Tag Archives: ageing

Behind the tombola

A milestone birthday. Today marks 40 years since I was forcefully extracted from inside a screaming 16-year-old girl, for once not behind the tombola at the local fete while ‘close-knit’ villagers bay for vengeance.

Yes, today is the day I fill out the second half of my dirty old man application form. If anyone tries telling you 40 isn’t old, ask them to imagine how they look through the eyes of someone half that age. Youth is the future, as a confused Jeremy Corbyn will soon find out when they euthanise him in favour of some infant in a suit.

I don’t honestly care about 40 because I’ve been old for a decade already. Turning 30 was the point at which I established that ambition was futile, and my hopes and dreams live in the same realm of realism as ducks driving tractors. I’ve no fear of a midlife crisis because 10 years ago I lost my mind so entirely I found myself watching a magpie chase a squirrel round a tree in Uxbridge with no idea how I’d got there. Where’s Uxbridge? Precisely.

Weighing medical advances against prodigious Guinness intake I’m probably a few years over halfway through all this, catastrophe notwithstanding. I guess it’s worth reviewing progress so far to see if the downhill trundle’s worth the bother.

Thanks to goals set at the very lowest level possible, on the face of it this existence seems tolerable. I have friends who occasionally return my calls, a woman who continually saves me from myself and family who live a minimum of 20 miles away as the crow flies. My views are of the left and age isn’t changing that. I am ethically commendable and morally risible.

But is any of it worth it? What matters to me now? Am I who I once was? Christ, for all our sakes let’s hope not.

I don’t understand the world any more, but I’m past the point of caring. Voters flock to strongmen like the 1930s never happened. Britain’s electorate every few months chooses whichever option seems most likely to screw over the greatest number of people, via xenophobia, complete inaction or, next time, Boris Johnson. If Trump aims for North Korea and hits Beijing by mistake, well, humanity’s had a good run. If you can’t laugh at all this at 40, post-hope but pre-dementia, you must have had kids.

Last week I went into a shop at just gone 11pm in search of a bottle of water. Can’t do it mate, tills are closed. It’s just water though, I can just leave the 70p here, take the water and you can ring it through in the morning oh my God did you not hear me the tills are closed. Fear and incomprehension at a refusal to follow every little rule, this is where we’ve let ourselves be led. But the older I get the more I rebel and chuckle at ‘Keep out’ signs. What you think is tinnitus is actually a specific frequency only old people can hear, of the ping fuel makes as it hits the bottom of the metal tanks at the crematorium, so what does any of it matter?

The other day I read they’re once again ‘reinventing the BBC for a new generation’. In three years, it says here, £31.4m will be spent online, on content that will include video, live online programme extensions, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps. If any words sum up a world speeding off into the distance while I hobble behind, waving my stick in the air vainly, those are they. There’s always a new generation. I don’t remember which one was mine.

You can tell I’m already properly old because social media makes no fucking sense to me. I love that you all think Facebook is benign, and that they don’t make money every time someone posts a Jihadi screed or a grainy photo of a baby and, wait, is that a cock? Office jobs mean I’m surrounded by dickheads forever shovelling their worthless views into me, so the need for Twitter remains a mystery. Someone reading this once put a picture of their Weetabix on Instagram and they simply can not explain why they did that.

But that’s just it – I don’t really understand any of you. Come on, let’s work this out together, you and I. What the fuck are you on about, really? There, you understand my problem when you see it from my angle.

My body fucking hurts at 40. I sit on a wallet and my back’s ruined. My calf muscles have the durability of a bag of Chipsticks. I have the digestive system of a man yet to make the switch to ‘shawarma’. My brain’s hardly in tip-top shape, and the next person to suggest ‘talking’ as a solution will get my invective right up the amygdala. On the plus side my liver will probably be worth a few quid one day and you won’t even need the formaldehyde.

I don’t have any kind of career, just a succession of tedious jobs that pay too much for me to stop. Some people get paid to search rivers for bodies, others to give terminally ill children happy experiences before they die. I ‘write micro-copy’. Oh well. Shame I can never seem to make any of this shite a bit more micro, eh?

Clearly my 40-year-old self has become one grumpy motherfucker. No doubt, to some extent it’s a carefully crafted persona masking untold insecurities. On the other hand every single thing that ever happens in the world seems geared towards making its inhabitants more and more furious, not least the progress of time itself, which this morning has filled my life with “Inside every 40 year old lingers an 18 year old thinking…BLIMEY! WHAT HAPPENED?” And a ferret in a flat cap, naturally.

Still, I’m sure I can be a right pain in the hoop but at least I aim for ‘not boring’. Recently I’ve realised this might now be my sole ambition for the hours or decades left to me – to remain someone who keeps people on their toes. Odds are you will not have the conversation you expect with me. Yes I might say something inappropriate, but there’s a 50/50 chance it’ll make you shoot lager out your nose and the other 50 is where you file ISAs, decking, parents’ evenings, objectives, travelcards, stakeholders, Dyson, IBS and the gym. The price of keeping you away from that terrifying mundanity is the occasional Yewtree gag and that moment when you’re not sure if laughing would have you straight up in front of a magistrate.

So this is me at 40, raise a fucking glass. I don’t collect stamps any more, or play table tennis, or climb trees, or give a shit who wears the fireman hat. I watch horror films, comedians and bands, collect countries like stamps, go to the football and the cricket, read incessantly and learn whenever I can, walk and walk the streets of London, play games, somehow still play squash, keep pubs in business and write this shit. I work when I have to and I’m happy when I don’t. I’m often wrong but I know when to admit it. I am not who I was and I am who I made myself.

And if you don’t like it…heh, yeah, you’ve got it.

Under threat of castration

Against the odds, the better judgement of society and the collective will of my financial captors, I’ve survived another birthday.

The main event itself proved to be a rather hellish, godless experience in which I came to realise how far behind in the great race of life I’ve wilfully fallen. For my 24th birthday I acquired the body of a malnourished teenager with the face of Dorian Gray’s portrait glued on to the top bit that scientists refer to as the head. My facial hair is scoffed at by unnaturally haughty unborn foetuses as they stroke their mutton chops and eat out of tubes.

Meanwhile the sole of my shoe flaps in the wind, I’ve had to put crucifixes on the door to keep the bank at bay and then plaster Nun-porn all over the front door to ward off the Christian sales reps. The majority of household pets eat better than I do and my job is as stimulating as a mild static shock to a phantom limb. This has been my shambolic attempt at ageing and it feels as though the world has been trying to kill me for 24 years, yet I’m still trying to bite the invisible hand that feeds.

This same invisible hand reaches up your sphincter and ass-hooks you out of bed in the morning. It’s the invisible hand that sits you down and coerces you into forcing out a shit at a time when you’d rather be unconscious and horizontal. It’s this same invisible hand that dresses you like a well-groomed performing guppy each day, before the cage comes down for another round of gainful employment.

When you’re younger this hand has less influence and is easier to resist, thanks to that voracious appetite for life that later seems reserved for puppies and charity muggers. That energetic passion that seems to dwell in tiny humans before they establish how futile their life will become is what allowed us to stray the path and escape the clutches of the invisible hand. The hand wants you to go to school and wash after every visit to the little boys’ room, but the hand’s desires are overcome by the single-minded determination to scoop the mushy stool from the toilet bowl and hurl it at girls (who are decidedly yucky) and teachers (who are mere pawns for the hand) in an event that will later see you dubbed a coprophiliac by a state-appointed psychologist.

But as the elastin and collagen starts to sag and decay under the weight of our accumulated years, the hand becomes more potent, more ruthless and exponentially more domineering. In many ways life is like a very glitchy video game, with the first 10 to 14 years being the equivalent of the crap tutorial level where everything is spoon-fed to you to avoid premature expiration or a home visit from social services. Years later the hand decides to abort you from the comfortable womb of higher education, you’re flushed out into the sewage of the real world and all that was pure, beautiful and true in life suddenly reveals itself to have been a fleeting wet dream, but instead of a sticky wad of gunk in your bed sheets, it’s a crippling anchor of debt, a total loss of purpose and the promise of unending drudgery that you wake up to.

It is here at your most educated and vulnerable that the hand grabs you by the scrotum and pulls you this way and that until, under threat of castration, you hop aboard the unicycle and play your role in the tired old carnival of life. From this testicular stranglehold it can control your every move; before you know it you’re caring about spreadsheets, working at home in the evenings to get that big presentation just right or laughing at the jokes made by the other inmates in your workplace.

A colleague recently confessed to me that he was only at work for the money. I was baffled because I could think of no other coherent rationale for turning up every day. I don’t spend 10 hours a day inside a colossal phallic obelisk in the middle of a diseased London haggling on the phone with people who say with all sincerity “let’s do brunch” out of a chronic addiction to the company of gutless buffoons. There’s no part of my soul that yearns to be crowned with a plastic microphone headset, nor do key performance indicators induce a Ron Jeremy-worthy erection and there’s not a thing about synergistic management solutions that I even want to understand. This is all the hand’s doing.

The hand stretches out a big dumb smile on my face to mask the crushing despair that settles in every time I’m reminded that Made in Chelsea is produced in a country that possesses nuclear weapons. When you want to stand up on your desk and kick the monitor into the face of the person opposite for being such a callous money-grubbing consumer-whore, or enter into mortal combat with middle management personnel, you don’t – the hand keeps you seated, reminding you of the powerful urge to eat some time this month. It reminds you of the bills, the rent, the need for further employment beyond this particular moment of disgusted fury. And what’s worse, it paints this exercise in restraint as sanity.

Like a general of an army of one, you sit enraged in the cage to which the hand holds the key forever out of reach, and survey the battle; sustained losses on all fronts. The hand pushes you past all those dreams, ambitions and things that you once deemed important in order to further its own twisted goals, which seemingly involve reducing humanity, the world’s deadliest predator, into a collection of cash-worshipping, screen-fed mega-monkeys.

So it goes on beyond the workplace and out into the vast belching, scoffing void of life. Before you know it you’re drooling over an IKEA catalogue, perusing the turtle-neck rack in GAP in a bid to emulate notoriously celebrated child-enslaver Steve Jobs or getting an early night for the sake of a village fete cake stall that you offered to run in aid of a religious charity. The hand will push you down the aisle, will tickle your bum during the procreation that allows the minibus of life to chug on and ultimately lays you to rest atop your queen-size deathbed in your moderately priced home with the southern-facing garden and double garage.

It may occur to you at this point that you’re unsure exactly how you got here or how you ever exerted so little control in your own life, and now too in death. But by then it’ll be too late and your grieving loved ones will be greeted with the stench of shit when your bowels empty as you pass from this world.

The hand wins in the end, no matter how many fingers you think you’re chewing on.

An aching legion of pine box evaders

Logan’s Run, now there’s a movie.

Based on the life expectancy figures that edge ever upwards year after year, most people eventually get old. Some don’t; there will always be a child exploding in an electricity substation after reaching for his battered red Frisbee while the girl who made him go in there shouts “Jimmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”, and we call that ‘Darwinism’.

If you don’t know what that refers to, that means two things: one, you should probably put ‘public information substation danger’ into Youtube and watch how the government used to routinely shit us up over our fish fingers; and two, you’re probably not old enough to need to care about getting old any time soon.

Good for you, because that might also mean you won’t have to turn into a complete arsehole any time soon. Old people, almost universally, are scum, potentially deserving of the millions of volts poor Jimmy received, though in most old people that would probably have the same effect as Berocca does on the rest of us.

I have two examples from today alone. Firstly, obviously, an aching legion of pine box evaders in Clacton-on-Sea have voted in their greying thousands for UKIP to win their first MP. For weeks they have been on TV news moaning about anyone they’ve not known for decades as regular patrons of the local butcher. Foreigners eat dog and that’s reason enough alone to vote UKIP, to protect JM Morley & Sons and ensure I get my pound of liver every fortnight without having to visit a supermarket filled with brown people. Old people eat liver by the way, another black mark.

The other example comes from Estonia where, in a rare good news story in the time of Ebola, ISIS and, well, UKIP, MPs have narrowly voted in favour of legalising gay marriage. The vote was 40 to 38 in favour and the massed ranks of decrepit Estonians were predictably furious at the result, having corralled their motorized pavement-clearing death machines into Talinn’s main square to protest against this affront to decency. Honestly, my dear old ageing army of Estonia, I’d say you’re overestimating your personal appeal if you think that law will affect you in any way.

Why do old people have to be so scared and angry about things the rest of see as basic human decency and equality? There’s a natural tendency for old age to bring on a creeping move to the right wing of politics but, though it’s generally accepted as fact, does anyone know why? They’re getting nearer the grave, many of them believe in some form of afterlife, so should their last act on Earth really be to act the total fucking bastard to minorities and anyone they’ve not known all their lives?

I know an old guy in my neighbourhood; I once helped him out with a website of his and now I’m stuck with him. He’s in his 70s and has loads of extraordinary stories about his countless jobs and japes, and though half of them are no doubt balderdash he’s still quite entertaining. He also thinks HIV/AIDS is a disease the ‘organism’ that is the Earth created to wipe out homosexuality. He fully believes in the death penalty as a way to reduce the prison population. He’s also a UKIP activist though I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

My grandfather, who I love dearly, has professed clearly racist views in the past and I do everything I can to ensure the conversation goes nowhere near any vaguely related subject. My 72-year-old stepfather is worse. I have a mate who absolutely idolises his ageing father and who I heard use the words ‘fucking poofs’ the other day, fully imitating his wonderful old man, completely without sarcasm.

There is the odd ray of light. I read about an old gent at Labour’s recent party conference who made an impassioned speech in favour of workers’ and human rights. My chest swelled with pride, and by all accounts he brought the auditorium close to tears. My pride and their tears were a direct result of the astonished delight that we’d found an old man who wasn’t a bigot railing against any form of change and the way ‘naive’ people below the age of 70 are ruining things for everyone.

The obvious assumption is that old people look back on their lives, realise they’ve wasted a huge majority of their time in jobs that amounted to bugger all, and set about raging at the injustice of it all. But why exactly they home in on ‘progress’ as the cause of their unspeakable futility is anyone’s guess. Can they honestly believe that the world would be a better place if they’d been allowed to live like the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, eventually to be carried away on a cart of corpses while pleading “I feel happy! I feel happy!”?

That’s where we’d be without progress – the past. In almost every single example anyone could ever provide, the past wasn’t a better place. Progress is good. Death is inevitable so, please, take my advice: when you feel the first stirrings of old age tugging at your mind with the words “But why does everything always have to change?”, accept that your time is up.

You’re no longer relevant to public life in any way, but that’s fine, because we’ll look after you. We’ll reform health and social care so you’re cared for properly and with dignity. You can laugh out your final years with your friends and family, protected from frightening current events. And the rest of humanity can get on with the business of tolerance and fairness without you beating us about the brains with your bitterness.

A thong and a ski mask

‘Look at what my partner heaved out of her vagina. I put all the photos up. LOOK. This one it kinda looks like its flipping you the bird hahaha. And in this one you can see he has Daphne’s nose. LOOK. Isn’t he cute! Let me upload MORE pictures of…’

Fuck off, and fuck your fucking children.

Oh, Facebook. I suppose it was the progression we should’ve expected. When Zuckerberg penned the idea for an online directory of local college flange he couldn’t have imagined it would turn into the whole world’s psychologist. I can just about stomach some of the Cantona-esque cryptic cries for attention, the conspiracy theorists who call for bans on anything edible that contains vitamins L through to Z, the brainlessly named ‘facerape’ about some hopelessly unoriginal homoerotic activity somebody has been dying to get of their chest and the weekly photos of some oik having his latest ‘best time ever’.

But babies? No.

As the actual age of the Facebook narcissist slowly rises, it appears the mental age slowly melts out of their ears as they discover what happens when ‘man put pee pee in woo woo’. And seeing as their entire life up to his point has been telling people (who don’t give a fuck about anyone) about themselves (who don’t give a fuck about anyone) the natural progression is to have a child and then tell all of those people who don’t give a fuck about anyone that you have spawned another little shit that no one can give a fuck about. And when they grow up, won’t give a fuck about you.

But that’s not good enough.

Because once someone becomes a parent they become very protective of their child. They wouldn’t want any harm to come to them, and they say it proudly. With all these paedos around you can’t be too careful. So let me just upload this little human being’s life from the age of ‘cunt-warm’ to ‘staggering like a drunk’ and hope no twisted uncle is beating himself off to it wearing a thong and a ski mask.

Hopefully as a parent you can recognise that he/she is a proper child that requires attention as opposed to an artfully tinted Instagram photo, and refrain from putting more images online for the Nonceville wank bank.

Maybe because I haven’t experienced the joys of being a father that makes me sound bitter. Perhaps. But much like childrearing, I have also never taken a selfie and god knows that would be a fucking treat compared to some of the hideous duck faces pouting about online like the race of the constantly constipated. I still, however, won’t be doing that.

Over the last few years I have slowly slimmed my online ‘friends’ collection down to under 100. These at present contain no baby peddlers, no UKIP chimps, no fuckwits ‘jus chillaxing’ or ‘rolling with my bitches’ in club toilets (because that’s where the party starts).

And how much better my ‘online’ life seems for it. Once in a while a scan photo might slip through, in which case you have a nine-month probation period to prove you are not so excited by your offspring that you feel the need to show everyone, like a child who has shit in his own hand and is so amazed and delighted he offers it to mummy.

Having said all this, I have been left with a barren wasteland of a news feed, consisting mainly of factual statements, the occupy movement, NFL news and betting adverts. It’s all very boring. I need to get out and play a bit of football maybe.

Has anyone got a kid I can borrow?

Get your arse checked or you could die

As I get older it’s finally dawning on me that my body isn’t what it was a few years ago. Sure I’m only in my mid thirties but sometimes I may as well be a fucking octogenarian given the shocking way my body (just about) works. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but in general I am not the person that I used to be and it is starting to piss me right off.

So what, you may ask, has caused me such distress over the past couple of weeks? The fact that my hearing has been reduced to the level of some old codger who has to use an ear trumpet to hear anything. The cause? A plug of wax the size of a football lodged in my tube.

Could I move the bastard thing? Could I hell. Believe me I tried absolutely everything; cotton buds, baby wipes (don’t ask), bog roll, even shaping my finger and thumb into a sort of plunger didn’t fucking work.

I have to make an appointment to see the ear irrigation specialist at my doctors. After a week of getting the wife to squirt fucking olive oil into my ear (aren’t ears for hearing, not drizzling bloody salad oil into?) to apparently “loosen” the plug, off to the surgery I trot.

After a few minutes staring at such joy-inspiring leaflets as “Get your arse checked or you could die” and “If your balls are lumpy you could die” the ‘specialist’ appears and beckons me in.

After taking a seat she nicely explains to me that “this procedure could perforate your ear-drum and/or cause you permanent hearing damage”. Nice. I’m then handed something which looks like some kind of futuristic piss pot, that I am instructed to hold under my ear to stop her getting wet. Then she goes crazy squirting my ear with what feels like the force of about 15,000 pressure washers whilst giving me a commentary on the amount of fucking shit that is coming out of my ear. Thanks for that.

Anyway, long story short I never had problems with mutant earwax as a child or even up until my thirties, but all of a sudden as I approach forty it seems that I develop enough of the stuff to keep a candle factory in business indefinitely.

If this is one of the signs of old age creeping up on me it can just fuck off and do one!