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Let Me Die A Youngman's Death

August 3, 2016

Recently, a client loaned me a book of “The Nation’s Favourite Poems” to read on holiday. I found a bunch of great poetry I’d studied at school and never thought of since. I also discovered plenty of pieces which bent my brain a little. I’m not a poetry reader and I confess to being mostly attracted to the “single pagers” like this one by Roger McGough.




Let Me Die A Youngman's Death



Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death

not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death




I think it sums up perfectly the way many of us think about the ageing process and to me it especially demonstrates that benefit of living life as if we’re invincible. Much of my work is taken up with reducing client’s risk of illness, speeding up recovery and ensuring longevity. The methods are fairly boring:  eat this, not that; do your exercises; plan your week’s activites and so on. Roger McGough reminded me with ease that the only purpose of adhering to these strictures is so we can continue to engage in the kind of adventures which may lead to “A Youngman’s Death”.


Let me plan the boring stuff for you so we can all get to the all night party. Enjoy a youngman’s life.

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