• gailphilip4

“Last of the Summer Wine” – not everyone’s cup of tea

Jeremy Paxman is not my favourite character, but he can be quite amusing with his dry sense of humour. For the last year he has been a columnist (a very opinionated sort of columnist, a bit like the other Jeremy – Jeremy Clarkson) for Saga Magazine.

As befits the older readership of this magazine, he likes to reflect on the process of ageing. He thinks that because he is about to turn 70 he sort of knows what he is talking about, or at least has some sort of basis for commenting. He likes to make light of it all, though some things may not seem funny to everybody. Amusingly, he explained last year that there is no need for anyone to place a banana skin on the floor for him to slip on, since now he can fall without anyone having to do anything! He can do it all by himself! Months after he wrote that piece, he did actually fall while walking his dog – and broke 4 ribs. Not so funny then, I guess.

He gives out mixed messages. Paxman has written recently that as society gets 'wealthier and more comfortable', it treats the elderly with contempt, rather than the respect they once received and should receive. He continued: 'The other day I heard someone justify the coronavirus on the grounds it will thin out the ranks of the elderly.’

So that is one perspective.

But he also thinks the oldies are privileged. “Just look at the opportunities available to us... We have grown into our maturity accustomed to clean water, clean clothes, warmth, enough food and good education. We are probably the luckiest generation that ever lived” (May 2019).

The reality, I believe, is that the position of the oldies in society is not clearcut. It depends where you are standing: how healthy you are, how dependent /independent you are, how secure financially you are, how lonely you are, etc. It is probably more helpful NOT to generalise but rather think more about how to treat folk as individuals. That must be the Christian aspiration.

Even Paxman’s suggestion that the oldies should follow the example of Norman, Cyril and Compo and the rest in “Last of the Summer wine” may not work for everyone. Compo’s interest in Norah Batty’s stockings could land him in deep trouble.

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