Friday, 2 July 2010

How to be 100.

I generally ignore the front page of newspapers, on the grounds that no matter what they're getting excited about, its unlikely to affect me personally. At one end of the spectrum they're getting into a lather about whether Jordan has decided to have them enhanced, diminished or moved to a different venue altogether, and at the other, more serious, end we are likely to have more detail than I really require on the need for fiscal restraint, which is an impossibly hard notion to get over to my wife, even in the simplest terms ("I said NO!, the bank has got a headache, take them back to the shop"). And after years of the Brown Bear's glare, do we in this neck of rural Lib.Dem/Con.-land really give a stuff about who might lead the Labour Party into their glorious future.
Yesterday was different. As I passed the newsagent I looked on the rack and there, occupying the entire front page of the Independent, displayed for all to see, was a picture of me, naked. I looked again and saw that it was actually 7 pictures of me at different ages, striding in single file across the page, with a baby boy at one end, several assorted handsome hunks in the middle, and on the far right was a bent, wrinkled, grey-haired old geezer. Poor old thing...not taken from my best angle.

The banner headline was "Have you got longevity genes? Scientists discover what makes us live longer", then the usual guff about "new tests", "life expectancy of 100", "ethical implications" etc. This was clearly going to change my life. After a whole page 2 of exciting stuff from a philosopher and a Science Editor, tucked away on page 3 was a more sober assessment of this much-trumpeted research. Professor Tom Kirkwood, an acknowledged expert on ageing, said that he is unconvinced by the claims, as the sample size was too small to justify any confidence, and the statement that the new test could predict longevity, let alone increase it, was open to serious misunderstanding.
Why can't journalists agree to be boring and truthful about science, instead of hypeing it up every time?
The Telegraph's approach suits me better, when they're not droning on about MPs expenses for duck-houses, because they don't seem to be as worried about political correctness as the more liberal papers. Admittedly they do tend to worry excessively about whether Andy Murray should bow to the Queen, but they had quite a good summary of the Englishman's attitude to Murray recently, pointing out that
when he's brutish and brattish he's Scottish but when he wins and he's skittish he's British.
Now we've had the Nadal match its fairly clear that I shan't live to be 100, but with another 5 years of reading about another unsuccessful dour Scot it will probably feel like it.

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