Look At It This Way - October 21, 2011

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THERE are positives to be found in every negative. Blackpool apparently has the highest mortality rate for men in England – and only the Scots pip us to the final post for the UK.

Women aren’t much better off in the ailing stakes either.

The town seems to have taken over where “see Naples and die” left off, and we can’t even blame the Camorra for the stranglehold on our economy.

Indeed, it lends a rather poignant significance to those Kiss Me Quick hats of old.

Not much to smile at there, but who wants to live forever?

I’m rapidly going off the idea. My state retirement age is vanishing over a distant horizon with each change of policy by whatever passes for Government today. I swear it does a triumphant Road Runner- like beep beep each time. Having been caught by the change from 60 (five years and counting) to 65 it’s now 66 and I swear it will be 70 before I get a sniff at the winter fuel allowance being snaffled by pensioners wintering abroad.

But will I make it to my last Look At It This Way in 2022 – ranting on about the price hike in shale gas piped into my home by ‘Guadzilla’, or the good old days when we had real artworks and statues in Blackpool and not replicas, or complaining about the price of cockles? What’s it all got to do with the price of fish? Well I tuned into BBC Radio Lancashire the other day to hear a cockler complain that he “only” earned £600 a ton.

That’s £200 less than the same haul would have earned a few years ago. A two-man team can net a ton in about four to five hours. It’s hard slog in difficult, and potentially deadly, conditions but the pickings are so rich they attract around 600 cocklers daily. Very few are local, even though the cockles are. The season ends in April.

But my back is playing up and my days are numbered because I live in Blackpool.

In fact, I’ve never felt worse since I started to follow a healthier lifestyle. I’ve packed in booze Monday to Friday to lose weight and stop reaching for a glass of wine as a ritual of winding down each evening.

I’m losing friends as well as weight, because I’m now sober when they’re drunk and, boy, do they talk rubbish.

I also hear my mother’s heated exchanges with TV soap opera characters oblivious to her presence the other side of the screen.

I get to taste food properly – not always a good thing.

All of which should warm the cockles of my heart, but that’s being checked by the pacemaker clinic today.

Still, it may save me the trouble of having to queue for the Swiss euthanasia clinic when the going gets really tough, although the chocolate’s rather better over there, I hear.