Seniors should have their moment
From：The Guardian View：547 Date：2015-01-05
Is old a dirty word? Not, of course, when describing valuable antiques. Or when it’s “Come on, old boy” or “That’s a good old girl” and the word refers only to how long you’ve known the person. Or when it’s a sort of Auld Lang Syne nostalgia. But apparently those who worry about such things are scratching their heads about how the seriously old should tactfully be described, and have come up with the title of “real seniors”.
Whether there actually are any “unreal” seniors – putting flour in their hair, trying to get a free bus pass and bagging all the disabled seats – I rather doubt. But the name does beat “crone” or “hag”, I suppose. Macbeth thought “that which should accompany old age” was “honour, love, obedience, troups of friends”. It used to be quite clear that if you were really old you’d stopped working and expected people to think you wise and give you their seat – not much of which still applies.
Perhaps a “real senior” still fits that description – those who have totally retired could well be called real seniors, but then we need a new word for those still going – if not strong at least still at it; those who still enjoy what Ros Altmann, late of Saga, calls their “bonus years” and academics call “emeritus years”; those of us who, as the saying goes, “could pass for 61 in the shade with the light behind us”. Any suggestions?