OPINION: Age is just a number. Or it was until Covid
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We’ve all got to pull together right now - not just the over-50s, says Rachel Moore
50 is no longer the new 30, or even the new 40, according to ‘Rona Rules.
50 and the potential frailties living for more than five decades presents us very much in the spotlight, thanks to leaked Cabinet ‘war room’ discussions.
Those elected to make decisions about our lives apparently seriously considered telling the over-50s to stay under house arrest to prevent a second wave. and let everyone else get on with life.
Now, where you fall in those online questionnaires indicates how you will be treated – and if you’ll be allowed out of the house.
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Fast-accelerating rampant ageism is emerging as another unwelcome Covid side-effect, with generations being pitched against one another in a blame game.
Finger-pointing looms large in fault-finding about warnings of a so-called ‘second spike’, with, as far as I can see, little medical evidence to back any of it up.
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But then, as former TV political editor John Sergeant said last week, if you’re not confused about what you can and cannot do, you’re not well-informed, or words to that effect.
The more you read and try to find out, the more befuddled you become about what’s right and what’s not. Frankly, I haven’t a clue about what I’m supposed to do and not do.
But part of the government ‘strategy’ has become a Generation Game, or more Generation Wars. The 18-30s, 49-60s, and over-70s are all blaming each other for ruining and risking each others’ lives.
The elderly say the under-30s are wrecking everything for everyone else by galivanting around pubs, on the beaches and holding illegal raves. Selfish super-spreaders.
They’ve self-isolated for months, only to be put at risk by the selfish hedonistic young embracing all that is good about summer and getting out.
The young retort, perhaps a little too harshly, at the old for ‘losing’ and sacrificing’ months of their lives (and jobs and travel opportunities) by staying at home to protect the elderly in the final chapters of their lives.
In the middle of this, the over-50s have been getting on with housefuls of grumpy young adults who went ‘home’ for lockdown and making sure their elderly parents were safe, fed and watered for four months behind closed doors.
Now, exhausted from all that caring and working at home for months, just as they’re bursting out to the restaurants to take advantage of Rishi’s half-price deals in pubs, museums and wherever else is open to live again, it emerges they were in the firing line to be ordered to keep out of sight.
Good old cabinet. How to insult and upset the very people injecting a bit of cash into the economy, and its target voters.
Hardly doddery, feeble or vulnerable, but the power house of the country and its economy.
The government just doesn’t learn. Hot on the heels of the ‘Go Home over-50s’ revelation was the ‘schools v pubs’ debate, warning that pubs might have to close so children can go back to school next month.
How these ageist and badly thought-out ‘plans’ to avoid another lockdown have even been voiced is astonishing.
Even more astonishing is that these plans were being discussed after shielding people were allowed out for the first time since March – as rates were rising – into a world where nothing had changed. More bemusement.
Pitting generations against one another can never be healthy or helpful for a society who are ‘all in it together.’
Apparently, there is an increase in risk for Coronavirus once a person reaches middle age.
The outraged lycra-clad ‘never been fitter’ over-50s cyclists are outraged, trashing their obese creaky jointed 30-something neighbours as far more unfit and ‘at risk’ than them.
Many moons ago as a trainee journalist, I remember describing a female road accident victim as an ‘elderly woman’. She was 58 - two years older than me.
But, until a vaccine, no one is immune and feeling young and active is just that – a feeling.
Raising the spectre of additional risk at 50 is borne out by high-profile cases.
Kate Garraway is back presenting Good Morning Britain as her 53-year-old husband, Derek Draper, still lies in hospital where he has been since March
I’ve met Derek a few times in our student days when we were contemporaries in student activism in the North West in the late 80s.
I followed his career after he left Manchester for London, where he worked for the Blair administration. How devastating and life-changing Covid has been for him and his family.
Another acquaintance in Norfolk was struck similarly by Covid in his early-50s and, although recovered now, was badly affected.
What’s more and more evident is that we really don’t have a clue about who is at risk, and the government is shooting in the dark about which way to turn.
But one thing is for sure, we are heading for the biggest financial crisis of our time.
So, stop trashing age groups and wash your hands, wear a mask and get back to work, all while keeping your distance.
Assess your own risks and live life.