Now retired, I’m able to sample the delights of afternoon television, and what a feast for the eyes.
Take one random Friday afternoon’s fare from the BBC, consisting of four quiz shows and a diet for avarice: Bargain Hunt; Money for Nothing; Antique Road Trip; Street Auction; and Coast and Country Auctions. Clearly, all designed to show my fellow Baby Boomers the value of their tat or alternatively an attempt to stave off dementia.
The most successful of these formats is Escape to the Country, shown every afternoon, with one satellite station showing almost wall-to-wall repeats of the programme.
This is hardly surprising, for apart from watching the goggle box, the oldies other preoccupation is considering leaving The Smoke.
While the population of England as a whole is ageing (primarily brought about by better health care), recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that London has become a turn-off for the over-65s.
At the beginning of Escape to the Country, the featured couple is asked just why they are considering leaving their urban home. Predictably, being screened by Auntie, the pair don’t cite graffiti, litter, the proliferation of fast food outlets, mugging, teenage stabbing, or their new neighbours which hail from a different ethnic or cultural background, it’s always traffic, accompanied by a location shot of a few cars passing their front door.
Well, back to those statistics geeks. For they have found only 11.9 per cent of Londoners are now oldies, a decline of 3 per cent over the last 30 years; in fact, 25-34-year-olds make up 24 per cent of inner London’s population.
A professor from that hot-bed of youthful protest, The London School of Economics, blames high property prices (something the BBC fails to mention featuring couples wanting to cash in their accumulated property wealth), and the Prof. elaborated for we simpletons, asserting that youngsters flood into the capital from around the world. Let’s face it if you want to work and/or get laid there are more opportunities in London than say, Nether Wallop.
Assuming that I’m in possession of a winning Euro Millions ticket (will they be available after Brexit, no one says), what is the right choice for this old codger?
My choice would be a small house near the coast for weekends, while a low-maintenance apartment in the Barbican with easy access (and free travel) to theatres, museums, galleries and the inevitable hospital visit.
So should the nation’s broadcaster start a new afternoon slot featuring those wishing to return, my suggestion, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, would be: ‘When a man is tired of Life, he is also tired of the Countryside’.
Featured image: Cows in a beautiful green field by Fir0002 (CC BY-NC)