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Let Me Die A Youngman's Death

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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