Three Score And Ten

When I was young, Religious Education was compulsory in school. I had a Bible at home, and read it more like a history book, than religious instruction. Parts of it were very dull, but others had action, adventure, even wars. I grew up not believing in any God or religion, but I did remember some of the quotes and catchphrases that I read. Two of them in particular stayed with me.

‘Mene, mene, Tekel Upharsin’.

Do you know what that is? It is the actual ‘Writing on the wall’ that gave us the phrase so often used today.

Then there was this one.

‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.’

So I was around eight years old, and could work out that they were talking about living until the age of seventy. Eighty at a push, if you had that ‘strength’ mentioned.

I spent the next twenty years expecting to die at seventy. Then I became an EMT in the London Ambulance Service. It wasn’t long before I realised that so many people die long before they are seventy. Especially people like me at the time who smoked cigarettes, worked shifts in stressful jobs, didn’t eat properly, and liked a drink on their days off.

Very soon, I started to think that fifty might be a good age for me to live to. When you do that job, you do become something of a fatalist.

Surprise surprise! I made it to 2022, and I am 70 years old today.

Maybe the Bible got it right?

Think Twice About Cutting Down Trees

I found this photo online. It made me even more convinced that we need to think twice about cutting down trees that were not deliberately cultivated for timber.

This tree was felled in America, in 1891.

It started growing in 550 AD.

Before Mohammed was born.
Before The Battle of Hastings
Before America was discovered.
Before the Declaration of Independence.
Before The Battle of Waterloo.
Before the US Civil War.

Compared to that tree, we humans live our entire lives in the blink of an eye.

Life Expectancy

When I was young, the assumed life expectancy was supposed to be 70 years old. (For men) As it said in the Bible, (somewhere) ‘Three Score Years, and Ten’.

I soon began to make decisons and lifestyle choices that were destined to reduce that number significantly, in my case. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 16, and by the time I was 18, I was considered to be a heavy smoker. That carried on until I was 60 years old, 42 years of around two packs a day, every day.

And I also liked a drink. Beers at the pub, wine at home, and the more-than-occasional gin and tonic, or a nice cognac.

At the age of 27, I started working shifts, in an exceptionally stressful job. I did that for another 33 years, until just shy of my 60th birthday. In between, I moved house more times than I care recall now, and got married and divorced. Twice.

Then I got married again.

I didn’t watch what I ate too closely, and often worked 60-72 hours a week. I tried most recreational drugs known to mankind at one time or another, and adopted the ‘James Dean’ philosphy of ‘Live Fast, Die Young’. I expected to burn out. Not only expected it, there was a time when I actively sought that untimely end.

During my time as an EMT, I became closely acquainted with death, in more ways than I ever thought possible. I came to the conclusion that if I lived past the age of 55, it would be little short of a miracle. So when I celebrated that 55th birthday, I had to take stock. Perhaps I would live longer despite everything?

It dawned on me that it was possible to live to that Biblical age of three score plus ten, even for me.

Then I got to 60. I stopped smoking cigarettes, and retired to the countryside. I began exercising regularly with my dog Ollie, and relaxed at long last. But after many years of taking Statins for high cholesterol, I got bad news from my new doctor. Muscle wastage, and mild liver damage. All caused by reacting badly to Statins. I had almost no strength left in my upper body, and the muscles in my arms and chest were shot for life. I came off those tablets, and had to live with my record-breaking high cholesterol levels.

I thought that I had finally reached my high water mark, and the cholesterol would kill me within a year. But no.

So here I am at the amazingly (for me) old age of 68. I find myself in the middle of a lethal pandemic that is daily taking the lives of tens of thousands around the world.

But other than being ‘very sleepy’, I have no symptoms.

Maybe I am immortal after all.

Ollie At The Vet (Again)

Ollie had to go to the Vet again today. That’s why I am late posting my serial episode, (for those of you that noticed) and just running late in general. Any break in my fixed routine makes me feel that I lose the rest of the day trying to catch up.

Anyway, Ollie had to have his annual booster injection, and general health check. In addition, I was worried about a sore eye that was troubling him, and the fact that he just cannot seem to stop shedding hair out of season.

Excited to get in the car, he was less impressed after the 12-mile drive deposited him at the hated Vet. Not that he balks at going in, but once inside he shows obvious signs of distress about what may be about to happen. Luckily, there were lots of other dogs there already, so his attention was distracted. Two Golden Retrievers, a young Rottweiler, a barky Labrador, and a nervous Poodle all gave Ollie the eye as he came in, and there was a great deal of mutual sniffing. Only the trembling Poodle made sure to avoid my dog.

He weighed in at thirty kilograms. This is a one kilo increase on last year, and a two-kilo increase on his weight at the age of two. The Vet checked his heart, looked in his ears, and gave him the booster jab. Then he was examined around the eyes, as I talked about the never-ending moulting of fur. He had to have an ‘indicator solution’ dropped into the bad eye, and after a short delay, the colour change (to green) indicated Conjunctivitis. The issue with the fur was diagnosed as yet another yeast infection on the skin, causing the fur to constantly fall out and re-grow.

The treatment will be seven days of eye drops to clear up the right eye. The Vet agreed that we should avoid yet another dose of oral antibiotics and steroids for the skin, but has suggested weekly baths in the special shampoo for the foreseeable future. That in itself is going to be a mission, getting Olie in and out of our small corner bath, and trying to dry him off. I could take him to the groomer every week, but at £32 a time, that option is too expensive.

As he filled out the report on his computer the Vet also discussed Ollie’s age. He will be 8 years old in February. For a Sharpei, that is the human equivalent of 65 years of age, and is why he is slowing down more each month, and sleeping longer. He casually added, “If he sees double figures, I will be happy, but surprised”. I was shocked, and asked him if that was really true. Might Ollie only live for less than two more years? He shrugged. “The oldest one I have ever seen was ten years old. I have never seen one older than that. Too much in-breeding, I’m afraid.”

I paid the £60 bill, and we left. As I was driving home, I wondered if the Vet’s gloomy prediction could be correct.

Life without Ollie in it just doesn’t seem possible.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Unrealistic expectations.

I woke up thinking about electrical items this morning.
Bear with me, and you will see why.

I had to buy a new TV recorder this week. The old one was bought in 2012, and had recently stopped working properly. I hadn’t suspected the device at first, and thought the problem was TV reception in this country area. You may recall a recent post where a young man in a local shop gave me some good advice that cured the problem.

But that cure didn’t last long, unfortunately.

After having to retune the box numerous times in one week, followed by its complete failure to work at all on Wednesday, I knew there was only one solution. I had to buy a new one. I went off to the same shop, saw the same young man, and he happily showed me the selection. When I expressed some doubts over his recommended model, as I had never heard of the brand name, he allowed me to play with one, connected to a TV in the shop. After ten minutes familiarising myself with the device, and remarking how it operated in a similar way to the old one, I decided to buy it.

Handing over £190, I was very pleased to have been able to see it working, and to discover that it was one third of the size of its predecessor, and had double the potential storage too, with 1 TB available.

Of course, once I got home, I found that the old one had decided to come on after all. Had it just been teasing me? I left it on that night, and waited to see if it failed again. Sure enough, the picture began to break up around 10 pm, so I knew that the new one would be going into service the next day.

I am pleased to say that it came with a comprehensive instruction manual, and one that was actually easy to understand too. In a few simple steps, it was set up, and working well. I hope that now I have typed that sentence, it doesn’t decide to get me back!

As I sorted out the old one, ready for disposal, I wondered about why it had suddenly started to work erratically. I realised that it was more than seven years old, and had been on pretty much all day, every day for all of those years. The hard drive had been spinning more times than I could ever have imagined, and the recorded programmes had been stored, watched, and deleted on a daily basis. And this had cost £200, in 2012. That is around 2,555 days, working out close to just 8 pence a day. On balance that old Humax was pretty good value, considering what else you can get for 8 pence.

Yet I expected it to carry on working, for some reason.

As I settled down to configure the new recorder, I concluded that my expectations had been unrealistic.

Things I will never see

I will be 67 years old, on my next birthday. All being well, I might live for another ten years after that, and would consider 77 to be a ‘good run’. If advances in medicine keep me going until 87, and I still remember who I am, then I will be pleased to have had such a long life. But there will be things I will never see in my lifetime, and I confess I would have liked to have been around when some of them happened.

I will never see flying cars, I’m certain of that. I had expected to be driving/flying one, by the time I was 40. Such was my belief in technology and progress in my youth.

I will never see package holidays on distant planets, something I had once expected to have been enjoying many years ago.

I will never see those ‘hologram’ TV shows and films, promised as long ago as the 1970s. Characters running around the room, with me immersed in the action and locations. That won’t happen in time.

I will never see trains running on time in England, with no delays because of things like ‘leaves on the line’

I will never see roads without traffic jams.

I will never see humans restored from cryogenic storage, amazed to ‘live’ again in a new body.

Perhaps more importantly,

I will never see true social equality.

I will never see the end of Royalty, Aristocracy, and privilege by birth.

I will never see a time when workers are treated as equals.

I will never see a time when there are enough decent homes and jobs for everyone.

I will never see a time when people can live without debt.

I will never see a time when poverty is eradicated.

I will never see a time when politicians can be trusted.

And those last seven are things I would really like to see.

What about you? What will you miss never seeing?