fifty-and-sixty-something males, it seems, are defying advancing years by
taking care of their personal appearance and attending, not only classical
concerts but also pop and rock events. Still wearing denim, they have,
according to the market analysts, Mintel, the idealism of the 1960s and
are, of course, concerned about ethical consumerism and their
responsibilities to society.
They call themselves
generation SYLO (Staying Younger Longer) and those not dancing the night
away are doubtless partying till even dawn cracks, or engaging in other
age-defying activities such as back-packing in fever-ridden, South
American rain-forests, holidaying on shrinking Gulf Stream ice-floes,
bungee-jumping from hang-gliders or butterfly farming in Chechnya.
who can remember when King Kong epitomised the best of American go-getting
virtues, I say, "Enjoy yourselves; it’s earlier than you think", because,
after SYLO, there is always PUPP (Patched-up Pill-poppers), a growing band
of diehards of both sexes still able to perform the Exhibition Paso Doble
without drip-feeds attached.
While not a PUPP member, I get
invited to their events, and circulation-stimulating affairs they are,
with the tonic wine flowing freely, the noise of charcoal health biscuits
being crunched sounding like infantry marching on gravel, as well as the
witty, informed talk that could include comments on the new,
rucksack-ready, oxygen tents for short-of-breath hill-walkers and cheap
flights to Poland on Air Linctus for the appendectomy of one’s dreams at
St Walpurgis People’s Treatment Centre, Lodz.
AT A recent party, I felt at
home among a selection of amiable pill-takers, medicine-imbibers and those
who had arrived in luxury Zimmers. As I stood there, glass of tonic swamp
water that gives me a clear eye, cold nose and a good coat, in my hand, I
saw a sharp-as-a-vineger-crisp, 70-odd female giving me a "come-on" wink
like a heliograph. "Barbara Bunstrode," she revealed, "Reader in Emetic
Philology: on diuretics and anti-coagulants; left knee and right knuckles
replaced." Very hip, but when I disclosed that I was a "gentleman
journalist, on Syrup of Figs and All-Bran", her wink (a
seductively-nervous tic) continued, but her body language indicated I was
a pill she could not swallow.
Well, you accept the
invitation and you take your choice of subjects that could include
exchanging information on booking a fabulous colonic-irrigation holiday in
Tunisia to cheap-as-chapattis’ rates for cataract cut-outs in Calcutta.
There could be scandalised murmurs over an NHS shock-horror story of some
patient being cured in mistake for someone else but PUPPs are generally
brimful of joie-de-vivre.
At that party, tongues
loosened by a cough linctus and creosote punch, they sounded like
recently-released Trappist monks. I had a stimulating chat on Roman
orthopaedic surgery techniques in Transalpine Gaul, with a double-hernia,
15-pills-a-day octogenarian, planning to fly a microlight across the Congo
Republic and I enjoyed an exchange of views with a 75-summers, nose job,
Caesarian section, bunions removed, Tetracycline-taking lady, on the place
of the purgative in Victorian Scotland.
LIFE-ENHANCING literature for
"oldies" is flooding the market. The following should be considered for
pro-active pensioners’ bookshelves:
The Good Flu Guide, by Jeremy
Trivett (Beta Books) £9.99. While the author blows hot-and-cold over his
subject, this is an entertaining and informative romp on a common
affliction. Pop-up pictures of virus variations and a joke section should
stimulate sufferers’ recovery.
Limbo Dancing for Arthritics,
by Dr Rama Gulag (Crutch & Cartilage Press) £15.50. This attempt to
breathe new life into old bones is ambitious but not for those who cannot
afford two osteo-paths and a fork-lift truck to pick them up after the
Otherwise Engaged, by Jeremy Stanchion (Loophole
Publishing) £17.50, is another James Bond adaptation. Still active in his
80s, 007 rheumatically lurches, fully-equipped with collapsible alloy
crutches, bullet-proof haemorrhoidal rubber ring, night-vision bi-focals
and ephedrine inhaler-cum-automatic-pistol, on the track of an
international cartel flooding the world with fake, dangerous senna pods.
Cities are evacuated, the planet reels and Bond, without batteries in his
hearing aid is confronted, on an Istanbul train, by Ivanovka Nembutal,
Ukrainian triple-heart-bypass spook, holding a sawn-off spatula in a very
steady hand. "Bond gasped as the woman’s bronchitic chest rub made his
senses reel. ‘Is this the end?’ he wondered, reaching for his