Age is a number, not a condition

MY friend's father was made redundant last week. He was 75. He loved his work as a plumber and is distraught that the structure of his day and week has been forced to a sharp end.

MY friend's father was made redundant last week. He was 75. He loved his work as a plumber and is distraught that the structure of his day and week has been forced to a sharp end.

His wife, 70, also still works as a nurse. She's worked nights in a hospital as long as she can remember and still relishes life at the sharp end, rarely sick and never weary.

Retirement holds no appeal.

They keep a holiday home in Cyprus where they fly several times a year and spend their weekends treating their grandchildren to away trips.

Working with people gives their life a purpose and fulfillment. It keeps them fit, sharp of mind and in touch.

And why shouldn't they? Why should they be forced to stop doing what they love because of a date on their birth certificate?

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Esther Rantzen is 70 this year and is hoping for a new career after the General Election. After a remarkable relentless career she is campaigning hard to become MP for Luton.

She looks fantastic and is as energetic, razor sharp and driven now - probably more so - than she was 30 years ago. Stephanie Beacham on Celebrity Big Brother shows on Celebrity Big Brother that 62 is no age.

A cheek to suggest either are too old to work. No wonder people lie about their ages.

This week the Equality and Human Rights Commission said older workers should be allowed to work beyond 65.

The Government says if people worked an extra 18 months it would save the country �15 billion a year and reduce the national debt.

Research by the commission shows more than half of older workers think the retirement age is too young.

Seventy is the new 50. With another 20-odd years of life ahead, retirement can feel like a life sentence.

Some 70 year olds are as able and nimble as 40 year olds, some are more like 90.

A 20-year-old can seem positively middle aged while a 69-year-old as fit as a 30 year old.

More than ever, age is just a number not a condition.

It's a state of mind, if the body is willing.

But what of the army of young people training for those jobs in the looming skills gap employers have been warning if the older workers stay at work?

Where will be the jobs for the 50pc of young people being sausage-factoried through our 'unis' - oh how I hate universities being dumbed down to 'uni' just like the courses they churn out. It's university.

Author Martin Amis warned this week a 'silver tsunami' of old people could lead to a civil war between the old and the young in 10 to 15 years time.

A war built on resentment, the young blaming the old for over-populating their communities and soaking up resources.

His warning is valid.

Oldies hogging all the jobs and stringing out their careers while their grandchildren and great grandchildren can't even start theirs is an imaginable scenario.

We're as old as we feel and not what people tell us to feel. But that's the issue and not the answer.

Let's hope our nation's defence secrets are safer in the hands of Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth than the date of the General Election.

Blunder Bob's gaffe was TV magic. Out slipped the fateful words, fear descended over his eyes and that moustache started a guilty twitch.

A Basil Fawlty 'don't the mention the war' moment. But this man isn't a comedy act running a dodgy hotel in Torquay. He's in charge of our defences.

Now we know when, can we stand another 14 weeks of the posturing. David Cameron coming over all Superman promising to mend broken Britain. It'll take more than words and a few tax breaks.

But Tony Blair might be locked up for war crimes by then serving as a welcome distraction.

I vowed never to watch another Big Brother years ago but this year's Celebrity Big Brother has been a corker.

Vinnie Jones proves nasty tough boys grow up to be good softie guys.

Stephanie Beacham and Ivana Trump are golden girls who should have their own TV series.

And Alex Reid, cage fighter cum cross dresser Roxanne, is a great big pumped-up vain, media-obsessed, dimwit show-off lummox who makes everyone's heart sing that Katie Price aka Jordan has at last found the man she truly deserves.

Two brothers aged 11 and 12 were locked away for the most terrible acts of inhumanity against two other children.

Their parents, who raised these boys like savages, with no examples of right or wrong, feeding them a visual diet of hardcore pornography and graphic violent horror films and no moral guidance whatsoever, are free to carry on their depraved lives at the taxpayers' expense.

Where is the justice?

These boys were who they are because of their. At 10 and 11, when they committed their crimes, they had been desensitised to people's feelings, had no empathy, compassion or understanding at all of the consequences of their actions because their parents had failed in the most basic of all parenting.

If, as children, they watched horror film after horror film how could they know what's real and what's fantasy?

Labelled the Doncaster Devil Boys, they have been criticised for showing no remorse. They've never been shown normal human emotions and love so how can they be expected to know remorse.

Society needs to be protected from these boys but their parents should pay a price for making them into the boys they are.

The long process of humanizing them starts here and might never be successful. Their brains could be corrupted beyond conversion.

Despite murmurings about possible charges of child neglect, these parents are still free.

Surely, for children so young dragged up in this environment, the adults, those allowed by social services to keep their children on benefits of up to �400-a-week, are just as culpable for the horrors inflicted on their poor young victims as the boys.

New year, new wedding season and everyone is still sharing the same dress.

From wedding photos in newspapers, it looks like we exist in an old eastern bloc regime with one choice of dress. Same shape, same colour, same style whatever the bride's size and shape.

The one solitary dress that fell victim to the mystery sleeve cutter.

Every bride goes strapless these days. I've given up playing 'hunt the sleeve' in wedding galleries. They just don't exist.

The mystery of the disappearing sleeves has even reached national papers, with a letter to the fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph begging her for help to track down a wedding dress with sleeves, long or short, such is the crisis.

The thing is, strapless dresses actually suit very few people, unless bingo wings are your thing.

And in January with all that goosepimply blotchy flesh and cleavages unsupported to play havoc.

For a generation who relishes 'being different' it's odd all the brides want to look the same, like one of those boards at the seaside where you stick your head through a hole on top of a painted body.

A much cheaper option - and someone else's thin arms and shapely shoulders underneath.

Think again and cover up, unless you're the one woman in 50 it actually suits

Finally, after 10 years of painful campaigning by Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was killed by a paedophile, Sarah's Law, paedophile alert system is to be extended across the country.

Parents will have the right to ask police if anyone with regular unsupervised access to their children has a conviction for child sex offences - a mother's new boyfriend, sports coaches, neighbours.

But why has this obvious protective step taken so long?

Explain to a child that parents have had no right to ask police if anyone they're with could pose a danger to them and they'd be perplexed.

'Why not?' Why not indeed.

Protecting children should always be a top priority not, as it feels sometimes, the last resort.

After 13 years of wholesome home cooking, serving up all manner of pureed vegetables to him as a baby through to most meals lovingly prepared from scratch, ensuring his five a day and more, older son, now 13, was bursting with excitement at his latest taste sensation discovery.

'It was delicious, Mum. So lovely.'

What had his seasoned palette sampled for the first time? Sushi? Thai green curry?

No, a Pot Noodle.

'It was chicken and mushroom. Can we get some?' he said, as I paled, contemplating the burns and scars on my hob-sore hands.

'I remember having my first Pot Noodle at about your age,' I said, trying not to show my disappointment in his enthusiasm for rehydrated gloop.

'You've had one,' he sniffed in disgust. 'They're that old, are they? I thought they were new and didn't think they were around when you were young.' Suddenly he'd gone off his brand new food discover.

Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson has raised �160,00 for Haiti relief bicycling round a park with his father by an amazing Internet fund-raising effort.

Money given by ordinary people struggling to make their own ends meet.

If every celebrity - yes, you, singers recording Simon Cowell's Haiti single - gave a tiny percentage of their amassed fortune much of the problem would be solved.

In the US, has-been jaded celebs answered phones to donors in a phonathon. They grinned at the cameras hoping for a career revival doing their bit for 'charidee.' How much did they pledge each, I wonder.

Musician and writer Billy Bragg is urging people to refuse pay their taxes on Sunday if FAT At bajkers bonuses are paid to RBS chiefs.

How about those fat cats funneling their bonuses into Haiti relief after they were bailed out by the British taxpayers now showing such generation to a tragedy overseas?