11 March 2006

Age paranoia

A friend voiced his disgust with me recently at reaching 24. OAP age, natch. This cutting raised a throbbing smile as a result.

Supposing ... We abolished the publication of people's ages. By Charlie Brooker, Friday March 10, 2006. The Guardian

Sod everything to heck and back. I just turned 35 and I might as well be
dead. I've left my youth behind. Look, there it goes - waving at me from the
rear-view mirror as I race toward cobwebbed oblivion. I've failed. I'll never
change the world. It's far too late for me.
From this point on, everything I say or think will be musty and downright embarrassing. The government ought to instigate some sort of Logan's Run policy, one that painlessly deletes outmoded eyesores like myself. We're just cluttering up society. I should be smothered in my sleep by a man from the ministry. Then slice up my corpse; toss the scraps to the CD: UK studio audience. Let them eat me. They're young. They could use the protein, which is wasted in my old, rubbish body. I'm exaggerating slightly. But it's hard not to despair at the rapid march of time. Just a few days ago I was classed as an 18-34 - that's the same demographic group as Billie Piper, for Christ's sake. Then I have a birthday, and BANG: overnight, I'm classed in the same bracket as Robert Kilroy-Silk. Suddenly the youngsters are next door having a loud boozy sex party, while I dodder about, slurping lemon cordial and conducting rightwing conversations with a bunch of grey-haired, coughing cadavers. I've aged 1,000 years in my sleep. In other words, I've become obsessed with ageing again. Not the physical process, just the numbers. Each time I read an article about any kind of public figure, I find myself calculating their age at various landmark points in their life, and comparing my achievements with theirs, as though it's a race. I've done this before, back
in my 20s, when I worked in a shop for several years. I remember feeling profoundly washed-up at the age of 24, after discovering that Mary Shelley wrote
Frankenstein at the age of 21. Even though I didn't want to write horror novels
myself, it still depressed me. Now it's 11 years later and I don't want to front
a pop group either, but that doesn't make reading that the Arctic Monkeys have a
combined age of six any easier. How DARE they?
I even compare myself with fictional characters. I recently watched Paul Abbott's State of Play again on DVD and was startled to discover that many of the major characters were younger than I am. They made me feel bad without even existing. I'm not the only one who does this. A friend of mine who is astoundingly successful recently confessed to a brief neurotic interlude during which he compared his achievements unfavourably with those of lightweight TV journalist Paul Heiney.
Now, I'm not saying Paul Heiney doesn't contribute a great deal to society ... I'm just saying that's the brink of madness, right there. Perhaps we should abolish birthdays altogether, or at least stop printing people's ages in the paper.
Maybe we'd stop classifying ourselves in terms of age, and introduce some kind
of points system instead - a bit like the stars on a McDonald's nametag. Let's
see how the members of McFly measure up then, eh? Great. Now I've had a cheap pop at McFly: precisely the sort of thing a moaning old middle-aged arse would do. I'm already conforming to type. Smother me, government. Smother me now.

That is all, you fat bastards.

(P.S Hello France).

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