Kathy Burke: Growing Up, Channel 4, All4, Written, Presented and Produced by Kathy Burke.


 Kathy Burke and me are around the same age. We belong to the UB40 generation of Red, Red Wine and I am the 1 in 10. Now we are the 1 in 5 growing like a cancerous cell. We belong to a vanguard army that plays a leading role in dementia and death, and most other things you’d rather not think about. Over 9 in 10 Covid deaths belonged to our age group. I didn’t vote for being old. I didn’t say I’m going to nip out at 60 and come back aged 23 as most cryogenic believers assume when they freeze their brains. When Prime Minister and Liberal MP H.H. Asquith for the coalmining region of East Fife implemented the Old Age Pension in 1908, based on the Prussian model under Bismarck, few if any of his constituents would live long enough to collect it. The equivalent age to collect your state pension now would be aged 100. Revenge of from-the- cradle-to- grave baby boomers.

We know how it works. Judi Dench plays the lead roles in any drama where the actress needs to be over 70. Helena Bonham Carter gets to play the vaguely pretty, with the upper-crust accent, aged between 35 to 55. Kathy Burke gets roles such as Null by Mouth in which she is ageless. Here she gets to meet with old friends such as Absolutely Fabulous Jennifer Saunders, aged 64. No great insights are offered as they schmooze. I didn’t catch what age Bill Bailey is. But he was the oldest contestant to win Strictly.  Maybe he should run for President in the USA. It seems you need to be over 80. I’m not going to bring up that old Ronald Reagan joke about, well, Ronald Reagan fluffing his lines.  The moron’s moron, Trump, once called the mother of the model he was dating, while married to a less up-to-date newer model, ‘an old hag’, even though she was younger than him. Bailey was funny about one of the few things that make males invisible—for females there are many more—which is going bald. #Me-too. He thought about hair transplants, but the place where he’d have to go to for treatment was Wigton.

Burke also visited a pensioner who worked as a model. Good luck with that. And another who worked weekdays as a dominatrix. She complained her state pension was only around £600 a month whist her mortgage was around £900. But pensioners are net benefiters of Maggie Thatcher’s great council house giveaway. We need to build two million houses to have any chance of meeting demand or over 100 000 houses a year to stand still. Most pensioners don’t have a mortgage. Increases in house prices are regarded as money for nothing, or windfall-profits, in conservative fiefdoms and yet as something worked for and deserved. Outrage follows when property needs to be sold to meet care costs.

A co-housing scheme with pensioners sharing their lives and property looked great and sounded great. I’m all for it. But it’s spit into the oceans of global warming. Burke didn’t ask the hard questions. What happens when that sprightly old woman at 90 gets dementia? Being the wrong kind of old is the same as being the wrong kind of young. It’s a class issue, not an age issue. Look what happened at Grenfell. The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington Council with £120 000 000 surplus, but squabbling over £3.50 extra for an insulating tile that’s too expensive, but later admit liability, well, kinda, but not really.  Look away. Walk away? But not if you’re above the ground floors and are elderly or disabled. Then the burn-through rate is almost 100%. I’m as good as anyone else. Until it’s my turn. Then I’m too costly. Then I’m really old and worthless.


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