As I have sailed past 39 and a bit, then a bit more. This much I know
Many of my contemporaries are having a combination of mid-life crisis and mentality stasis. This smacks of an admission that you got it wrong In your late teenage/early twenties. Be warned – a middle-aged goattee is only a short step in your Crocs from a male-patterned baldness topped ponytail.
Change in outlook is essential development; physically, emotionally, mentally – every way. If you haven’t changed since the 80s you are actually your family pet.
These contemporaries seem keen to prove they want to party like they did when smoking was an popular indoor pursuit, with people born post-Thatcher. They can, except now they need a week off afterwards and a night on the tiles means an Ibuprofen gel rub.Why this need to hang out with today’s youth, to be independent, be individual? It misses the point, like telling people you are cool or why a joke is funny.
If you think back through the mists of time to youthdom, remember the adults who talked about the 60s or the tragic “mature” student who in week 1 seemed worldy wise and by Week 4 was slightly creepy? That is us at 2 in the morning, feigning interest in the next generation as they BBM, Bump and Virtual each other whilst we look on with aching joints.
I still enjoy many of the same stimuli; but I am the Gold station demographic. If teenagers want to join in they are welcome. I can no longer be bothered being out every night or travelling through the night to Ipswich for a minor cup game. I am glad I have done it and can tick it off to remember at my leisure.
At 20 I had no responsibility. I could be marvellously outraged, avant and selfish. This was my right. I am no longer the centre of my own world and it’s fine because I have walked, danced and talked rubbish through the arrogance and myopia of youth. I care about less things, but I care more deeply and with a sense of realism. Having fun doesn’t age – posting it online does.
I still believe in the beauty of the human spirit and the power to change for better on a personal and global basis (I’ve always been an optimist) but it is tempered with a couple of decades of failure, success, love, heartbreak and the realities of money.
In London I enjoyed walking through the West End at night. Soho, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Chinatown are great places, full of life and human diversity. Vibrant, but I have no desire to be the teenagers I see in excited groups posing, preening, smoking and hoping. Their perfect hair and muffin topless waistbands are great to see. The air crackles with a hundred languages and hustlers shuffle next to big nights and trips that will be remembered and chatted about when these teenagers are Didsbury, Rome and Beijing Dads. It is theirs to grasp.
I now look at this and think of the fun I will have bringing Didsbury Son here and seeing his love of the neon, the comic shops, the smell of Chinatown and the naughtiness of Soho. I look forward to taking him through Soho Square and the warren around it. I can jabber on about working here and he can pay no attention – transfixed by such easy access to Subway and Caffe Nero.
I mentally weigh up the pavements and curbs for a double buggy. Soho, tricky, Piazzas are the new nightclubs when you have babies. I scan the surroundings for potential baby changing facilities and mentally make note of every chemist. It’s a new world for me and in its own way as enticing as the old one – just different.
Age and not worrying about everybody’s opinion brings a sense of freedom. I can genuinely have a night on my own terms. I don’t have the peer pressure, fear of ridicule and worrying if my winklepickers are sharp enough. I already know what my peers think, understand my own ridiculousness and wear insoles for my back- that’s what winklepickers will do for you. I strolled, stopped for a drink and a fleeting friendly conversation with a stranger without swapping Facebook or twitter likes. Then I mooched back to my hotel cell happy.
As an after thought; s Starbucks’ desire to write your name on your cup and hail you like a friend the most unintentionally entertaining retail department since “Suits You” on The FastShow? I have had more fun spelling Didsbury Son’s Pokemon characters in excruciating detail to the Stepfordly cheerful staff who can text 100 words a minute but cannot write Snorlax or Monferno without sitting down for a rest. It is not big, not clever and it certainly does not befit a Didsbury Dad – but it is fun.