Oliver Francis

Thoughts from the spaces in between


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Zero to a hundred

Sculpture at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery, Madrid

Sculpture at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery, Madrid

A change from the usual books and films. A spot of real life.

On Friday, my Granny celebrated her 100th Birthday. The family gathered, champagne was drunk, the card arrived from Her Maj. (A card also arrived from the Department of Work and Pensions, signed by Iain Duncan Smith. That lowered the tone a bit. We suspected he might be checking she still needed her pension.)

The day before, a friend gave birth to a baby girl; let’s call her C for the sake of this post. 8lbs of tiny human delivered with care and safety by the NHS.

It’s hard not to reflect on the different worlds that these two people were born into. You could pick any area of life and fill a book with examples. But as longevity is what we were celebrating on Friday, health seems like a good one to look at.

In 1913 there were no antibiotics beyond a few folk remedies. There were vaccines for smallpox, rabies and the plague, but not for diphtheria, whooping-cough, tuberculosis, tetanus, yellow fever, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A&B, flu, pneumoccocus, HIB, meningoccucs, cholera, typhoid, chicken pox, Q fever, rotavirus, HPV. Continue reading