Peter Rhodes on assisted dying, assisted living and the folly of cramming music into decades

While leafing through the Telegraph I came across another reader's letter boasting of his “discipline” in turning bank notes the right way round before paying “so they are presented with the Queen facing the person being paid.” The pandemic may be raging and World War III brewing but it's so important to keep up standards, isn't it?

Justin Welby – the need for assisted living
Justin Welby – the need for assisted living

In the eternal debate on euthanasia, you may wonder what the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, means when he tells the House of Lords: “What we want is assisted living, not assisted dying.”

The answer comes from Dr Leonie Herx, a palliative-care expert in Canada where assisted dying has been legal since 2016. She writes to a national newspaper: “In Canada, citizens have a 'right' to assisted death but not to assisted living... In some parts of the country it's easier to get an assisted death than a wheelchair.”

Ah, but what about those safeguards the mercy-killing lobby promise us? Dr Herx describes how the original strict criteria of “intolerable suffering” by those facing “imminent death” in Canada have been widened to include chronic illness, disability and mental illness.” I bet that would happen here, too, as the goalposts were steadily moved and the lethal injection itself came to be seen as just another NHS treatment. How long before “intolerable suffering” would become “looking a bit peaky”?

The BBC has at least had the decency to use a question mark in its new radio series: “The 80s - Music’s Greatest Decade?” We are told that Dylan Jones will be “exploring the vibrant creativity of the 80s.” Well, good luck with that. But what is this obsession with trying to fit something as fluid as culture and creativity into neat mathematical decades?

What we think of as the Sixties, for instance, didn't really last from 1960-70. The groovy Sixties mood can better be measured from The Beatles' first hit, I Want to Hold Your Hand, in 1964 until the Arab-Israel war of October 1973 and the distinctly un-groovy recession that followed. Check the diary. How many of your favourite “Eighties” hits were actually recorded in the 1970s or 1990s?

Terms for our time. Have you noticed how many politicians or health experts seem unable to answer any question from us, the public, without saying: “That's a very good question”?

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