Luckily, as the baby boomers have aged, it does seem that we have more ‘glamorous grannies’ – a term, incidentally, which I wish were outlawed, along with all the other ‘old git’ types of humour that abound today (just look at the birthday cards section of any card shop). Luckily, the discrimination that we suffer from still today will slowly subside as our media culture continues to accept actors (Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins, Maggie Smith), entertainers (Bruce Forsyth, Shirley Bassey, Englebert Humperdink), and thinkers (Patrick Moore, Brian Sewell, Melvin Bragg) – all examples who I’ve seen on TV this week – in their seventies and eighties, and some employers at least bother to value experienced older workers (M&S, B&Q, ASDA).
We need to maintain older politicians as well, those with power and influence. Sadly, this is something we have failed to do, as cabinet posts seem to go in the main to the younger pretenders. We lack the deeper rhetoric of the greats.
I never really got on with Blair’s approach, but felt saddened because he saw no point in pursuing his political career as an elder statesman of the government. I just hope that, when the pretenders think about a political career, they realise that a lifetime in politics is more valid than just a term in office.
Clement Atlee was 63 and Winston Churchill, 65 when they each became Prime Minister – close on twenty years older than David Cameron (although Theresa May redresses the balance somewhat). One of our recent prospective national football managers, Harry Redknapp, was born in 1947, Sam Alardyce in 1954 – so age is not a problem, it seems, even when the actual players are under 35, but the valuing of experience in favour of a young dynamism, less prone to draw from the past is. It is appalling that figures such as Menzies Campbell were treated so harshly by the media, when their experience and example (he held the British record for the 100m for seven years in the late60s) are often ignored. Wonder if Sebastian Coe will end up off the field one day (probably not if the Olympics this year go well).
Perhaps we are seeing a sea-change of sorts, compared to years of focussing on the BYTs (FYI: Bright Young Things). Even the film industry is catering for the older adult now, and once culture absorbs things once again, there is more chance of us achieving a balance between the ages. We cannot write off the last twenty years of expected life, imagine if we wrote off the first twenty.