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If you know when you’re going to die, just take out a big loan


Robert McNeil

Robert McNeil

Robert McNeil

We return this week to my favourite subject. Death. Ha-ha. Sorry, that was my best attempt at an evil laugh. But, please, do not be alarmed.

Actually, I’d like to amend that to read as follows: please, do be alarmed. Yes, death. Terrible business. Even those of you stoically declining to be alarmed must feel at least that death is a trifle irritating.

To be honest, I don’t give much of a hoot myself. To paraphrase Woody Allen, I don’t mind death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

I’d like it to be just a continuation of sleep. Like many people, most mornings I wake up and think: “Oh crap, I’m still alive.” However, now there’s new hope with news that, for £435, we’ll at least be able to tell how long the misery must continue.

A blood test, to be made available to citizens later this year, will tell you how fast you’re ageing — and, therefore, let you estimate your death — by measuring your telomeres.

I’d like to explain to you what telomeres are, but I’m a bit busy just now. Suffice to say, they’re a form of chromosome and, as we all know, chromosome is like the stuff on the bumper of your car.

Researchers believe telomere testing will be widespread within the next five or 10 years. Awesome, as the young persons say. If you find you haven’t got long, you could take out huge loans, knowing you’ll never pay them off and the capitalists can get stuffed.

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Interestingly, or indeed otherwise, research shows meditation can lengthen your telomeres. I have written to the researchers, asking if it works for other parts of the body. No reply yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Funnily enough — no, seriously — other new research shows that only 15% of citizens would like to live for ever, and just 9% would like to live to over 100.

This is odd. We spend half our lives trying various health regimes but, basically, we all want to die, some time at least.

I’m not so sure of this. Sure, I don’t like waking up, but it’s only because the knowledge that we’re going to die puts me on edge. If I were immortal, I’d chill out and might start enjoying life, going to discotheques and so forth.

You have to put your money on being immortal in this life anyway because, in other staggering news this week, Professor Stephen Hawking confirmed there is no afterlife and that Heaven is a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark”.

This is grim news indeed. Although I’ve no brief for monotheistic religion, and would undoubtedly swing for any bearded deity who turned out to be true, I cannot believe my mind or spirit just shuts down when I expire. That’s absurd.

I’d envisaged myself carrying on as some kind of vapour, flitting hither and yon, gorging myself on celestial chips that couldn’t kill me.

But, if the prof has put the kibosh on that, I’ll need to make the best of things here and now. What a drag.

The first thing to do is to polish up my telomeres — maybe add a bit of WD40 — and get them down the testing station.

Then I’m going to take out a huge loan.