Michael Cain (90) has just ruined this email by retiring, so ignore him. But look at how many very old people are all still working: Dame Joan Collins (90) is on tour with a one-woman show, Angela Rippon (79) is high kicking it round the Strictly dancefloor like there’s no tomorrow, and the Rolling Stones (combined age 235) have rolled out a new album, 60 years after their first.
It wasn’t so long ago that we saw old people like the image above.
Well, a particular bunch of school children to be precise, who designed this sign as part of a competition in 1981. The description is amusingly deadpan: "It portrays a silhouette of a man with a flexed posture using a cane and leading a kyphotic woman. The sign implies that osteopenia vertebral collapse and the need for mobility aids are to be expected with physical disability as well as with advancing age."
Bleak yes, but this is all we knew back in 1981. To be old was to be fragile and dependent. Retirement was the start of a sedentary existence.
I remember this sign well because my own grandparents looked exactly like the people on it, and enjoyed said sedentary existence – golf, cream teas, crosswords. But now I think about it, they would have been in their mid 60s then – the same age as Madonna is now.
Madonna, at 65, is currently writhing around the dance floor as part of her 78-date world tour as if the past 40 years never happened. Of course, the Daily Mail is outraged at the "onstage smut and snogging". But I think this is the point: we’ve never had the pleasure of a 65-year-old Madonna before – until recently women of her age were put out to pasture – so how does someone like her approach being 65? It’s all to play for, whether we like it or not...
An adviser I was chatting to recently said something that spoke to the brand newness of all this. He’d been to Marseille to see the Rugby World Cup and was celebrating in the pub with a group of friends. "Our mum and dads didn’t do this when they were 55," he commented. The opportunity to think of themselves as young just didn’t exist before.
These people are tearing up the rule book, in much the same way as they did when they were young. (Meanwhile today’s teenagers are so sensible they’re probably laminating the rule book while sipping a nice cup of cocoa.)
But where does this leave your clients? For many, this terrain is so new that it’s overwhelming. There are so many choices now that people don’t know where to start. No wonder so many clients ask ‘What does everyone else do?’ They need a real guide.
Just because Rippon can do the splits doesn’t mean everyone has to. Watching Antiques Roadshow with a puzzler is also perfectly fine – it's what matters to them that counts.
Shameless plug #1
I’m in The Guardian with a mental health tip for this piece on the best and worst advice for depression.
A boarding school in West Sussex has a new ‘principal headteacher’: an AI chatbot that will support the human head in supporting staff and writing school policies.
A judge in Canada has ruled than the ‘thumbs up’ emoji can represent entry into a formal contract and is just as valid as a signature. He ordered a farmer to pay C$82,000 (£48,000) in damages for an unfulfilled contract between farmer and a grain buyer. 🤯
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