“I’m done with taking my clothes off,” 48-year-old Greta Scacchi  told the Daily Telegraph UK this week. In a long Sunday profile, Scacchi (seen above in the 1998 The Red Violin) talked about her long career, and bemoaned both those who think of her as a sex object and those who think sex appeal stops after 40.

 

With irony, she notes that the moment she became a mother, aged
32, the assault on her principles was solved. “Nobody ever
asked me to take my clothes off again. It was a relief. I think
it’s quite amusing.”

Scacchi is 48 now, her face heavier but still lovely. She tells the photographer, who is about to take her picture in a high wind on Brighton beach, that the more hair blowing across her face the
better. But she faces the camera honestly and the camera likes her
assurance…

Scacchi thinks she’s at last benefiting from a new complexity in women’s roles. “I just wish there could be a little more movement towards encompassing the older woman.”

Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins, she argues, look like energetic Bohemian girls in real life, “vibrant, passionate, expressive and fun”. But in character they have to conform to the stereotype of the old lady.

Perhaps with an eye to her own future, she says: “I’d like to see a shift, so that actresses with gorgeous fashionable haircuts don’t have to keep the blue-rinse wigs in their cupboards.”

In her forties, Scacchi says she finally realised that acting is not a hobby. “I can’t do without it.”

Thanks for the help – now, please, keep it up: New figures from Great Britain confirm that women can now achieve starting salaries similar to those men get, But by age 40, says the Financial Times, the gap between the two is startling:

The gender pay divide has virtually disappeared among young people just starting work, but it widens considerably as women grow older, according to official figures.

Earnings “are similar when joining the job market, at 18 to 21 years old, but a gender pay gap appears after approximately 10 years,” rising to 7.3 per cent by the time women reach the age of 30 to 39, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The divide is widest in the 40 to 49 age group, with women who work full-time earning 20.3 per cent less than their male counterparts. After that, the gap narrows, but only slightly, for women aged 50 to 59, who earn 18 per cent less than men. By comparison, women in the 22 to 29 age bracket earned only 1 per cent less than their male peers.

According to ONS, the biggest difference was found in male-dominated skilled trades – such as agricultural workers, motor mechanics and electricians – where women earned 25.4 per cent less. Male managers and senior officials also earned 23 per cent more than women.

The smallest pay gap was for professional occupations (3.8 per cent) and sales and customer services (5.9 per cent). The latest figures show that in April last year men were earning, on average, 17.2 per cent more than women.

The Financial Times ends by noting that as the narrowing of the gap has slowed, there are new “demands for further legislation from unions and campaign groups.” Newsmix would hope so, and wonders when pay equity will become part of politicians’ stump speeches on both sides of the pond.

What’s the buzz? Newsmix is agnostic on the bigger
controversy between those who advocate a mellower, stimulant-free
approach to aging with grace and those who insist on behaving like the
Energizer bunny. Two items this week that may cheer the latter camp:

Buzz News, part 1: Numerous studies have shown little or no
value for the herbal supplement gingko biloba, despite anecdotal
reports by people who claim it boosts their energy and ability to
focus. Now, a study in the new Journal of the American Medical
Association Journal suggests that the herb does appear to reduce dementia when it has already started:

PATIENTS:
Mildly to severely demented outpatients with Alzheimer disease or
multi-infarct dementia, without other significant medical conditions.
INTERVENTION: Patients assigned randomly to treatment with EGb (120
mg/d) or placebo. Safety, compliance, and drug dispensation were
monitored every 3 months with complete outcome evaluation at 12, 26,
and 52 weeks. PRIMarY OUTCOME MEASURES: Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment
Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog), Geriatric Evaluation by Relative’s
Rating Instrument (GERRI), and Clinical Global Impression of Change
(CGIC).

RESULTS: From 309 patients included in an intent-to-treat analysis,
202 provided evaluable data for the 52-week end point analysis. In the
intent-to-treat analysis, the EGbgroup had an ADAS-Cog score 1.4 points
better than the placebo group (P=.04) and a GERRI score 0.14 points
better than the placebo group (P=.004). The same patterns were observed
with the evaluable data set in which 27% of patients treated with EGb
achieved at least a 4-point improvement on the ADAS-Cog, compared with
14% taking placebo (P=.005); on the GERRI, 37% were considered improved
with EGb, compared with 23% taking placebo (P=.003). No difference was
seen in the CGIC. Regarding the safety profile of EGb, no significant
differences compared with placebo were observed in the number of
patients reporting adverse events or in the incidence and severity of
these events.

CONCLUSIONS: EGb was safe and appears capable of stabilizing and,
in a substantial number of cases, improving the cognitive performance
and the social functioning of demented patients for 6 months to 1 year.

Buzz News #2:
As for the other substance many of us depend on for our “cognitive
performance and  social functioning,” New York Times writer Jane Brody delivers some good news
about  the much-maligned coffee bean. Contrary to popular belief, she
notes, coffee is neither dehydrating nor particularly connected to high
blood pressure or cancer. And it can even help the brain long-term:

Recent
disease-related findings can only add to coffee’s popularity. A review
of 13 studies found that people who drank caffeinated coffee, but not
decaf, had a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Another review found that compared with noncoffee drinkers, people
who drank four to six cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine,
had a 28 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. This benefit probably
comes from coffee’s antioxidants and chlorogenic acid.

Brody
does caution moderation, and notes sadly that if anything, coffee can
hinder efforts to lose weight. ” In fact, in a study of more than
58,000 health professionals followed for 12 years, both men and women
who increased their caffeine consumption gained more weight than those
who didn’t.”