November 24, 2016 by benmblackman
I’ve always been old before my time, ‘you were born retired’ Mrs B has often said over the years. And it’s true I have always preferred a good old pub for a chat rather than the pumping music of a nightclub.
But the signs of age are creeping up on me even more than usual lately. For a start, I seem to have begun taking a less than healthy interest in house music again, for a 37 year old man who professes to be a pub man. I grew up in the 90’s so acid house, rave music, or more commercial ‘dance’ music was a big part of it. We used to listen to it on the school bus often – poor quality recordings from the PA someone had put on a cassette tape and recopied a hundred times.
I’ve started wearing a coat. To those of you in the south, where I grew up, this goes without saying – you love a good coat – wear them all year round don’t you? But I’ve lived in the north for 19 years now and in Lancashire for 11 of them. Coats are a rarity. This morning when I dropped the Calpol Kid off at school the car told me it was 1 degree outside, I’d had to scrape the ice before setting off, yet the secondary school kids all strolled past in blazers alone. There’s one bloke who lives in our village who wears shorts all year round. I’ve seriously never seen him in trousers.
But I’ve started to feel the cold a bit more and have begun wearing a coat. Worse still, in a car. One of my personal life rules has always been ‘never trust a man who drives in a cap / gloves / coat’. Why would you? Just turn the heating up. But I’ve been taking the edge off (you know when you first get in the car and out again) by wearing mine on journeys.
It’s not stopped there – I have had to start ‘spending a penny’ before leaving any establishment (including my own home) because I worry I’ll be caught short otherwise. I used to go hours, a whole day maybe without the need to visit ‘the facilities’ – these days I’m wee-ing like a grandad before I leave a building and when I get to the next (if I remember that is). I’m 37 – what’s this going to be like when I’m 77?
I used to look at the trainers in TK Max but these days I keep finding myself browsing the leather jackets. Don’t worry, I’ve never been a leather jacket type of geezer – but I’ve started leafing through them, imagining how I might look if I did buy one. Feeling them and imagining.
I often talk about ‘when the internet wasn’t invented’ and ‘before mobile phones’. I pretend they were much better times (actually I think they were) yet I am generally holding my smart phone (24/7 connected baby) as I do. But technology is no longer my thing. I used to be the go to person in my house growing up. You need the video setting for 2 weeks whilst we went on holiday (I was the only one who could). Anything digital – I was your man. I loved dabbling with it all but these days I’ve reached the stage where I just can’t be bothered to learn new tricks. I am an old dog, just roll me over and tickle my tummy but don’t ask me to embrace change for goodness sake.
I, like everyone else, pretend I love change. Of course I don’t. I’m 37 for goodness sake – I’m in my groove right now, I’ve taken 37 years to finally work out what I like and who I am – why would I want to change anything? The Calpol Kid recently wore my running watch for half an hour. In that time she found 3 features I didn’t even know existed and taught me just by fiddling around. One of them was using it as a simple stop watch – something I’d wondered about but couldn’t fathom out over the last 2 years myself.
I don’t want the latest phone, don’t make me update my app’s, everything’s moving too fast. How on earth does SnapChat actually work? Why can’t we just stick with WhatsApp and why hasn’t it got an apostrophe?
On the other hand I’ve reached the zenith of life, a stage my former self, just 5 years ago, would have aimed for, where I have begun to pronounce Waitrose is ‘actually very reasonable if you stick to the own brand’ and ‘the quality really is exceptional, you know’. Who is this man?
All of this was nothing compared to the final straw. Sat in our conservatory (I know) I heard an audible ‘oooh’ come out of my own mouth when I read the headline Fill Her Up – Supermarket to Slash Prices at the Forecourt. I’d like to say it was at that moment I finally ‘had a word with myself’ but I didn’t – I told Mrs B instead. ‘Why are you even talking about this?’ she said.
‘But it’s under a pound’ I went on.
‘Do you remember when it was £1.36 a litre that time though?’
She left the room and, coming to think of it I haven’t seen her again since. It’s fair enough, it’s about time she traded me in for a younger model.