Charles Nevin: There's life in these old bones yet, kids

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The Independent Online

As someone with a consistent record of keeping a closely concerned eye on these things, I couldn't help noticing that the last few days have been pretty good ones for that often neglected and frequently denigrated constituency, the old.

Indeed, stimulating, invigorating and uplifting news was coming in from all parts, starting with the American survey showing that over half those between 65 and 74 are still enjoying active sex lives, and a quarter of those between 75 to 85. In the past, experts would certainly have predicted lower figures than that over here in Britain, but I wouldn't be so sure now, since, as other experts have been telling us relentlessly, our television has really gone off.

This might also explain the other finding, that people over 64 in Britain spend more time on-line than any other age group. Younger age groups will now realise where their parents have gone, and who it is who tells the seven-year-olds how to operate the digital stuff.

Younger age groups seemed surprised by the sex thing, too, although it is not a new phenomenon. In Rajasthan, for example, Nanu Ram Jogi, 90, a farmer, is now a proud father for at least the 21st time. Slightly earlier, I recall that Lord Palmerston fathered an illegitimate child in his eighties, leading Disraeli, who was fighting a general election against him at the time, to predict, "he will sweep the country". He did.

This instinct is doubtless behind the recent pictures of Presidents Putin and Sarkozy, both in their fifties, naked from the waist up. Someone, equally doubtless young and thin, has pointed out that the Frenchman's experienced waistline had been artificially diminished. And Putin is now a gay icon. My advice: leave it, Ming, it's not worth it.

Elsewhere in the age-related sector, residents of homes for the elderly in New York State have overturned a ban on d oughnuts; the Hove house of Mr John Hatchett, 81, is now worth 400 times what his family paid for it in 1929; and not only has the world's oldest piece of chewing gum been found, but the oldest footprint, too.

You will want to know whether the gum had been on the shoe that made the footprint; sadly, the 5,000-year-old piece of gum was found in Finland, while the footprint was in Egypt, imprinted on a piece of stone and almost two million years older. No news yet – and this is a relevant cautionary note for a Bank Holiday – whether it is also the first case in history of a bit of careless DIY.

While we're dealing with today's festival of the hug and the mug, I suspect that the older people will once again be proving the superiority of relaxed experience by resisting the insidious, authority-sanctioned pressure to enjoy ourselves together.

They seem, after all, to have quite a lot to do indoors. I should perhaps mention at this point the 57-year-old former Welsh miner who has employed his "silver surfing" expertise to arrange more than 1,000 assignations involving what The Sun newspaper winningly describes as a bit of "grey-hey".

Remarkable. Is there some sort of vital secret that comes with maturity? Clearly, no one has told me yet. Only last week, Mrs Edna Parker, 114, of Shelbyville, Indiana, the world's oldest person, declined, graciously, to confide how she'd managed it. In the meantime, though, I note that Pam Ayres has taken up skiing.

Spare a thought for the winners

Sport makes many calls on sympathy: for gallant losers, stumblers, chokers, twitchers, hobblers, weepers and sudden succumbers to the red mist. But who spares a thought for the favourites, fated to be faintly damned for fulfilling their destiny and efficiently crushing fragile dreams? Such were my noble, disinterested thoughts as I went hoarse watching St Helens efficiently crush the gallant Catalan Dragons in the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final on Saturday. I enjoyed the new Wembley, too, even if it doesn't yet possess the romance that that filled the shabby old place along with the rich aroma from the burger stands, now replaced by fancier catering. Someone had left a pie, though; French, presumably. But now, the traditional act of sympathy for my Wigan friends: one of our lads providing a pictorial aide memoire of what winning the Cup looks like.

* Something else I will clearly also have to acquire the wisdom of age to understand is why we have so many laws so vigorously enforced in what everyone claims is an increasingly lawless society. Or do you think they might possibly be related?

There's the 12-year-old boy in Manchester who was acquitted last week of a charge of assault with a cocktail sausage. He follows one wantonly throwing a snowball in Burnley who wasn't so lucky. And then there's the prospect of a trial for the two girls who thought it would be a giggle to flash their embonpoints at a CCTV camera on Worthing beach.

The one that really intrigued me, though, was the bloke on his laptop outside a house in Chiswick arrested on suspicion of stealing a broadband connection. This has potential.

Until now, for example, I've been scornfully cavalier with those signs people insist on placing in their convenient driveways, "No Turning". And, if you're reading this over somebody's shoulder, stop it right now or check for a camera.

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