I don’t know whether to be happy that I am over 60 and will die a little sooner than many of you and thus avoid must of the bad times on the way, or whether I should adopt the conventional attitude that death is quite simply awful and we should stave it off as long as possible. My English grandparents both died in their 70s, my German grandfather was taken by liver cancer just as the war ended. He was, I think 56. My German grandmother, on the other hand, made it to the ripe old age of 93 or 94. My mother died three months after her 60th birthday (of a heart attack) and my father was 68 when he popped his clogs (also of cancer, which began as prostate cancer and then spread).
It would seem that, my grandmother notwithstanding, we Powell/Hinrichs are not really a long-lived family. However, until just over seven years ago, I was convinced I would take after my German grandmother and annoy the world until I was well into my 90s. I had no very good reason for thinking as much as I had started smoking at more or less 14 and didn’t really stop until I was 50. There were times when I considered myself to be a non-smoker as I had stopped smoking cigarettes, but I carried on with my habit, acquired at university, of enjoying the wacky backy, and looking back it now seems obvious to me that when I thought I would like a toke or two of at any time during the day, in fact I was simply craving the nicotine hit smokers crave. Nevertheless, it was going to be a ripe old age for me, or so I thought until May 2, 2006, when I was carted off to hospital suffering from a heart attack. After that I slightly re-adjusted my plans.
Since then I have always told myself that I want to live long enough to see my children well-established and happily independent of their dad. That might be, say, when they are just short of 30. So that would give me another 18 years (Wesley turned 12 last May) and take me through to 80. But that seems rather unlikely given my grandparents’ fate, so maybe that would be 75 or 76. Who knows.
To make matters worse, some trigger-happy folk in Tehran decided to revive the old Iranian tradition of looting the British embassy. That is not a good sign. The British bulldog is not one to sit idly by while its dignity is injured and is apt to retaliate. The trouble is: with what will the British bulldog retaliate? At the last count its armoury consisted of two broken peashooters and a converted trawler. With exquisitely good timing, the Government has good rid of all our aircraft carriers, is sacking almost all of our Armed Forces and is in no state whatsoever to pick a fight with anyone. I think we’ll all know the game is finally up when it urges us all to knit for victory.
So that is why I’ve been wondering just how long I’ve got left. Not that I’ve ever been very convinced but the imperative to stay alive at all costs until the bitter end, because a bitter end it usually is. And on that cheery note I wish you all the best and enjoy the rest of your day.