old people are living on their own – lots of new couples can’t afford a place, lots of old people lonely by themselves. Surely the best idea is to get the couples to move in with the old people – instead of the granny flat – have a couple flat in the granny house. The granny gets company and the couple get a flat – and a granny.
Because, on the face of it, retirement looks great. Old people have all the time in the world. It’s a tragedy then that you sleep less as you get older. When you’re working, you’re trying to make do with not enough sleep. You retire and you think I’m going to sleep for a very long time. And then you can’t get to sleep or you wake up early – and you think “This is nonsense I’ve got sod all to do.” But you can’t sleep so you think “Well, I may as well get up and do something” – so you go out, and do something, and just as it’s about to get exciting, you nod off.
Life is a never-ending compromise between time, money and physical capacity. When you’re young you tend to have time and be fit but you’ve got no money. When you’re middle-aged – you’re a bit less fit, you’ve got some money, but no time. You get old – you tend to have time and money but you’re fucked. Maybe everybody should have a student loan aged 18 – then for at least three years you can be young, have money and do sod all.
Old people worry because they start doing stupid shit – but often they are doing stupid shit not because they are old – but because they are human. At Christmas, I put a large turkey in the oven to start roasting at 6am in the morning. I misread the instructions, confused the start and end-times, and was woken up by the oven alarm going off at 6am to reveal a perfectly cooked roast turkey ready to be eaten. Two weeks ago, I was with a friend in a bar and we were having a few drinks and she couldn’t find her credit card so she went up to the bar and got them to cancel the card for her – only for it to turn out she’d actually put the card behind the bar to pay for the drinks.
Getting old is tough. I love those people who fight the years not by plastic surgery – but by attitude. Those who when you play scrabble desperately want to make the word Viagra and then give you a little wink. Those who have rationalised that it is quite amazing that we have spent any time here on earth at all – that it is actually you who has been inhabiting your body. Your mum on average had around 400 eggs, your dad 10 million sperm – the chance of any one of us being here is 1 in 4 billion. Just think if your dad had had one more drink, or maybe your mum had had one less – you could easily have just been a cuddle
People are always asking “Why are we here on planet earth?” – the idea being that we must be here for a reason and that we should stick around until we come to our natural end because that is what has been intended for us. But, for a lot of us, the reason we are here is a fricking accident. You can imagine two philosophers in a bar – somebody asks “Why are we here?” – and one goes “For the further advancement of the human race” – and the other goes “Well, actually I’m here because my dad was supposed to pull out – but at just the wrong moment, my mum stuck her finger up his arse”