Eavesdropping is a thoroughly worthwhile past-time--I commend it to you. Try listening to the people across the aisle on the train. Drop your napkin or spoon on the floor the next time you are in a coffee shop so you can lean over and have a good listen to your neighbours. Take out your iPod earphones every now and again and listen to the conversation at the bus stop whilst you pretend to study the timetable.
Earlier this week, while I was waiting for the number 23, a lady from nearby sheltered housing met an acquaintance at the bus stop and excitedly filled him in on the latest news. It appeared that a couple who had recently rented a flat in the building, had done a midnight flit earlier in the week. 'Just up and gone,' she said, 'with the dirty dishes still in the sink and not so much as a swill with the Domestos.' However, it was not the slovenly housekeeping of this couple that caused the sensation, or even their sudden disappearance. What made this news particularly scintillating was the fact that this pair were: 'no better than they should be.' At this point voices were lowered. Apparently, these two had no sooner moved into the sheltered housing than they were 'putting it about' in an entirely scandalous fashion--and not just with the singletons. 'They slept with anyone--married or not,' said the woman at the bus stop, pursing her lips so hard her mouth looked like a map of the Nile Delta (I can only assume no one tried to sleep with her...). It sounds as if their enthusiasm and stamina was remarkable--for any age.
Personally, I find the idea of ancient Britons throwing their dentures into a bowl after dinner in a geriatric version of swinging immensely encouraging. A fairly recent article in The Scotsman, headlined - 'Lifestyle key to staying sharp in old age', explained that research carried out by Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities found that though genetic factors have an influence, environmental factors play a much stronger part in how the brain ages. Physical activity was listed as one of the key influences, along with 'occupations'. The article did not specify what occupations, but clearly some of the residents in this particular establishment have their own interpretation.
It would seem William Blake knew what he was talking about when he wrote: 'the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom'.