Peter Rhodes on subsidies, birthrates and changing faces in middle-age

I had to smile at the vehemence of one BBC reporter trying to establish whether Britain's hard-pressed carbon-dioxide plants might be offered state support to keep the gas flowing. She almost spat out the hated word “subsidy.” Which is rich, given that each and every year, without having to supply any quality audit or proof of value, the BBC gets a subsidy of about £4,000 million from the public purse. Pot, kettle.

Why are we quite so obsessed with money?
Why are we quite so obsessed with money?

Why are we quite so obsessed with money, to the exclusion of all else? According to a think thank, the Social Market Foundation, the UK birthrate is almost half what it was at its postwar peak in the 1960s, and the country’s ageing population “could lead to economic decline.” But that's only half the story.

What the bean counters tend to overlook is the fact, across the globe, that the older a nation's population, the more likely that nation is to be peaceful. The most hellish trouble spots are the ones where half the population is under 30. As the number of pensioners increases, nations come to cherish peace. As one research unit reported: “Simply put, ageing is good for peace. States with the oldest populations are the most pacific.” I bet most of us would prefer to put up with economic stagnation and be a little poorer rather than having cruise missiles screaming overhead.

I was surprised to read that one of the leaders of Insulate Britain lives in a housing association property with single glazing and no cavity wall insulation. In other words, he'd be a direct beneficiary of the free insulation that he and his chums are demanding. Inspired by his heroic example, I am hereby launching the protest group Paint my Shed. Unless I get a definite promise of a proper paint job, including primer and undercoat, my mates and I will block the M6. You have been warned.

If you met the late, great Jimmy Greaves at 30 and again at 60 you might not have recognised him. He was one of those blokes who, by the natural ageing process and adding or losing a few stones, get a new face in middle age. Another example is the actor Sean Rigby, best known as Sgt Strange in Endeavour (ITV) whose fuller face in earlier series has turned into something leaner, harder and altogether more James Bondish. No wonder Miss Thursday is interested...

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