Google the phrase ‘Things to do before you’re thirty,’ and all manner of wondrous suggestions cascade like an invitation to dream the impossible – jump from a plane, eat caviar on top of a mountain, grope a woman way out of your league whilst wearing high-performance running shoes etc.
Google the phrase ‘Things to do before you’re forty,’ and the dream has been somewhat curtailed – do a sit-up, try to remain relatively stationary, make up with an enemy (presumably before you feel death’s icy fingers around your embittered heart?)
I resent the idea that I am (we are), at every moment, running out of time to do stuff. I therefore present ten doors that open (rather than close) as you get older:
TEN THINGS TO DO AFTER YOU’RE 40…
1. Go to Topshop and complain about why they no longer sell boot-cut jeans. ‘Yes, I know I should have stopped coming in here ten to fifteen years ago, but what’s with all this skinny crap and court-appearance-suits, and why do you keep glancing down at your phone? How else am I am going to (continue to) look like a Top Gear presenter you little shit?’
2. Go somewhere uber-hip. Know with a certainty that it isn’t you – It’s everyone else. Relax in the surety that you will never ever be hip again (if you ever were). Wear what you like. Resist the urge to beat up metro-sexuals. Lament the decline of masculinity. Revert to northern stereotypes when confronted with pretentiousness, safe in the knowledge that your adversaries will do anything to avoid conflict as their hair will get un-ironically messy: ‘These chips appear to be made of beetroot. Bring me potato before I turn feral.’
3. Gaze in amazement and horror at teenagers who’ve never heard of Gandhi, Thatcher or Hitler (I lived with teachers – this happened).
4. Leave mortgage statements lying around for young people to find (or hen’s teeth / unicorn’s horn). Talk openly about being in the market for a second house (cash buyer obviously).
5. Rejoice in the fact that interest rates really are interesting. Why else would you talk of nothing else?
6. Harness the power of forgetfulness and never worry about anything ever again (or at least forget that you were worried in the first place).
6. Have I already talked about not worrying? Where am I? Why am I still in my pyjamas?
7. Congratulate yourself on not having one of those voices? That goes up like a question? But isn’t? Slavishly take people who do at face value e.g.
‘I went out at the weekend?’
‘Well, I don’t know. You tell me.
‘It was amazing?’
‘Again, only you can be the judge of that.’ etc.
8. Get asked by a bald, diminutive, comb-over-sporting Indian man if you’d like to come with him to Bangalore for ‘Buy-one-get-the-second-half-price- follicle-replacement-surgery.’ Reply: ‘I don’t think you need it. What are you, 46?’
Work with him under increasingly tense circumstances for a further six months.
9. Genuinely remember when all this was fields. Realise that people have started consulting you on how we used to live.
10. Get laughed at for owning Level 42 and Gloria Estefan albums on cassette (plus workable analog devices for playing them on). Smugly know that they’re coming back in fashion any day now…