By Barry Duke
RECENT reports that the retirement age of Brits is to be raised once again suggests to me that the cash-strapped, Brexit-bemired British government is secretly hoping that crumblies such as I would just hurry up and snuff it instead of tottering on into extreme old age.
But there’s a better solution to the Treasury’s problem, one that will not only produce bucket-loads of dosh to pay the final multi-billion pound Brexit divorce bill but will also finance a world-class health service.
Make me Chancellor of the Exchequer and I’ll immediately begin implementing a five-point plan designed to put the economy back on an even keel – and ensure that people die happy well before old age puts them back in nappies and renders them completely gaga.
1: I’ll introduce a state subsidised scheme that will compel everyone over the age of 60 to buy a high-powered motorcycle. Anyone riding on an open road at less than 80 mph will face heavy fines. Crash helmets will be outlawed.
2: I’ll provide free tobacco and alcohol to everyone over the age of 65.
3: I’ll decriminalise cannabis use, and encourage everyone over the age of 60 to turn their gardens and allotments over to weed cultivation. Fifty percent of the profit made from dope sales will go to the Treasury.
4: I’ll provide generous grants to the over-60s who’d love to live dangerously, but haven’t the cash to pay for things like skydiving, running with bulls in Pamplona, tight-rope walking between tower blocks without a safety net, being shot from cannons, wing-walking on vintage aircraft, wrestling alligators in Florida, or swimming in piranha-infested waters.
- I’ll give a massive grant to support the work of the Society for Rational Old Age Suicide. Oh yes, SOARS really does exist.
Taken together, I estimate that that will cut the cost of state pensions and geriatric care by a whopping 80 percent.
Of course, the government has only itself to blame for the fact that we are carrying on well beyond our “sell-by” dates. For decades, politicians and other assorted do-gooders have been giving us incessant ear-ache about the dangers of “unhealthy lifestyles”, and millions unthinkingly fell for their sanctimonious blather.
Not content with simply bombarding us with propaganda, the UK “health police” gave themselves draconian powers to ban smoking in bars, then extended the ban to vast swathes of the great outdoors.
They put gruesome images of diseased lungs and throats on fag packages, and then forced retail outlets to conceal their cigarette stocks behind shutters. For pity’s sake, there are now even health warnings on booze bottles and beer cans, but curiously, not on cars which belch out terrifying levels of carcinogenic fumes and, in crashes, seriously injure around 27,000 people a year in the UK.
Back in 2004, outraged by a report that the then Health Secretary Alan Milburn had urged people to significantly extend their lives by taking 30 minutes of exercise each day, I blasted off a letter to the Brighton Argus, saying that, in common with most politicians, Milburn hadn’t bothered to take a reality check before trumpeting his “get-healthy-live-live- longer” appeal.
The reality, then, as it is now, is that Britain is entirely incapable of taking care of its existing elderly population, and the NHS will ultimately collapse under the weight of people who packed in the fags and the booze and are now desperately regretting having deprived themselves of pleasures that an assortment of pious prodnoses deemed “life threatening”.
What’s important about life is its quality, not its length. The horrors that accrue from living with debilitating age-related conditions are well known, and I, for one, would far rather drop dead outside a bar sucking on an e-cigarette and necking Famous Grouse than faffing around waiting for the arrival of a scythe-bearing hoodie.