Leading article: A new stone age

Years ago, it was common to laugh at the spectacle of pop singers still plying their trade after they had tottered over the threshold of old age and hit a ripe-sounding 40. How quaint that idea of antiquity appears in retrospect, as Mick Jagger and the rest of the Stones – a band with an average age close to 70 – subject the country to a merciless media blitz in connection with the re-release of their album Exile on Main Street.

It was only recently that we had to get used to the idea that 60 was the new 40, which was the new something else. That's already passé. These days, in the pop world at least, 70 is the new 30, or perhaps 20.

Some will scoff at this culture of continuous reinvention as shameless exhibitionism. Others will want to put the band's apparently tireless search for fresh publicity down to greed, and complain of the Stones as masters in the dark arts of media manipulation.

But let's not blame the Stones for wanting to go on and on. They're not the only people turning on its head received wisdom of how pensioners should behave; they're just that bit more visible than the rest. It's increasingly clear that old age is becoming ever more of a moveable concept. As Mick himself might put it, it's not set in stone.

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