In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway bet ten dollars that he could write a complete story in just six words. He won the bet with : 'For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.'
Inspired by this,'Smith', an American online magazine, asked its readers to sum their lives in 6 words and have published the best contributions in a book called 'Not Quite What I Was Planning'.
The B.B.C. Today Programme invited its listeners to do the same. Here are those reflecting on the 'run up to' and achievement of old age and they are mostly rather sad. My favourite is :
Age crept up and mugged me.
Foetus, son, brother, husband, father,vegetable.
Conceived,implored, employed, adored, retired, ignored.
Beginning, gurgly. Middle, sombre. End, gurgly.
Slow lane. Fast lane. Hard shoulder.
Womb, Play, Learn, Work, Decline, Tomb.
Start - programme - error - control - alt. - delete.
Outside lavatory, worked hard, now flush.
Started, farted, stood up, faced the wind.
Wrong era ,Wrong Class, Wrong Gender.
Wasted my whole life getting comfortable.
I'm just happy to be here!
Born London, lived elsewhere, died inside.
Lived, loved, laughed liberally and left.
Born, bred.Work, wed.Dad, dead.
Happy days, sad days, empty days.
Saw, heard, learnt, loved, mourned, dying.
Blankets, books, bottles, books, blankets.
It goes without saying that, my own six pennyworth would be : Britain, no country for old men.