How To Stay Legally Young:

At what age, in your opinion, should someone be classified as “old”: 40, 50, 60, less or more? Your answer – as the University of Kent’s psychology specialist, Professor Dominic Abrams, has pointed out to the Daily Telegraph – will probably depend on your own age. Renee Fisher, a contributor to the Huffington Post, agrees. For a 5-year-old child, she observes, old age begins at 13, for a 13-year old teenager, it’s 30, for 30-year-olds it’s 50, for 50 year-olds it’s 75 and anyone of 75 or above will tell the questioner it’s none of their business and please go away.

The British actress, Joan Collins, and the Spanish film-maker, Luis Brunel, have both been quoted as declaring that age is totally irrelevant unless you are a bottle of wine or a piece of cheese. Ms Collins, now 85 and currently married to the 65-year-old American film producer, Percy Gibson (her 5th husband), has queried why people are anyway so obsessed with age: “I mean, 90 is the new 70, 70 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 40, so what is this whole ‘act-your-age’ thing?”

The Dutch TV personality, Emile Ratelband – unlike Joan Collins – is not at all happy with his age. At the moment, he’s 69, but wants to be younger. As quoted by the Washington Post commentator, Isaac Stanley-Becker, he considers himself to be physically fit, has low blood pressure, his joints are working well, his eyesight is clear and his mental health is in top shape. All this considered, he feels he’s in his 40’s, not his 60’s – so he’s asked a court in his home town of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, for permission to change his birth certificate details from March 11th 1949 to March 11th 1969”.

The court’s verdict will be issued in a few weeks’ time, but whatever it is, as the Sunday Times’ columnist, Rod Liddle noted in the newspaper on 11th November, “It will be interesting: If a transgender person can insist that their gender, as specified on their birth certificate, is false, then why should someone else not be able to challenge their ‘given’ age. We are what we believe ourselves to be”.

Ratelband applied to the court because the officials in the Arnhem town hall had rejected his request as “crazy”. It apparently wasn’t the first occasion he’d clashed with them: Several years ago they refused to allow him to name his twins Rolls and Royce, after the car manufacturer. This time, he’s more determined, because, as BBC News has reported, he feels discriminated against because of his age, it’s affecting his employment chances and his success rate on the dating app, Tinder: “When I’m 69, I’m limited. If I’m 49, I can ask for a mortgage, get a new house, drive a different car, take up more work. When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I’ve got, I will be in a luxurious position”. He’s also emphasized that the Dutch Government could benefit financially if his age demand is accepted, as he’ll be happy to forfeit his monthly pension of around 1,200 euros.

Helen Mead, a journalist with the Bradford publication Telegraph & Argus, would also like to change her age – but in the opposite direction, to add a decade. Her official retirement age is November 30, 2027, when she’ll be 66 and three months. If she becomes officially ten years older, she’ll be immediately eligible for a pension and be “free to do what she wants when she wants”.

Perhaps the main problem for Ratelband is that, even if the court grants his application, he still won’t really achieve his wish to be considered “young” again. It may take him less time to scroll down for his year of birth when booking a flight with Ryanair or Easyjet – but within a year, he’ll be officially 50 years old, which will place him in or close to the “middle-aged” category. Indeed, a survey cited by Richard Alleyne, the Daily Telegraph’s Science editor, has asserted that”the average Briton believes that youth ends at 35 and old age begins at 58. The 23 years in between are your middle age”.

A different study, however, commissioned by the healthcare provider Beneden Health and highlighted by the Daily Mail correspondent Louise Eccles, has suggested that the traditional notions of middle age have started to change, that the lines between what constitutes “young” and “old” have become blurred and “what age you are has become less important in determining how young you feel”.

More than half the people questioned, nevertheless, did acknowledge that the “ tell-tale signs of impending middle age” are: Being frustrated with modern technology, forgetting people’s names, thinking that teachers, doctors and policemen look very young, listening to Radio Two instead of Radio One, falling asleep after one glass of wine, misplacing your spectacles, car keys or bag, not knowing which songs or music bands are in the Top Ten charts and re-reading old novels because you’ve forgotten how they end.


Filed under: Society | Posted on November 26th, 2018 by Colin D Gordon

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