Since moving to Menton on the Riviera we have made friends with a number of people in their eighties and nineties. The astonishing thing about this is that at first we thought they were in their sixties or seventies. It was only when we did swift mental calculations when they were recounting events from their lives, or they told us their age, that we realised our mistake.
The mistake arose because these people were hale and hearty, interested in what was going on in the world and still making long-term plans for their own future. I contrasted this with people of the same age back in Britain. They are, in the main, less healthy, less mobile and less sure of their future lives. British towns are awash with people darting about in electric wheel-chairs. In Menton, old people stride out with at most a stick or a friend to lean upon.
I don’t know the reason for this difference. Is it because the more sprightly are more likely to make the adventurous move from the familiarity of home to the different world of the Mediterranean. Or is it that the life-style, ambiance and climate of the Riviera make people feel and act young?
Whichever it is, I want more of this. The chances of us returning to Britain are receding by the day. So here’s to all our octogenarian and nonagenarian friends. As Mr Spock would say: “Live long and prosper.”