In The Devil’s Cup Stewart Lee Allen quotes historian F.H. Haines, “Coffee houses like Lloyds provided a place where ideas were developed as they would never have been in the private guildhalls and brain muddled tap rooms.” While most of continental Europe still believed coffee dried up one’s brain cells, London was the cafe capital of the world. This was about 1680. Read a review of The Devil’s Cup by “flimbag” at

Over copious cups of coffee in coffee houses recently I’ve been posing friends and colleagues (my co-conspirators) the question “what would bring about significant changes in the the way we think about older age?” To kick things off here’s my first conspiracy thought.

Photo by Lecercle

Photo by Lecercle - Here under the high whirling ceiling fans and in the environs of these fading mildew covered brown walls sit tragic young writers, Marxists, philosophers, students, economists and now IT workers with puff-pastry egos; the air was thick with philosophical rantings as dense as the number on their glasses . More than any other coffeehouse, perhaps, the Kolkata's Coffee House exemplified the the Antelle attitude, a monument to the glory of Calcutta and its uplifting elixir, caffeine and the rich conversation it spewed.

 We need to change radically the way public services engage and work with older people. This is because the growing population of older people is creating powerful economic, social and political pressures and services are too often out of step with the aspirations and expectations of today’s – let alone tomorrow’s – older citizens.

• By 2030 nearly half the population of Western Europe will be over 50 and life expectancy at age of 50 will be into the nineties.

Government and most Local Authorities and Public Services still focus almost exclusively on the 15% of older people who use intensive health and social care services, at the expense of the remaining 85%. As a result older age is seen predominantly through the narrow lenses of health and social care delivery.

We would begin to view later life, the lives of older people radically differently if the lead for this were not in Adult Social Care. What if we simply had People departments rather than separate Children’s Services and Adult Social Care? Rather than reserving talk of vision for our children’s future and doling out palliatives for the problems of older people (or just the 15%). Let’s think, talk and plan for communities for all ages!