Feeling young at heart giving Ellie a hug

AUTUMN is rushing in and winter is not far behind but there has been a spring in my step lately.

It has been distinctly jauntier since I read that people over 60 – yes, I know I don’t look it in my picture – typically feel 20 years younger than their real age.

Just 14 per cent of people the wrong side of three score years who were questioned in a survey said they feel their actual age, while 79 per cent described themselves as “very” or “fairly” healthy.

In fact, many of them considered themselves to be healthier than the average 18 to 24-year-old. I would not go as far as claiming that but it does give older citizens a bit of hope.

However, as is so often the case, there is a different perspective on this from the other end of the scale with nine out of 10 of young people in the 18 to 24 age bracket who took part in the survey describing themselves as either fairly or very healthy. They also thought that just 54 per cent of the over 60s could accurately describe themselves as healthy.

It’s the sort of statement which could prompt you to reach for a blanket and slippers – or a stronger pair of rose-tinted spectacles.

Health is important but it is not the only thing which makes for a happy life. Another survey has come up with the secrets to a perfect existence – it is five-and-three-quarter hours sleep a night, a 26-minute commute and two hours playing with the kids a day.

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The study asked 4,000 people aged between 18 and 65 to rate their level of happiness on a scale of one to five.

Those who ranked their contentment top marks go on three shopping sprees a month, eat three portions of fruit and veg a day, eat an organic diet and imbibe three-and-a-half alcoholic drinks a week. I fall down on all of those but it takes all kinds to make up this world of ours.

Seven hours 49 minutes is regarded as the optimum time for spending at work with 5.35pm being the best time to arrive home to the welcoming arms of the family. I wonder how many people would love to devote such a short time to earn their daily crust and get back in so early.

One important part of a happy life which the study has completely ignored is hugging. You may recall me telling you a few weeks ago about my childhood companion Ellie the elephant and his sad demise lying forgotten in a loft.

My dear sister read this sorry saga and was so moved that she flew all the way over from America to replace Ellie (well, she also went for a holiday in Germany and Austria but that was incidental to the real purpose of the trip). The new Ellie is sky blue (rather than deep brown), is much smaller than the original and the trunk is different but he is just as nice to cuddle on a cold dark night.