Those of us in advancing years – and the word advancing – seen something of a misnomer – may well be aware of a growing assumption that if you reach the age of 90, you are automatically going to advance to 100. I am myself in the upper quartile of the 80;s – the word “quartile” is a fancy word for “quarter” which has always fascinated me, ever since I was told that I was in the upper quartile of the firm’s salary scale. This had little affect other than creating profound sympathy for those in the other three. My favourite Dictionary, the Oxford Dictionary of English more or less defined it as the fourth part of something that will divide into 4.
In any case, I suspect about a quartile of us – or a quarter – feel that it is almost incumbent on us to go on.
Now the word “incumbent” is an interesting one, for it means the holder of an office, such as the vicar of a parish, or the requirement that such an incumbent will perform certain duties; in other words, it is incumbent on an incumbent to do something. So if you get to 90 it is incumbent on you to go on to 100, and you jolly well have to, even if it kills you.
Incidentally, while searching, I made the acquaintance of the Gua hog, which is a large American edible clam, – an interesting little piece of general knowledge which I find very difficult to introduce into general conversation. If you should find my conversation wandering at any time,it is probably because I am searching for an appropriate opportunity.
Strangely enough, it seems likely that the same problem will affect the speakers in our coming session. The first, Martin Lloyd will be talking about assassins and similar criminal figures,, who I suppose can shut up like a clam, but that’s about as far as it goes.
The second speaker, Mr. Kaufman, deals in birds, so there’s no hope there; and I can’t think there are any clams in Hylands House,which Mr. Wickenden will be describing for us. Terry Rockall will be talking about fingerprints which claims just do not have. Mr. Granville, the last chance on the list, is talking about raising a wreck from the deep, where you might find a clam or two, but probably not an edible American one.
But still, I am sure they will all be interesting, clams or no clams.
And now it is incumbent on me to draw these musings to a close, so I shall close up like a clam. Well, you know.
Ron Silk July 2012