Too Old to be Young?

I’m in my 50’s. Well only just in my 50’s. There was much of my 40’s that didn’t float my boat. Illness, major life change and all that gubbins.

By the time I reached 50, I wished that my fortunes would change. That I was not too old to have some fun and live a little. The problem is partly however perception. The self perception that you are grey haired, lined, less vital. If I looked at potential partners based on their youth and vitality, I would have to show some of my own. And have a well stocked wallet. That’s not to suggest that younger people are driven by financial stability and fitness but it sure helps. The stereotypical mid life crisis where a man goes an buys a sports car and seeks the company of much younger women may exist for some. The need to prove your physical prowess and that you have the energy levels of a much younger man can be the route that some take. I don’t think I could get away with all that. I was never up to much in my twenties. Hardly a triathlon, white water rafting, climber. There’s no point trying to prove otherwise 30 years on. I have been a parent for nearly half of my life. The joys of parenthood do mark you down as older. You have children with friends who only see you as a dad. They tell you about the merits of vinyl over downloads. They listen to Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and The Clash and then steal the love of them away from you. Your children buy you presents becoming of an older person. They look at you and fail to comprehend that you may have once got drunk, been to a gig, got stoned or had sex. the last one is particularly baffling given that your children are the product of the aforementioned activity (and sometimes the product of the others too).

Then there’s the old at heart. These are the folk that reach their 50’s and put the slippers on. They accept that a walk round an art gallery and lunch counts as an exhausting day. The point where going to gigs is vastly improved with a good seat. The point at which putting a tour poster up on your wall is considered not becoming of a man in their 50’s. The need to remind one of how old we are and that we should be taking it easy.

You see that’s my problem. I believe I have an obligation to live. To still do the reckless acts associated with a younger man. I must embarrass my children with my exuberance and behave with abandon. Don’t tell me to grow old. Don’t suggest that settling down is good in any way. Don’t think Saga is an option worth considering. Next thing you’ll be signing up for life insurance and getting your free pen (as sold by a silver haired Michael Parkinson). You will be shopping at Boundary Mills, thinking about cruises as a holiday option and appreciating the benefits of regular health checks. I have parents in their 80’s. Often the only social life one gets by then is in a doctors waiting room so be careful what you wish for.

I know I’m not 25. I’ve been there and it was fun. I am still young enough to misbehave and not too old to dance badly at gigs. Don’t write me off as an old man before I get there. Don’t let me sink into decrepitude because others in their 50’s have embraced it. I am probably just having a moan. As a young fresh faced man, Roger Daltrey uttered the immortal line in My Generation – “Hope I die before I get old”. Given that him and Pete Townsend are in their 70’s and still regularly playing live, they have maybe dispelled the sentiment of that song lyric. I love music. I love the fact that an artist in his 50’s such as Nick Cave can strut with the presence he had when he was 25. Modern music is far more accepting of age than it has ever been. Rock and Roll in the 1950s was a long persons music. The sixties and seventies did little to broaden that view. I would suggest it is only in the last 15 years that music is now multi generational. The age ranges at gigs is often wide. Appreciation of good music is not the privilege of the young any more. We can all rebel against convention regardless of age.

It is the duty of our generation to hold on to rebellion, to frivolity, to exuberance. It is our responsibility  to not become old before we want to be. And if at 85 (if i get there), I misbehave with reckless abandon, don’t shake your head in disapproval. I would much rather be bad than old. So have a tattoo. Go to a festival or two. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old. We have an obligation to look after ourselves, to make sure we are as fit as we can be but that’s where the obligations end.


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