ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

IT ONLY SEEMED LIKE yesterday when 56-year-old retired banker Richard Cullens was sitting in the back of his father’s XC Falcon smoking reefer with his high school sweetheart – listening to Prince, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and George Michael.

But today, those nostalgic memories of a time gone by, before he had a wife, kids, Labrador and Mercedes ML320, are now dead.

When Canadian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist George Michael passed away on Christmas Day, an alarm inside Richard went off, something that had failed to do so when earlier this year, David Bowie, Prince, and Alan Rickman died.

“George was a year younger than me,” said Cullens.

“That’s a real wake-up call. I could honestly drop at any time. Fuck I don’t know what shape I’m in, I could have high levels of bad cholesterol for all I know?”

“This is the first time I’ve actually been confronted with the idea that I’m closer to dying than I think I am. Now I’m afraid I’ve wasted my life because I took the safe option. I wanted to be a midwife.”

“Ali, man. He died too. He was the Greatest”

Richard’s feelings aren’t dissimilar to other members of the baby boomer community, with many Australians aged over 50 now seeing the heroes of their youth begin to drop off.

The impact is profoundly worse if the hero dies of natural causes.

Professor Bennet Paul agrees that dying celebrities are causing anxiety among baby boomers, a generation that’s beginning to see their end of their shelf life.

“People expect these larger than life characters to live forever – and they do. It’s just that, they don’t breathe forever or have a pulse,” she said.

“Dying in your 50 or 60s is like coming fourth or fifth in a running race. Not the worst possible outcome, but by far not the best,”

“The biggest handbrake on life, in my professional opinion, is that people tend to get bogged down and anxious about things that are out of their control. Seriously, don’t do that.”

More to come.



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