Radical Thinking – Aging

Posted on 20/01/2010 by


I was pretty sceptical when I heard we were going to get our guests rapping on this show. Not that they don’t have energy or spark, but Paul Chapman and Janet Powney are, to put it respectfully, somewhat advanced in years. Janet certainly didn’t seem too impressed on the train on the way over to Glasgow, and to the trendy premises of Tron 103.

But Darren, or DJ Loci as he prefers to be called when he’s working, proved a fantastic teacher. He works with young people from troubled backgrounds in the city, getting them to channel their energy and their voices into rap.

He advised them to choose a subject that they really knew well – which reminded me of the kind of advise you give to new writers.

“A good way to develop your idea is to use a mind map” he said. “Anyone familiar with that?”

So, Janet and Paul start forming bubbles of words and ideas – Janet’s was about “things gone and things now,” and Paul’s was about the weighty topic of security and freedom. Paul is American, and has one of those rich, deep accents that makes the word freedom sound like a warm blanket.

And surprisingly quickly, the words started flowing from our contributors, mashing the thoughts and themes together.

“Under security, fear, locks, isolation… under freedom, openness, availability, risk.”

Paul’s words and thoughts were quite theoretical…Janet’s were more concrete. She said that people didn’t queue at bus stops any more – they lurked. And people ate in the streets. There was a lack of respect.

Janet’s Rap…

“It’s no feat to eat in the street, gobbling fast, striding past.

Not like it was a while ago, sitting at home, eating slow,

Knife and fork, fire aglow, no text or phone, just mum to moan.

Back to the street, friends to meet. Get on the mobile, show some style.

Lurk on the bus, no bother for us.

Where is respect?”

Paul’s Rap…

“Locked in prison of their own making,

friends with limited imagination

Suffering isolation,

Fear of the world, ever changing.


So, why the exercise? Really, it was just a warm-up for the radical thinking show about aging. It helped bring the creative and intellectual barriers down. Soon, our three guests began to bounce ideas of each other about aging – the stereotypes and prejudices, the gulf that exists between generation, and the ways we might overcome them.

Janet suggested playgrounds for adults and old people, and banning cars from cities for three days of the week so that older people could cycle or tricycle in safety around town.

Paul spoke passionately about his own approach to old age – his continuing appetite for adventure and personal growth, for satisfying work and projects to contribute to.

Both they and Darren – who would burst in politely every now and again – agreed that perceptions of age and health were simplistic and not necessarily useful. A fit and active man in his seventies like Paul might have fewer health problems, and be more valuable to the economy, than those of a younger, unhealthier generation.

Ironically, since we had come to discuss the idea of aging, it seems that one of the big problems with it is the fact that it looms large in our minds as an “issue” at all.

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