Peter York On Ads
Adjustamatic: Nice bed, shame about the colours
Sunday 18 February 2007
He's Harrovian, called Aubrey de Grey, hair practically to his knees. Apparently an expert in scientific immortality. Matey with those Americans who super-freeze you until they find a cure for whatever killed you ... It doesn't sound good, does it?
Christopher Sykes seems to think it does. His documentary Do you want to live forever? established that X de Y really was called that, was a Harrovian and seemed to be an Cambridge Prof. A lot of tolerably clever Brits and Americans were prepared to discuss his ideas. So I put my instinctive reaction aside. It didn't last. I was losing faith in Christopher's judgement when he revealed that Aubrey wasn't a Prof of anything, but a former IT buy/lab technician type.
Immortality, life extension and the rest, always a hot subject, is now looking dangerously close. 50's the new 30? Feeling miles less decrepit than your parents at the same age? So every reason for other famously forensic minds - Mrs C Blair, the Sadie Frost set, and their ilk - to believe the most absolute tosh.
Don't they know that widespread immortality, or even a couple of hundred years lifespan would provoke what the great poet/novelist Randall Jarrell called "quite unbearable irritability". Better a more modest allowance but really high quality.
They're working on that already. At every level. On the back pages of the mid-market tabloids you can see advertised the low-tech quality-of-life stuff they're turning out for the comfortable 70 through 90 crowd. There are those baths with doors in them advertised by smiling swimsuited ladies of 50. Things on wheels. And motorised everything.
The motorised bed, in particular. A bed that raises head or feet at the touch of a button. A bed that warms up, one that does massage. A bed that's practically the stuff of a 1930s comedy.
Everything in the new Adjustamatic bed commercial is rendered in a cream and maroon lower mid-price hotel style. Maroony headboard, cream paint, maroon carpet with a dirt-hiding fleck. And it's presented by Gloria Hunniford. We've all been watching for the successor to Dame Thora Hird in her role of as presenter of ads for the old.But what a coup to get Gloria, only in her 60s and still active in the God Slot, to read the autocue here. 'Do you ache when you wake?", she leads off. (This market likes a little rhyme.) "Or start the day feeling tired? The solution could be in the bedroom." No one's expecting any kind of sauciness from Gloria. It's easy to imagine her as the Irish proprietor and matron of a rather-well-run Twilight Home.
A fully-clothed young woman -25 tops - then demonstrates the shapes the Adjustamatic can throw while Gloria battles on with the long-copy approach that research says you need with anyone before the Baby-boomers.
She's into another patch of Fine Writing "an infinite range of positions, suited to a variety of medical conditions". It sounds utterly filthy to me, but not a glimmer from Gloria. It's the language of those classic Victorian print ads that begin "as used by the crowned heads of Europe".
You can get a free home demonstration of course, which provokes a completely David Walliams gerontophile picture of old parties being asked to lie back to get the feeling.
It's so difficult to get these hotel-room colours right. A woman who watched the commercial with me said she reckoned it was nearer rust - or call it dried blood.
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