i Editor's Letter: Which other septuagenarians could get the top job?


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The Independent Online


I wonder how Jorge Bergoglio is feeling this morning? The new Pope could be forgiven for feeling a little exhausted: all that intrigue, prayer and staring at the ceiling (more understandable in the Sistine Chapel than most polling stations), plus the adrenalin highs and lows of the “it could be me” wait for white smoke. If it was tough being a pilgrim in the square or the Sky News director with that camera trained on a seagull atop a chimney, imagine how Francis felt?

Now he has the big job, he faces the stress of relocation from Buenos Aires to Rome, and meeting all his new workmates, many of whom will resent him as a “bloody foreigner” coming over and taking a job that traditionally went to indigenous Italians. Plus, he is 76 years old and only has one lung. Somehow, from the way he has started, I think the new Pope is going to cope just fine, both with the public and the private stresses of the Vatican. But he will need a friend or two to pull all the knives out from his back.

A friend asked this week in what other walk of life could you still get the big promotion to the top job aged 76? It left me stumped. It’s older even than the Rolling Stones or Ryan Giggs. Even Xi Jinping, the new President of China, is only 59. I know Rupert Murdoch at 82 has his titles shifted around now and then but he’s had the top job for decades. I guess that only leaves us with poor Prince Charles, currently aged 64. He waits, that’s what he does.

Perhaps readers can enlighten me about any septuagenarians (and older) who take top jobs? And then, once you have racked your brains and come up with a cardinal here or a president there, you can repeat the same exercise only this time focusing on 70-something women. See you all on Monday.