What is old?

I love ITV 3. There is a constant recycling of detective series without reference to date or sequence or age.

Vera drives a Land Rover that never seems to be replaced and drinks whisky in a manner that must eventually take its toll. Inspector Barnaby may be either of his manifestations, his sergeants may be drawn from a wide selection, and the colossal death toll in Midsomer continues to mount. Law and Order continues to be screened without cognizance of changes that may have affected the Crown Prosecution Service.

If there is a series that is mindful of the passage of time, it is Morse, with its Lewis sequel, and its Endeavour prequel.

Randomly, and without explanation for its scheduling, the very first episode of Endeavour was screened last night. It is the one where the youthful Police Constable Morse arrives for the first time at Cowley Police Station to join Oxford City Police.

The final moment of that episode is the one that is the most memorable. Even the music from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly doesn’t capture the mood of the passage of time as does one second at the end.

Driving Inspector Thursday’s black Jaguar, the young Morse in his Shaun Evans incarnation glances into the rearview mirror. Looking back at him is the Morse whom he becomes, the unmistakeable eyes of John Thaw.

It is a moment of continuity, a moment when past, present and future become one.

Sometimes there are moments when shaving in the morning when I look into the mirror and there is a glimpse of the person I once was. Perhaps life would have been lived more wisely if I had been able to look into the mirror and been able to see the person I would become.

Perhaps what matters is not the appearance, but what one thinks. Perhaps age is not something that can be gauged in a rearview mirror, but is something on the inside.

ITV’s West Country news bulletin yesterday evening carried a story of two ninety year old friends from the Bristol area who must look in the mirror and seem someone very different from the person looking back. The television cameras covered the weeken activities of the duo, one had gone wing walking and the other had taken part in a sky dive.

To contemplate those activities must demand extraordinary physical health for someone who is ninety, but more than that, it must reflect an extraordinary attitude.

To look in the mirror at ninety and still retain an appetite for the extreme would be a delightful way of dealing with the inexorable passage of time.

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