Thursday, 31 January 2013

How old is old?

On a school visit not long ago a boy told me that fifty four is, like, ancient.

 Oh dear. I do hope it was nothing personal...

 Surveys have decided that the beginning of old age is anything from about sixty five and eighty years of age.

 My Neanderthal band in SONG HUNTER has an old lady amongst them. She’s called Pearl, and she’s the grandmother of my heroine Mica. Pearl is nearly blind and her joints are stiff. She’s too old to hunt, though she’s full of life and nobody’s fool.

 How old is Pearl?

 Well, Neanderthals seem to have grown up a little faster than Homo sapiens in Western Europe does nowadays. Neanderthals were more or less full grown by the time they were fifteen.

 That meant that I could have a guess at the age of my old old lady.

 After doing all the arithmetic, it turned out that the ancient Pearl was forty three years old.



  1. I think age depends on the life you lead and how hard it is. The Queen Mother looked young at 90. Others are worn out by forty. That mammoth preparation sure takes it out of you!

  2. That's interesting. And it's to do with health and food, too, isn't it. When you look at old photographs people were so often pinched with cold and hunger. Perhaps this is why old novels make such a point of the bloom of health on a heroine's cheek.