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hormone receptor called ‘daf-2’ (sic) results in a longer life for a very small worm. The same pattern was seen in a small population of Ashkenazi Jews living in New York – the longer lived in this population also had a slightly damaged ‘daf-2’ receptor. Work has started towards developing a drug which will only slightly damage this receptor or

Top of St Paul’s Basilica in Rome

Italian irrigation system for aubergines. Photo credit: Charles Gillams

little unmarked chapel is a set of stairs purportedly from Pilate’s palace, down which Christ would have come, carrying the cross. We saw pilgrims from all over the world climbing it on their knees, with reverence, speaking His prayer in many tongues. I sat down rather heavily on a

bench. The Roman ruins were wonderful. The forum was better labelled than I had found it to be 30 years ago, when I had last visited this city. The intervening years had taken their toll on me – I was tired. Growing old? I do not like the sound of it. I would rather grow small aubergines. Runnels of water to irrigate them would be ideal, Italian style, of course. I must ask Ken and Janie (Barbican based architects, as some readers will know) to see if such a folly can be arranged. Postponing the inevitable? Maybe. My aspirations for prolonged

Suspicious-looking cat. Photo credit : Charles Gillams

youthfulness were answered, I found on my return, in 2011 in Edinburgh. A brief talk from an American woman called Kenyon brought hope for those of us who are over 50. Biologists have found that a slight damage to a

such things would not be known about by anyone outside that particular laboratory. So much has changed, and

improved, and it has been very demanding for our generation. What has persisted is a shared value: that learning and faith remain the twin pillars on which individual personal growth rests. The queen has grown older rather gracefully I think. What would I ask for Her Majesty?

Let the Queen and her descendants remain defenders of the faith, which will give her good reason to pray for (and with) all of us, publicly, at least once a year. She does not ask that I should convert – that is sufficient. Let us all quietly develop a sense of ourselves, whatever our beliefs, so that


Eurocrat sent in, but the small, day to day acts of kindness remain intact. On the morning of our departure,

Charlie took his son to see the Baths of Caracalla – one delighted boy stepped on to the aeroplane, full of where he had read about them first. We got home and found that the geraniums were in full bloom on our little balcony. We were all looking forward to the Summer Term and sunshine - what a summer of celebrations it is going to be! The recent Barbican Association meeting brought us a reminder of our visit to Keats’ grave – the City Corporation’s undertakings on some matter were reported to be merely ‘words writ on water’ – the poet’s chosen epitaph.

another like it, in humans, so that our days of youthfulness may be increased. A ‘keep you young longer’ pill may be on its way…. I thanked the internet for this hopeful intelligence. There was a time, less than a dozen years ago, when

the Queen does not have to stop being what she is, before we feel able to live with the courage of our own convictions. Her faith is important to her - just let it be so. A cat was hiding in a niche -

looking suspicious. We all have moments like that – thank goodness they don’t last. My son was humming the forthcoming jubilee song – in it the ‘Lord of Wisdom’ assures us ‘I am here, I am with you.’ Did the cat hear it? It rained for a few minutes, then

stopped. The cat, judging its moment, leapt down from the ledge and sauntered towards a bowl of food left for it, its reflection gleaming on the stone below. We were in the cemetery, quite close to the weeping angel where every day, food is left for cats by widows from the neighbourhood. Italy may be in the throes of rebellion against having its Prime Minister thrown out and a

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