Age. There's no getting away from it in the end

Jo Francis
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A recent family event of the nuptial variety meant that I spent a few days chaperoning a clutch of 80-something year-old relatives.

By the end of the weekend I needed a very large drink followed by a lie down in a dark room. The 80-somethings were, variously and collectively: forgetful, prone to falling over, hard of hearing, disconcertingly random, vague, overly-worried about seemingly inconsequential things... the list goes on.

I know the aforementioned foibles and failings are not the preserve of the elderly. I possess quite a few of them myself. The old folk were also hugely entertaining at times, kind and enormously wise.

A very famous old man has been all over the news for the past fortnight. Rupert Murdoch (80) no doubt has access to the very best anti-ageing treatments money can buy. He could probably bathe in Cr?me de la Mer every day of the week should he choose to. But all the personal trainers, top-notch healthcare and high-potency vitamin injections in the behind - even the rejuvenating effects of a lovely young wife - cannot halt the inevitable decline that comes with age.

At times during yesterday's Commons hearing he came across as a very old man indeed, and hardly the fearsome media titan of legend. Some people are of the opinion that this was a deliberate ploy, but if that was the case it looks like a mistake as it's hardly going to play well with News Corp's shareholders over in the States.

The News of the World debacle has thrown a spotlight on family versus shareholder tensions at the top of a giant media corporation that - up until now - has successfully walked a tricky line between family business and quoted corporation. If Murdochs senior and junior both manage to survive this, it will be a feat of cat-like longevity.

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