Friday, 11 October 2013

The happy countdown: top ten reasons to be cheerful

Top ten lists: don’t we love them. Journalists know how to get people to look at stuff, and you only need to look at how they permeate lad’s mag and men’s page to get an idea of how effective countdowns are with a male audience.
Where did it all start? Yes, lists are blessedly brief. But did Victorian adolescents sit down outside the blacking factory to jot down a run-down of the best ever paddle steamers? I’ve looked through a fair number of Edwardian magazines, and though there are plenty of articles listing heroes of the Albert Medal and interesting things to do with a tiger pelt, there are precious few numbered lists.
My theory is that men’s current appetite is borne of an era of exciting countdowns in the sixties, seventies and eighties –  the opening credits of Thunderbirds, the start of every space mission, the end of Radio One’s chart show. Countdowns make us expectant.
So, aware that my last post might have sounded a little old and grumpy, I’ve put together my own top ten list, of good things about men’s health. The mere mention of “health” usually brings visions of physical decline and misery, which doesn’t really help anyone. So I’m trying to reclaim the high ground of positivity here.
  1. Men’s death rates are down. Between 1980 and 2010, mortality rates for men declined by 39 per cent.
  2. Male mortality is declining quicker than women’s (not that we’re happy about the women situation)
  3. Life expectancy is up. Over the past 50 years, male life expectancy has increased by 10 years (compared to eight for a woman).
  4. Men get happier. There’s evidence that overall happiness in men increases over the age of 30. 
Okay, I lied. I couldn’t manage ten (suggestions gratefully received). And there are lots of bad things happening too. But there are reasons to be cheerful about being a bloke, and on average we aren’t doing so bad when it comes to looking after ourselves.