Living longer despite everything


When I run around London, I often find myself passing the Covid wall and seeing each heart filled with the name of a loved one who has died in the current pandemic.

The Covid memorial wall is perhaps unique. Established by the bereaved themselves, without official permission, it has attracted nothing but praise. People outside London can request a dedication but many want to make the journey themselves.

At the eastern end of the wall is a plaque to the victims of Human BSE and at the western end an even simpler plaque to those who have died prematurely after contracting this virus.

The hearts are already fading and the flowers wilting in the current heat but this wall is more than a token, it directly faces Westminster and is what MPs and peers stare out on from the palace’s terrace. An awesome reminder that in life we are in death.

Living longer despite everything

Every heart tells a story, we measure the impact of this pandemic not just by “excess deaths” but by those we know who are not here. Yet we remain and in the relentless progress towards a longer life, the pandemic is but a ditch.

Thanks to Jim Hennington for this chart that reminds us that wherever you are in your life, your expectancy of continuing to live is improving relentlessly.

Our ability to stay alive is in contrast to our management of the environment in which we live and our thoughts of health now include the context in which we grow old. I will be 89 in 2050, I think about that a lot.

Our health and our planet’s health are perhaps the two great themes of this decade and are likely to dominate my later years. Those who come after us will carry both the legacy of our stewardship and the responsibility of caring for us.

What we can do, and must do right now, is ensure that we do what we can to reduce those burdens on our children , ensuring that they see continued improvements in their life expectancy and the quality of that life.

Despite everything , we are living longer . But the Covid pandemic reminds us that that is not a given.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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