Pensioners with attitude!

June 3, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

The ZimmersIn a world obsessed with beauty and youth, here’s a story to cheer us up as we hurtle towards old age. And believe me, having spent the last 6 weeks with an elderly family member ill in hospital and seeing the way the elderly are treated (actually, ignored), this story gives me hope.

Instead of creating the latest fatuous boy/girl/band/idol, a rock band of pensioners called The Zimmers is rocking around the world. The Zimmers consists of 40 senior citizens who are bored with sitting silently in the pink-walled rooms of local old peoples’ homes, waiting for the next serving of bangers and mash. The Zimmers decided to do a cover of The Who’s My Generation (and who wouldn’t!). The band consists of Winnie, 99 years young – a white-haired lady using a walking stick and who revels in Zimmermania, which has seen a media scrum scrambling to interview band members. Lead singer, Alf, is a mere 90 and another member, Buster, is 100 (go Buster!).

Tim Samuels is the creator of this latest pop sensation. As a filmmaker, Samuels started out making a documentary about how the elderly are treated in the UK. If our society was to be judged by how we treat the elderly, we’d be in serious trouble: the elderly are dumped into old age homes; patronised; ignored; marginalised; considered way past their use by date. But I’ve learnt a lot after spending 6 weeks talking to patients in a hospital, where the average age is around 85 years. A lot of senior citizens are spritely, of sound mind, and wanting to be a part of contemporary society, not marginalised from it. My 85 year old uncle, who lives in Portugal, recently drove me into Spain for a day’s round of fast-paced business meetings, lunches, coffees and social chats. We arrived back in Portugal around 8.30pm, having set off at 6.00am. He was ready to go out and party (well, go out for dinner). All I wanted to do was retire for the night!

Anyway, back to The Zimmers: somehow the idea of recording a single came up and Samuels found himself with 40 eager musicians on his hands. For the knowledge management practitioners – The Zimmers have collective expertise totalling 3,000 years.

The producer of U2 decided to help out; the Band Aid video director became involved; and The Zimmer’s version of My Generation was recorded in The Beatles’ Abbey Road studio. You can see 90 year old Alf belt out the song, along with his fellow band members, here on YouTube. The media have been in a frenzy, with one Brazilian interview with the band attracting 40 million viewers. The Zimmers are now planning their assault on America, so watch out. And they’ve made it into Wikipedia and here’s their official website and MySpace page.

We all fear death and the prospect of dying. This has touched me personally over the last few weeks. But The Zimmers give us a different spin on how we can treat the elderly. I hope they go on to make squillions of dollars; build a chain of pensioner resorts; bring out their own clothing and sunglasses range; and help us all feel that growing old is not to be feared and that the elderly have a ton of life left in them – we just need to help bring them back to life and stop ignoring them for fear of seeing our own future. I’ve pinched the poster of The Zimmers from BBC News.


Entry filed under: Good news story.

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