Wednesday, 4 May 2016

You are old, Father William, the young man said

(Thoughts prompted by a snippet in the Guardian today and written in an idle moment in the waiting room of the Royal Eye Infirmary in Plymouth).

I am approaching 69 (unbelievable, eh? Thank you, I know I look a lot younger. And I've still got all my own teeth and hair) and I retired from full-time work some 10 years ago. I do not miss work. I do not want to work. Indeed, to be completely honest, I know I no longer have the energy to hold down a 'proper' job. I know that, although I'm functioning at an adequate sort-of-good-for-my-age level, I'm no longer at the top of my game.

Think about what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic. Donald Trump will soon be 70. Hillary Clinton will soon be 69. Bernie Sanders is 74. Ted Cruz, now ex-candidate Cruz, was younger but seemed like to me that he was born sometime during the American Civil War. The question I have is: why do these people want to be President of the United States?

Why do people who are at an age when their peers grow more and more tired want to take on the most difficult job in the world? How are these people, who are at an age where others lose stamina, concentration, and strength, the only candidates for a job that requires more stamina, strength and concentration than probably any other job in the world? Why does anyone want this job? Why do senior citizens who have fame, money, and prestige want to suddenly take on the position of the most powerful person in the world?
It goes without saying that I would not want to be the most powerful person in the world. But I suppose that I/we must be glad there are some people who want the job, even if they are older than what I think the job demands. The President of the United States is a job that requires a person to be at the top of their game. No one, in my opinion, is at the top of their game at seventy. I don’t want a seventy year old drilling my teeth. I don’t want a seventy year old in the operating room. Yes, seventy year olds have experience. Yes, they offer great advice. Yes, they have a world of knowledge. But they are not at the top of their game.

If I were a voter in the USA (and I am ever so glad that I'm not), I would want a President who is at the top of his/her game; ideally someone with strength, stamina and concentration; someone in good health who can be expected to stay in good health for at least four years. I'm not sure that the three remaining in the race fit the bill. But what do I know?

Not a lot but I do know that I like this song by They Might Be Giants. It's called 'Older' and has a reassuring message for us all. And I'm older now than when I started composing this post. Singing 'Happy Birthday' will never be the same again.

No comments: