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Apparently, there are some genuine benefits that go along with looking younger than your age:

LONDON – Those baby-faced people now have another reason to be smug: a new Danish study says looking young apparently means a longer life.

Research published online Monday in the British medical journal BMJ suggests that people who look younger than their years also live longer.

In 2001, Danish researchers conducted physical and cognitive tests on more than 1,800 pairs of twins over aged 70, as well as taking photos of their faces. Three groups of people who didn’t know the twins’ real ages guessed how old they were. The researchers then tracked how long the twins survived over 7 years.

The experts found that people who looked younger than their actual age were far more likely to survive, even after they adjusted for other factors like gender and environment. The bigger the difference in perceived age within any twin pair, the more likely it was that the older-looking twin died first.

They also found a possible biological explanation: people who looked younger also tended to have longer telomeres, a key DNA component that is linked to aging. People with shorter telomeres are thought to age faster. In the Danish study, the more fresh-faced people had longer telomeres.

Well, I don’t know much about telomeres.  All I know is that I turn 45 in just over a month and yet I still get carded from time to time whilst restocking the port-swiller cellars.   While I used to resent this, I’m beginning to enjoy it.

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New reader Jim asks of this blog:

[W]here is the title line from, “The Port Stands At Your Elbow.”..literary allusion? A night out with friends?  I am curious.

Oh, I love it when posting material is lobbed into my lap like an errant bit of bread! 

Yes indeed, Jim, there is a literary reference at play here.  Specifically, the line is lifted out of the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brian

I chose the phrase both because of my fondness for British naval history and also as a nod to the ancient British custom of port-drinking and the sociability that goes along with it.  An entry at About.com sums up the idea pretty neatly:

 The most widely known tradition is believed to come from British naval customs for serving the wine. The decanter of port is placed in front of the host who then serves the guest to his right, then passes the decanter to the guest on his left (port-side). The port is then passed to the left all the way back to the host.

If the decanter does not come full circle back to the host, it is impolite to ask for it directly. Instead the host asks the individual closest to the decanter, if he knows the bishop of Norwich or any other village in England. The question is not to provoke a reply but action the immediate passing of the port. Should the unfortunate offender answer the question by saying “No,” is told that “the bishop is an awfully good fellow, but he never passes the port!” sparking, hopefully, the individual to realize he is hogging the decanter.

(O’Brian often has “Lucky” Jack Aubrey take the more direct approach, i.e., the title of this blog, on many occasions, although without looking it up I believe he also uses the above once or twice.  However, based on my faith in O’Brian’s scrupulous attention to detail, I’ve no reason to believe that Jack’s formula is not also authentic.  Besides, it goes well with his Nelson-like “Never mind maneuvers- always go straight at ’em!” mentality.)

Ultimately, though, I borrowed the title because I wanted this blog to be a kind of after-dinner discussion and debate, the sort of thing generated by good friends, good food and perhaps one or two more glasses of the right stuff than strickly necessary, a place where fellowship can accomodate divergence of opinion and lively argument.  In other words, animated but civil.

Whether I’ve achieved that idea is a question I leave to my fellow port-swillers to judge.

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