Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on religion, life expectancy and being hopeless at football

PETER RHODES on religion, life expectancy and being hopeless at football

Sarah Vine

The commentator Sarah Vine probably thinks she is speaking sweet reason when she writes of one Muslim activist: “His Islamic faith should be respected, like all faiths.” Hang on. Since when have all faiths deserved respect?

According to the 2021 Census, Britain is one of the least religious nations in the world. Almost 40 per cent of Britons identify as “no religion” and I doubt if many of them expect their agnosticism to be respected by any people of faith. Respect is too much to demand. How about us all settling for tolerance?

Today is my birthday and I can't help noticing how many people of my own age are no longer with us. The obituary columns these days seem full of celebrities who have not even made it to the biblical life span of three score years and ten, poor devils.

It would be useful, in a sensible, non-morbid way, to have some idea how many years one has left, if only to avoid the embarrassment of spending all your money too soon, or hanging on to it for too long. I turned to an online life-expectancy calculator, as used by actuaries to work out how generous (or mean) they can be in calculating your pension. Unsurprisingly, you lose years for being overweight, smoking or having serious health conditions. Surprisingly, the calculations seem to take no account of alcohol.

And so I raise a glass to the actuaries' calculation that I can reasonably expect to live to 88. It strikes me as a rather generous span of time left but then, as you learn with age, it's not police officers that get younger, it's years that get shorter.

The ageing process grinds on. It's only a few months since, in our kickabouts, I could dribble, shoot and score past my grandson, Ruben who was then three. Today, at four, he makes the running and scores the goals. When it comes to building self-confidence and sharpness, the greatest gift a four-year-old boy can have is a grandad who is utterly useless at football.

I also discovered on my birthday that I can no longer jump in the air and kick one heel against the other. But why would I want to?

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