Letter: Old is gold

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As Blake Morrison has used his mother's birthday on which to hang his article on old age ("Dance to the music of time", 20 April), we would like to say we would be reluctant to celebrate an 80th birthday with him there, given the disturbing drift of his reflections on growing old. Is he saying that few people born in Co Kerry between 1910 and 1920 and still alive are likely to be sane? Is he saying that "old age" is a fitting medical description of the cause of death? If so, does he understand that the lack of appropriate diagnosis would lead to unnecessary suffering before that death? Surely he is aware of the abuse such a description would lead to. His scorn for old people leaps from the page when he writes of the Third Age activists, "more power to their wrinkly elbow".

There is no underlying conception of the human value of each individual from birth to age and death. What, his mother might enquire, is his solution to the problem of old age? Here is one of his suggestions: "We forget the ease of kindly fatal illnesses like pneumonia".

Sheila and Peter Mann

Leeds

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