Peter Rhodes on living for 24,230 days, a home without draughts and endless haggling in Brussels
SOMETHING called the UK Energy Research Centre has suggested that home owners could be banned from selling draughty houses until they make energy improvements. A house without draughts? I fear I may be trapped in Chateau Rhodes for ever.
MEANWHILE, in Brussels, the negotiations drag on. Mr Davis explains once again that he wishes to resign from the EU Club but would quite like to take the hat stand, fluffy towels and wide-screen telly with him. M. Barnier says Mr Davis's mother was a hamster, and his father smelled of elderberries, and he can go whistle for the towels. And in any case, says M. Barnier, Mr Davis cannot be serious about negotiating because although he has brought a large briefcase with him, it probably contains only his packed lunch of disgusting English sandwiches. Mr Davis good-naturedly joins in the Gallic laughter, knowing that his briefcase actually contains the wide-screen telly. To be continued. . . .
FOR me, this is a significant day. My father was born in 1925 and died in 1992. He lived for 24,230 days. Today is my 24,230th day.
THIS arithmetic of life is deeply unfair. My father was a good man and would have made a great old man as a grandfather and great-grandfather. As I reach and pass his span of life, I realise what a short time he had. Some generations are simply luckier than others. When I was 17 I was offered a safe, comfortable job on a local newspaper. When Dad was 17 he was conscripted into the coal mines as a wartime Bevin Boy. When he signed on as a coal miner his health was graded A1. When he left the pit three years later he was C3. Coal mining during the war did not kill him but it weakened him for the rest of his life. By the time he reached my age he had endured cancer for five years.
DAD was part of that unlucky generation bombarded with advertising about smoking being cool and sophisticated. He was hooked on tobacco for life. Then there was the inevitable stress of raising five sons in the 1960s and the daily confrontations of running his own building firm which eventually went under. My father had a hard life. He made a fortune and lost it, fell ill and died young. By and large, my generation of baby-boomers have had a much easier time. At 24,230 days I have never had that solemn, terrifying moment with the consultant or received the buff envelope from the creditors' solicitors. Life is kind for me and my contemporaries but it was built on the blood, sweat and tears of men and women who never saw so many days.
MY thanks to the various internet calculators which tell us how many days have elapsed between two given dates. I could never have relied on my own maths.
RESEARCHING this item, I came across these words by the novelist Ivy Compton Burnett (1884-1969): "People have no chance to grow up. A lifetime is not long enough." I'm glad it's not just me.