It was wonderful to read about Paul McCartney’s performance at the iconic Glastonbury Festival. The first Glastonbury festival since Covid needed some big names, but who would have expected to see Paul McCartney who turned 80 just before the festival began as a headline performance? As the write up from none other than the ‘The Guardian’ shows, it was not a token appearance, it was a full on 3 hours show on the iconic pyramid stage.
“Paul McCartney’s history-making Glastonbury set was hailed as one of the greatest headline performances of this generation as a crowd of more than 100,000 people gathered at the festival’s famous Pyramid stage to watch him play. He was joined on stage by Bruce Springsteen and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl – and even sang a duet with his old bandmate John Lennon, using special effects pioneered by the Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.Eyebrows had been raised when it was announced that McCartney, who turned 80 last week, would top the bill, becoming the oldest headliner in Glastonbury’s 52-year history. But any doubts were shredded when McCartney finished a near-three hour set with a dramatic pyrotechnics display and a mass singalong to Let It Be, Hey Jude and Live and Let Die.“It exceeded all expectations” beamed Richard Martin, 75, part of the biggest crowd the Pyramid stage had ever seen. He said: “Although I’m almost his age, I’ve never seen the Beatles – my wife has, she was one of those screaming teenagers – but he just nailed It, he was brilliant. Of course, he’s a pro – he’s been at it for half a century. People behind us were in their 20s and they knew the songs backwards – that’s terrific testimony to the durability of the songs.”
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Almost 4 million people tuned in to watch from home, and drew rave critical reviews.”
What an achievement for 80 years old. It started me thinking about other 80 years old people still in the public eye and preforming at the top of their game. Being of his generation we loved the Beatles music and looked forward to every new release. We still have a copy of the ‘White Album’ amongst our collection of records. Records which now fascinate our grandchildren.
The finance world abounds with young guns trying to make their name but how do they compare with Warren Buffet? At 91 Buffet is still CEO and Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. He is still revered and is one of the most quoted commentators on investment issues but he does not make many pronouncements. He stands aloof from the daily clatter of Wall Street and the incessant TV financial commentary that often has so little content. He is quietly, outstandingly successful.
More in the public eye is that wonderful naturalist, David Attenborough, who at 95 is even older than Warren Buffet. He is still making his presence felt on issues concerning the natural environment, particularly the impact that human activity is having on our planet. He was still making fascinating long documentaries well into his 80s often in the most inhospitable places. Few will forget his encounter with the Great Apes or his fascination with the most minute insects going about their lives. It’s hard to think of a place he has not been or a wild life subject he has not covered. His work will be enjoyed by young and old long after he has gone, and his influence will continue to impact the world on the issue of environmental degradation and climate change.
In the world of the stage and screen there can be few with the longevity of Judy Dench. Just a few years older than me at 88 and born not far from my home town in Yorkshire. She has enjoyed a long and incredibly varied career. She was 23 when she first performed at the Old Vic, that most classic of English theatres. She continued to build a big reputation on the stage, mainly in London with just a few roles in film. At the age of 61 she took on the roll of ‘M’ in a series of 8 James Bond films that exposed her to a much wider and more international audience, and, at 81 she made her last cameo appearance in a Bond film. She is still working and won an Academy Award nomination in 2021 for her role in the film ‘Belfast’. She has many philanthropic interests. She remains an outspoken critic of the movie industries prejudice against older actresses. In 2014 she said:
"I'm tired of being told I'm too old to try something. I should be able to decide for myself if I can't do things and not have someone tell me I'll forget my lines or I'll trip and fall on the set. [...] Age is a number. It's something imposed on you. It drives me absolutely sparewhen people say, 'Are you going to retire? Isn't it time you put your feet up?'
How right she is. If we haven’t earned the right to do is we please when we are 80, when will we achieve it? The interesting thing about all these people is that they are not working because they can’t afford to retire. They are working because they enjoy it. Why retire when you enjoy working?
It’s not hard to imagine what Paul McCartney, Warren Buffet and David Attenborough would say if they were told they are past their used by date.
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