As a gay man of 23 I have lived my formative years in a completely different world to anyone over the age of 60, but particularly anyone who’s gay. When I was 10 years old Tony Blair came to power along with changing public attitudes to gay people and gay rights. When I started to tell people I didn’t fancy girls at the age of 14 I did it in the subconscious knowledge that that was ok, and the majority of people weren’t going to think that that was sick or wrong. Since then, the internet has opened up online dating and networking for gay men living in small communities, or for people who didn’t know where to start, and there are mobile phones with apps which show you the nearest gay person registered to the same mobile application. A gay man is no longer assumed to be a mincing queen and is allowed to be as complex as anyone else. As a confused 14 year old, you can now turn on the TV and see gay men in rugby, national politics and Olympic swimming, as well as in fashion, music and theatre. You can buy gay-themed feature films, or stumble across a gay storyline in a soap. Of course there is still some way to go, especially when you look at bullying in schools and the relaxed derogatory use of ‘gay’; but without a doubt being gay is easier now than it ever has been. Continue reading
Yesterday I went to see Steve Webb, the new pensions minister, speak at a debate sponsored by the International Longevity Centre (ILC). With some trepidation, because I find pensions terrifying. I know I don’t have enough of one, and I don’t understand them.
The debate was quite consoling, because it was clear, firstly, that pensions are really difficult to understand (it’s not just me) and secondly, that Steve Webb, despite only having been in the job a month, is one of a small minority of people who does understand them. He previously worked at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, specialising in pensions.
Before we sat down, I spoke to a pensions adviser who told me that the state pension was ‘in the international third division’ and private pensions no longer provided enough to live on. Essentially, we are all doomed. Continue reading
Wading through the new Office for Budget Responsibility’s analysis of the state of the British economy, it’s obvious that the ageing population will be a significant factor when it comes to restoring growth (or not). The pre-budget forecast highlights real dangers of a slowdown caused by fewer people working and higher demands on pensions and health and social care. But ageing remains a variable factor in the recovery – because much will depend on how long older people continue to work and consume, on whether extended life is healthy or beset by chronic illness, and on the role that will be played by immigrants. Continue reading
The Turner Prize shortlist has been announced, to the usual accompanying grumbles. Which is only to be expected; the prize was devised to get people talking about contemporary art and it would hardly be doing its job if it didn’t provoke controversy and complaint.
Some of this year’s griping has had a rather odd flavour, though. Where in the past the nominees have often been dismissed as too brash and scary and silly, there’s a sense that, this year’s artists, frankly, are all getting on a bit. All four are in their forties and one of them, alarmingly, is 49, which is as old as you can be and still be considered. ‘It’s odd that a bunch of quadrenarians should make up the entirety of the shortlist,’ writes Will Gompertz, the BBC’s arts editor. ‘What new development is any of this lot heralding?’