eat, drink, exercise and be merry

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We live in such an inquisitive society today that when someone pegs it we invariably want to know why and how, and did they bring it on themselves or could they have dodged the bullet? I’m now at ‘that’ age where I’m slightly more aware of my mortality than I used to be, and, like most of my peers, do obsess a little about my health and likely longevity. However, I drink too much and, if you’re one of the few who consider midnight doner kebabs to be bad, then I certainly have a highly questionable diet. On the plus-side, I’ve never smoked, strenuous exercise has always been part and parcel of my daily routine but, when push comes to shove, I fully accept that longevity is beyond my control. Yes, I’d love to stay relatively healthy and remain in possession of my faculties but when your time’s up, your time’s up.

And yet we are encouraged by every health guru, mindfulness advocate and fitness sage to believe that by making enough of an effort and committing to life of abstinence, self-denial, energetic activity and sacrifice we are able to defy nature and live a long and fruitful life. The talk is now of ‘active ageing’, ‘productive ageing’ and even ‘reverse ageing’ but those who pounded the pavement, counted the calories, never inhaled and enjoyed a tipple or two, still kicked-the-bucket. Jim Fixx, author of the bestselling The Complete Book of Running was found dead by the side of a road, aged just 52; life-long raw-food fascist, Steve Jobs, died of pancreatic cancer whilst in his mid-50s; self-confessed exercise-nut and gym owner, Lucille Roberts, pegged it in her late 50s; social activist, Jerry Rubin, succumbed to a heart-attack aged 56. Admittedly, John Candy, Lemmy, The Crafty Cockney and John Belushi were never going to see old bones but how come Keith Richards still stalks the hallowed halls of rock infamy?

As recently departed Philip Roth once observed “Old age isn’t a battle, it’s a massacre.” So, I’ll continue to exercise, not because of any supposed health benefit, but because I love it, it’s a social activity and helps keep the weight off. I’ll also continue to spread real butter on my toast, knock-back a cold-one or two, and enjoy the crispy skin of my chicken dinner, not because I have a suicidal death-wish, but because I love the taste and it’s part and parcel of my life. Whether we slake our thirst with coconut water or coke, run every day or remain rooted to the sofa, dine on polenta or pepperoni pizza, we will all depart the world at some point in time. It’s the irrefutable, irreversible human condition.