WE live in an era of beauty before age. Perhaps it was always thus: same old same old. But ageism is a real and present problem, exacerbated in a media age that exalts youth, and rampant among employers, who for the most part aren’t bright.

I will be surprisingly candid with you and confess that I’m uncomfortable with the word “ageism”. I don’t want to baffle you with science but it takes the perfectly respectable word “age” and adds the evil suffix “ism”, which comes from the Greek ismos, through Latin ismus and French isme (thank you, Wikipedia; you do make me look brainy).

The odd thing is that it’s supposed to agree with the body of the word to which it has attached itself like a flea. Thus “socialism” is practised by people who like parties, and “capitalism” refers to people who live in Edinburgh or London. Ergo “sexism”, for example, should mean you are fond of sex but, of course, means something totally different.

Ageism should be a positive attitude to age but is nothing of the sort. At any rate, I think we’ve suffixed enough from this sort of thing. Like the vast majority of decent ratepayers, I’ve grown tired of isms (which is probably ismism).

Ageism is supposed to be “the final taboo”, but we don’t want it go down the road of sexism and racism, opposition to which was originally a great idea – still is in principle – but has become the preserve of gauleiters oppressing people, in the same way that Stalin followed the original decent Bolsheviks. Always the way: first generation of campaigners – decent; second generation – more the norm and now moving into positions of power; third generation – nutters and oppressors.

Marx rightly said the economy was the motor of change throughout history, but psychology is its constant, repeated through the ages, with today’s PC cadres the successors to witch-hunters and the Spanish Inquisition.

This week, when a report commissioned for SunLife insurance said that one in three Britons was “guilty of ageism”, at first I was outraged and prepared to march somewhere with my executive-style pitchfork from John Lewis’s “Riot” range.

But, when I put on my reading glasses to read the small print, I sighed. The report didn’t refer to discrimination in employment (the only aspect that really matters) but to language. And what does language cause, readers? Correct: offence. Groan.

Who cares about being called a “wrinklie” or being told you’re “good for your age”? The latter is a compliment, for pity’s sake. As for the former, if fatties, baldies and people with Tourette’s can take a joke then, surely, older people can too.

Look at young people with their crap music and peculiar trousers. Is it youngist to say that? Good! Yay! They’ll still get work. Anyone over 50 won’t. No chance. That’s discrimination: real discrimination.

On the back of the SunLife report, the papers wheeled out curvy Carol Vorderman, 58, to say ageism was being stamped out. In language, maybe. But not where it matters – in employment. It’s getting worse.

Ever inclined to hasten the process of anything getting worse, the Tory Government in yonder Westminster is considering raising the pension age to 75, which will condemn many unemployable over-50s to two decades of poverty … before they get the worst pension in western Europe.

Whether you want to age with dignity through work, or to relax and actually enjoy life, our society’s dominant ethos will prevent you from doing so. You say: “This phenomenon is as old as the hills.” Maybe. But the problem is the hills are getting bigger.

OPATHIES are almost as bad as isms for wreaking havoc in the body politic, or certainly in the body. And none more so than homeopathy.

Even as someone whose job description involves reading some of the battier stories in the newspapers, I was stunned by a report about a pharmacist – Ainsworth’s no less, by appointment to Her Majesty, a queen – selling a homeopathic remedy said to contain the essence of the Berlin Wall.

The pills are imbued with a “spiritual force” that would help to “break down walls” between people. I see. Here’s the science: pieces of the Wall are ground down and mixed with lactose before being diluted multiple times until soluble and not a single molecule of Wall remains – but its essence does.

Surely, no one has bought this? It brings to mind that reader’s top tip in leading health magazine, Viz, which suggested recreating a visit to the homeopath by pouring yourself a glass of tap water and throwing 50 quid out the window.

The Murus Berlinnsis pills cost up to £114 for a large bottle, which brings to mind the Viz advert that promised to help people suffering from gullibility – if they sent £4,000 to a PO Box address.

ISION – that’s another word-ending that causes problems (think I’m over-egging this now). And nowhere more so than in television.

I’ll be forthright with you here and confess that I rarely see television, mostly on account of not having a set (though hoping to remedy this soon). But one thing I recall was that, when the excellent system of restricting channel choice to three was replaced with hundreds of cable or satellite channels, the baby of programmes was thrown out with the bathwater of adverts.

Many of these channels were unwatchable, with the same adverts repeated every few minutes. Channel 4 and ITV weren’t as bad, but still intolerable compared to the BBC, with its superior funding on socialist principles.

Now, these capitalist channels are lobbying England-Britain’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport to raise the advertising cap on mainstream television, which is currently seven to 12 minutes an hour, depending on time of day.

In Europe, where everything is generally worse, they’re raising the cap next year to an incredible 20 minutes per hour. The BBC must be rubbing their hands with glee at this development, and will surely give its top executives a well-merited bonus as a reward.