MR. FRY: POSTER BOY FOR MIDDLE AGE
Middle age… When does it happen? Is it a number or a state of mind?
A British survey of people over 50 has found that as the population ages, the perception of what’s “middle-aged” is also creeping ever upwards.
Previous studies have pinpointed the start of middle age as early as 36. However seven out of ten early 50-somethings quizzed for the survey thought middle age began at around 55.
On reading the news on the BBC website last night, Stephen Fry Tweeted to his 4,804,063 followerS: “It’s official. Three weeks ago I became middle-aged.”
Stephen Fry. Pin up boy for the middle-aged.
And isn’t Stephen Fry the best advertisement for middle age you could imagine? Quick-witted, wise, droll, fiercely intellectual and drop-dead wonderful.
No wonder so many people hang on his every word.
However, Mr Fry may still be a youngster, because at least one in five in the survey thought that midde age began at 60 (!) and one was not elderly until hitting around 70.
Surely the Brits are delusional. They seem to be ignoring the aches and pains of the ageing body because a goodly number of those surveyed said that age was just “a state of mind”.
(Interestingly, most Europeans are not so optimistic. On average they believe middle age begins at 40 – although the Swedes think one is middle-aged at 34 and the Greeks say it’s 52).
Many will recall their parents believed themselves ancient at 50.
But now look us!
In our 40s we’re spring chickens; the 50-somethings are in their prime; the fabulous 60s are going strong and planning to live for at least another two decades.
Australians are among the most long-lived people in the world. By 2051 demographers expect we will be home to some 38,000 centenarians.
So today we ask: What defines “middle age”?
If youth has been traditionally about potential and old age about limitation…what lies in between?
Is youth something to hold on to? Is old age to be resisted?
And what are the joys that come with embracing the glorious “middle age”?