Once the charity auction closes, the wait is anxious. Which i reader has been generous enough to part with a sizeable wedge for the (somewhat dubious) prize of having lunch with the editor? This year it was Darin Nayager, a businessman and patron of the arts. Being a big-hearted chap, he wanted to subject his friend Kate Monro, the writer, to my small talk.
“I can arrange some pre-lunch entertainment for you,” Darin promised. “An office visit with a routine from my good friend Madame Galina.” Having established that Madame Galina was a 15-stone Welsh bloke in a tutu called Iestyn, it proved impossible to find a convenient moment to accommodate the performance.
Lunch flew by. Kate collects compelling human tales – as you might expect from the writer-in-residence at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, where she collates the life stories of the Chelsea Pensioners. She has also authored an unusual book on love and sex, interviewing people aged 20 to 90+ for Losing It: How We Lost Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years.
What will our relationships look like in 50 years? Kate pondered, given the tilting gender balance. She was struck by the pioneering recent research by Dr Jacqui Gabb, who has found that spending some time apart, simple thank-yous and making cups of tea for your partner all help to strengthen partnerships.
And what will old age be like for those in their teens and twenties now? Kate asked. The experience of the Chelsea Pensioners had inspired her – it was a bustling community where members appeared to feel valued, adding smiles to people’s faces and years to their lives. Perhaps, she suggested, when today’s youth age, missing the pensions we take for granted, they will group together in busy communes. A cheerier conclusion.