There’s no denying that the people most at risk from coronovirus are in the last third of their life. Analysis of the deaths in China shows that adults under 40 who contract the disease have only a 0.2 per cent chance of dying. But the curve rises steeply with age – eight in 100 sufferers in their seventies will die, and that figure rise to 15 per cent for those over 80.
But does that entitle a government – as Boris Johnson has decided – to treat all senior citizens like children who cannot make up their own mind about how to live their lives in the face of a pandemic? To bully us into staying in a small safe zone, contrary to everything we’ve done up to now. Not straying from our backyards, if we have one.
Older people aren’t one homogeneous group with grey hair and walking frames – there are more super-fit seniors now than ever before. I belong to this generation – the boomers who redefined ageing from our teenage years in the 1960s when we invented youth culture, took drugs and enjoyed sex with free contraception.
As we reached our sixties, a huge number of us refused to follow our parents’ example by stopping work to retire and play golf and tend to our gardens. We work, we travel, we are big users of social media. Being old isn’t about elasticated trousers and stair-lifts anymore.
Boomers are now in their seventies – Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Elton John, to name some super-active high achievers, not to mention radical politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Frank Field. Boomers don’t sit down and accept the inevitable; we push back the restrictive boundaries of conventional behaviour and continually fight back.
So when the Prime Minister announced that from this weekend I (along with Rod, Elton and co) am expected to submit to house arrest for 12 weeks, I cried (with rage).