I'm looking forward to life when I'm 120

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The Independent Culture
WOULD YOU like to live to the age of 120? That's what something called the Future Foundation is predicting. It says that babies born in the next decade will grow up to have three different careers, then retire from work at 80. After that they'll just mess about, enjoying themselves, before popping off at the age of 120.

Sounds brilliant to me. But I want it to happen now, in my time. Otherwise it's not fair. It would mean I'd be only half-way through my life now, or what passes for my life, the only one I know so far, with the best yet to come. I would have just so much to look forward to.

For example, I would be able to give the Equitable Life Assurance Society pension fund a really good hammering. I started to take my pension last year, when I realised how appallingly low the annuity rates had dropped. How daft I'd been to put my savings in to a pension, when I should have invested in property. So I started to take it out, however puny it was, thinking that the sooner I started, the more likely I'd get back at least some of what I'd put in.

If I were to live for another 60 years, I'd be laughing, wouldn't I? I'd be quids in. Well worth hanging on for.

In another 60 years, I'd probably see England win something. Not anything amazing, not like another World Cup. I think you'd have to live to be 320 years old to see that happening. But perhaps an England team capable of giving the Faeroes a good seeing-to.

In 60 years, I might see Carlisle United back in the top division, Joe Kinnear manager of Spurs, the Tories back in power, Prince Charles become King, Lord Lucan return, and Gordon Brown get married to dear Sarah Macaulay.

Probably no chance of seeing Fidel Castro die. I was in Cuba last year and every Cuban tells you jokes about Castro planning to live for ever, still delivering seven-hour speeches. He gets given a baby elephant by a maharaja and asks how long elephants live. When he's told 150 years, he bursts into tears. "It means I'll see the elephant die..."

I would see my first and so far only grandchild, Amelia, aged four months, get to 60, which would be good. We'd go on the bus, each with our bus pass, or have Saga hols together. She'd probably be a grandma by then and I would have scores and scores of great-great-grandchildren. Hmm. The birthday presents. Do I want all that? Be worth it, though, to find out what happened to them all. Dying at 75, which is what is currently predicted in actuarial terms, will be so annoying, like having to come out of a film before the end.

All the rubbish things I collect, and have collected for years - stamps, postcards, letters, newspapers, programmes - would become fantastically valuable because they would be so jolly old. Aged 119, I'd start selling them at Sotheby's, and spend, spend, spend. If I had health and strength. Who wants 45 years of retirement - on life support?

It's all a nonsense, of course. These predictors predict forward based on what is happening now, or what appears to be happening now. It is true that in 1900 the average male life expectancy was 45, compared with 75 today. So if you project forward enough, you can probably prove that we'll all get to 120.

In medieval times, or in poor countries today, the average male only got to 30. But, in biblical times, they talked about "three score and 10" as being the desired aim of everyone. If they could manage to get to 70, 2,000 years ago, what happened later? Where did we go wrong? Was life just so damn healthy, living out in the desert, wearing sandals and that?

Looking back, we see that the past has rarely proceeded in straight lines, so why should the future? The future, like the past, is likely to twist and turn, go sideways and backwards. All the same, I'd like to be there, in the future. And getting to tomorrow, that will do for now.