Friday, 9 December 2016


One of the more common phrases I’ve started using in the past few years is “You’re a child”

I am not talking to children when I say this, nor am I insulting the person to whom I am speaking; it is all to do with relativity, i.e. our relative ages.

My oldest friends are all around my age or older. The rest are mostly younger. At work recently, one lad was beating himself up about his age and younger colleagues, sensing blood in the water, did their best to pour flames on his despair.

As I watched this from afar, I found myself starting to feel the inner frustration that only age can bring until finally I had to act.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” I yelled across the office. "When you’re over 50, sure, you can start contemplating what life is like for an older man. But until then, stop whining. You’re still in your thirties; YOU'RE A BLOODY CHILD.”

Laughter erupted and insults were hurled my way about my own age, deflecting attention from this youngster so that he could wallow in self-pity at the prospect of entering his forties.

Part of me would LOVE to be his age again; yet, paradoxically, the other part is absolutely delighted that I am sitting comfortably in my mid-fifties. Now that may sound strange to youngsters (and by that I mean those under fifty), but it’s true.

I have wandered this planet for fifty four years, some of it on my hands and knees, when I was a toddler or inebriated in my twenties, and loved almost all of it. My brain is full of experiences that youngsters today cannot really appreciate. However, despite the jokes, they do actually appreciate it, I think.

Here is an example.

A couple of really young colleagues from work have formed a quiz team at a local pub. My own son is also part of that quiz team. All of them are in their twenties. Until recently, they weren’t doing very well at all. At the end of the quiz, the quiz master usually announces the top three only and they had not featured in that lofty position.

The next day at work, I walked into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and two of them were discussing the previous night’s defeat. One of them went to university with my son, hence the reason my son comes to the quiz too.

“Those questions were really hard,” one of them said. “How are we supposed to know who was a Prime Minister in the 1970’s or who starred in a film in 1956!”

I asked what the questions were and then, to their amazement, answered them.

“You should come to the quiz and join our team,” said one of them.

“Nah,” I replied.

Soon afterwards, I got a text from my son, asking me to be part of the team.

“Come on,” he said. “Show us how much you know!”

Reluctantly I agreed to go and found myself sitting around a table with people who were half my age and younger. On that first week, we finished one point outside the top three – a lofty position for them.

The next week we tied for first place – and I won the tie-break question meaning that we had WON! Our prize was a certificate giving us money off food and drink on our next visit. I have now turned up four times to the quiz and we have won TWICE now, the most recent victory coming on Wednesday of this week. Since I have been part of the team we have a 50% success rate,

They are now almost begging me to turn up every week.

To be fair, it isn’t just me; it is the age range. I have no idea about some of the question being asked, particularly questions about celebrities, pop music of the 2000’s onwards and knowledge about the latest crazes. However, my brain is full of golden knowledge nuggets that I have collected over the years and I am very strong on older stuff.

One thing saddened and amazed me the other week at the quiz. The question was:

“Which comedian released a song called “Funky Moped” in 1975?

I immediately said “Jasper Carrott”.

Now I appreciate that foreign readers may not have heard of him, but he was a very famous comedian from Birmingham from the early 1970’s, probably until the mid to late 1990’s. I’m originally from Walsall, near Birmingham, so I know Jasper Carrott very well and have actually seen him live. He is very funny and his Birmingham accent reminds me of my home town.

Not one of the other members of my quiz team had heard of him.

“WHAT???” I said incredulously. Aware that I might give the answer away, I starting hissing at them like a snake with a frustrated whisper.


“SSSSHHHH!!” they implored. “You’ll give the answer away.”

I didn’t care. I ranted in a silent hissing whisper for about five minutes, almost causing us to miss the next question.

The other teams must have thought that we were impersonating a group of deranged anacondas!

I was appalled, so much so that I have mentioned it to people my age who are equally amazed that the youngsters of today have forgotten or never heard of one of the best British comedians of the past few decades.

To be fair, they have also been amazed that I have never heard of various other modern celebrities, comedians included.

It’s all relative you see.

Never mind, at least between us we stand a great chance of winning on quiz night.

Mind you, that doesn’t stop my own 23 year old son hurling ageist abuse at me. Last week we were in Liverpool, where I went to university. We passed a pub called The Swan Inn that I and fellow rock music lovers had frequented in the early 1980’s because it had great beer and a jukebox that played heavy metal classics.

“Look at that!”  I exclaimed. “I was in there drinking beer and listening to Iron Maiden in my youth.”

“Really,” he said, looking at the sign. “It was founded in 1898. Were you there for the first opening night?”

This is what I have to put up with, dear reader. I don’t really mind. What I do mind, is that Jasper Carrott is lost on the youth of today.

He is still around today so I would like to make sure that my quiz team know who he is. Here he is discussing, coincidentally, growing old in the 1990s.

I hope you can understand his accent.


joeh said...

I'm 70, but I would be useless. I usually end up yelling, "Ooh ooh, that guy, you know weird hair, funny voice, damn, what's hos name, ah eeeeeh! Damn.

River said...

Accent? i had no trouble, he sounds like many people out here. I have to say though, the way he was counting down his days, he might just as well lay down and get buried now.
Three score years and ten? How many hundreds of people live way past that?
I agree with you going to the Quiz Nights though, a mix of ages in a team is always a bonus, because someone, at least one someone, is bound to know the answers.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

I suffer from that too - but I put in a request to my ageing brain and then, later (much later) I suddenly yell out the name having finally remembered it.

This is one thing that pisses me off about growing old.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Well Jasper Carrott is now 71 and has surpassed the three score years and ten. And he's just done a tour recently too so is still going.