Tuesday, 2 February 2010


A graph from the Office for National Statistics on age profiles. Interesting how it resembles a Rorschach blot, don't you think?

DISCLAIMER. This post was due to go live tomorrow, but I've been looking through my archives and realised that I have posted on 2nd February in each year since I started this thing (I only began in June 2007, and could not have done so in that year, even if I'd wanted to) so the anally retentive numerologist in me just had to make the change to today. For that reason, the piece may not be as (ahem) exquisitely crafted, and adherent to Aristotelian Unities as you would normally expect, so please forgive me, but here goes.

As I watch my life ebbing away to the background of Bargain Hunt and re-runs of Top Gear, I realise that all the current noise about ageing, death and all that brouhaha is becoming increasingly relevant to me. A terrifying spectre punctured the fog of my cold-infected brain the other morning as I listened to Today on Radio 4. Somebody was speaking about the population profile of the UK, and came up with an image of certain towns in this country only being populated by pensioners as our inevitable march towards immortality (though it looks set to be an immortality of almost total lameness, propped up by countless interventions and cocktails of drugs. No thank you) continues. I'm no spring chicken, as you are doubtless fully aware, but the thought of living only among the over 60s in such circumstances is not an attractive one, to say the least. I've nothing against the older generation per se, and as with any age group, I do try to speak as I find. There are of course as many curmudgeonly kids as there are sprightly OAPs. But I digress.

What I wanted to elucidate was the feeling of confusion I have over medical science in these marvellous modern times. We are proving ourselves increasingly able to defy nature and prolong life (in whatever condition said life may be) almost indefinitely. Don't misunderstand me, I have no ethical objection to stem cell research or any of that good stuff, and I can too completely understand why any family would wish to try and keep someone alive for as long as possible. I also respect those who (on the flip side, if you will) wish to push the boundaries of legality and question the status quo when it comes to the right to die. Terry Pratchett is - and we would expect no less - making a fine stand on this point, as I'm sure you will have heard. It is a complex issue, no doubt about it, and open to some SERIOUS abuse, which is why I feel that English law (though an ass, let's face it) is perhaps for once best suited to dealing with it - i.e., on a case-by-case basis. If only the media could be kept at a distance, we might see some sense. But that ain't gonna happen.

So (once again trying desperately to return my thoughts to the original argument) I really want to talk about the disparity between what we are capable of when it comes to keeping people alive, thanks to increasingly sophisticated treatments (along with - naturally - much hand-wringing to accompany them) and our inability to safeguard the health of children for the want of the most basic care in countries less fortunate than our own.

I have a problem understanding where we're going with this, and begin to question the point of it. Why do we expend so much money and effort in developing procedures and medicines which can fight almost any disease (even the most fundamental disease of growing old) and injury when we allow millions of kids to die from malaria (I'm sure Ashton Kutcher is well-intentioned and all, but it won't really cut the mustard, will it?) and malnutrition every year? Especially when the treatments are only available to a - in relative terms - select few. In much the same way as Barack is diverting vast sums from the 'folly' of space flight to pay for some much needed basic stuff back home, perhaps we could think about doing something similar with the extraordinary sums pumped into prolonging what is often already a lost cause on the hospital wards? Easily said, I know.


オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Myeral said...

Yet more Oriental porn spam!