It’s terrible what a lack of discrimination (in the word’s original sense of possessing the judgement and discernment ability to see or make fine distinctions) can do to a man. (Or, no doubt, to a woman.) Last night I found myself watching The Science of the Young Ones, where a motley selection of the more elderly type of celeb were assembled in a 1970s house (lots of orange, patterned everything) and removed from all those associative triggers that have been whispering into their discreet hearing aids that they are old. The theory was that they’d feel – and act – younger. I’m obviously of the wrong generation for the experiment:I couldn’t stop recalling Oscar Wilde’s deathbed comment that “”My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go”. But the evidence – from Harvard professors, no less – was that the celebrities were indeed rejuvenated by the experience.
Once the world stopped telling them they were old (and not just in words, but in stereotypical images, TV characters, stair-lift adverts and so on), they stopped feeling so old. Given more control over their self-image and freed from a constant negative background babble, they regained valuable aspects of themselves. Mental agility and recall improved. One walked unaided having previously been in a wheelchair. And Lionel Blair choreographed on the stage of The Palladium for the first time in 30 years. (You win some, …)