If the past is another country I’ll shortly have sixty stamps in my passport. Is a sixty-year-old elderly, or still middle-aged? Pundits who know about this sort of thing say that sixty is the new fifty, but few people live to be 120. Sitting here with my own hair and teeth in Wetherspoons having a breakfast pint I’m feeling positive.
Am I out of the mid-life crisis tunnel yet? I don’t think I was ever in that mysterious, dark place. Sure, I did things at fifty that I should have done at twenty. I was well-aware that I was attempting to re-live my youth, but I did it properly this time. Not having the adult responsibility of having kids helped. I had no twenty or thirty-year-olds to be embarrassed about me. I wasn’t ridiculed for learning bass and joining a rock covers band with other middle-agers. I wore my leather jeans in rehearsals and turned the amp up to eleven. I made damn sure I enjoyed myself. Fact is, I never had the confidence earlier in my life.
I’ve had “senior moments”. Ten years’ ago I pumped petrol into a diesel car. That cost me a lot of money. I learned my lesson and I haven’t done it since. Five years’ ago I had the police come knocking for me. Apparently I’d filled up at my local Morrison’s and drove off without paying. I refused to believe it at first, but the cop had video footage of the incident. He made me feel a bit better when he said the police do it themselves. I owned up to being middle-aged and absent-minded and paid my debt to society that evening.
The sands are shifting though. Until quite recently, the 1970s was part of the modern era to me. Now, even TV programmes from the early-90s even look old and dated. We all have certain years as memory milestones. I turned ten at the start of 1972, and this is one of the years that stands out to me. I remember it as a great year for music, and the one in which I started collecting vinyl records. My dad tried to steer me towards a Beach Boys single, but this wasn’t very cool for a ten-year-old already flirting with the idea of the counter culture. I chose Telegram Sam by T.Rex and never looked back. I wouldn’t have fully appreciated the subtleties of Brian Wilson’s work at that age, so The Beach Boys could wait another twenty years to grace my collection.
I was presented with an acoustic guitar that Christmas, but I never learnt how to play it. Why I didn’t learn to play an instrument when I was young, I don’t know. I might have found an opening in The Damned further down the line, but I had no sense of urgency. What ten-year-old does? I did it the hard way and ran away to join a band in my early fifties. Well, I didn’t actually run anywhere, I had a mortgage to think about.
My imagination was limited to being part of T.Rex or Slade, but without actually making the effort to learn an instrument. I channelled my vivid imagination, and fierce independence, into flirting with a writing career many years’ later. Too little too late, maybe. I’ve done everything too late. I didn’t go to university until I was thirty-two. I didn’t buy my first biker jacket until fifty-nine. I didn’t regret it though. It might be too late to join T.Rex, but maybe it’s not too late for Status Quo to come knocking?