High life

How to have a happy old age

22 August 2020

9:00 AM

22 August 2020

9:00 AM


Birthdays at my age are for the birds, but always a good excuse for a party. Messages of good wishes began early on, with loyal Speccie reader Arnold Taylor ringing from South Africa, and Rosemary and Wafic Saïd texting from the English countryside. (They wished me a happy 39th. I accepted.) My great buddy Michael Mailer, staying with the Kennedys at the family compound in Hyannis Port, had hoped to fly over but the you-know-what prevented it, while Charlie Glass rang from London to announce the end of capitalism as well as yours truly. I asked Charlie to answer me truthfully, because it was my birthday, and he swore he would. ‘Do you have as many children out of wedlock as Boris, or more?’ I said. He hung up on me.

That evening Johnnie and Martine Cotton gifted me a ginkgo tree, one that I suspect will outlive me by rather a long way. Then the boozing started in earnest and I’m still under the weather. There’s not much to say about old age that hasn’t already been said, but there is this: wisdom does not come automatically with advanced years, neither does the urge to seduce women take a hike. To be happy when old, you need luck and good health. The rest is all bull. One tends to weigh up the few triumphs and numerous disasters, the ethical choices one has or has not made. One also appreciates the absurd happiness that comes from small pleasures, such as violent karate training, stolen kisses, family evenings and boozing with friends. Travel is no longer a must, especially when one has been almost everywhere and seen almost everything there is to see.

For some strange reason, America is always on my mind nowadays. I have bittersweet feelings about the place because of my past life there. Magical moments and images come flooding back, some poignant, others funny, all of them happy and nostalgic. Way back then one felt invulnerable — an allegory for a past America sitting on top of the world. Now witch-hunting has replaced baseball as the national pastime, its one pitch being racism, trotted out for all occasions. So what is to be done about the falsehoods that are ruining lives on hearsay alone? Get rid of Twitter, I suppose, or 90 per cent of all journalists, but it’s easier said than done. Oh yes, I almost forgot: Harry and Meghan are also calling for an end to racism or else, which means eternal damnation is just around the corner.

Basically, this shows how ignorant people really are. All over America self-hating products of its schools are encouraged by the media and the politicians to paint the darkest possible picture of the history of the country. Nothing else will satisfy them except the abolition of America.

Looking at pictures of the looting and rioting — 36 of the 50 largest cities in America have seen homicide rise at double-digit rates — I wonder what their excuse will be when America is turned into Venezuela. A piece in New York magazine said, of the two lawyers accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a police car: ‘There is a version of the Rahman and Mattis story in which they are civil-rights heroes, even martyrs, instead of professionals who crossed a line.’ A sick children’s home in Chicago was attacked by a mob, and BLM leader Ariel Atkins has justified widespread looting as ‘reparations’.

The narrative of white patriarchy is repeated ad nauseam by the media, and maintains that even statues of saints represent white supremacist culture. Jozef de Veuster was a Belgian priest born in 1840 who was sanctified for spending his life tending to lepers in Hawaii and dying of the disease. He built schools, roads, an orphanage and a hospital before succumbing to leprosy. A statue was built in Washington DC to Saint Damien of Molokai. Now a Congresswoman by the name of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representing the Bronx and Queens district of New York, has pointed to a statue of St Damien of Molokai as an example of ‘patriarchy and white supremacist culture’. My guess is that this publicity-seeker will soon be asking for the abolition of icons of the 12 Apostles, even of our Lord Jesus himself.

Never mind, in merry old England things are not much better, but there is less violence, to be sure. What I don’t get is how a succession of Tory prime ministers has failed to stop the PC rot at the BBC. What’s the use of winning an election and having to listen to anti-government propaganda all day and all night? Again, never mind. Brits are not crybabies like the Yanks, who claim the virus has caused them ‘existential ghastliness and emotional distress’. Poor old things; they also suffered during the last world war because there was not enough Coca-Cola to go around. From now on we shall have idea-policing and speech modification to help us remain mainstream in our thinking and in the way we act. And warnings for everything, including whistling ‘Springtime For Hitler’. Just make sure people know it’s a spoof from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers.

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