Age is just a number

Age, as Joan Collins so rightly put it, is just a number that's only relevant when applied to fine wine but talk about our age groups is now so mainstream that it's left me confused.
The recent election we're told was all about the youth vote and how we should all be delighted that they were getting engaged with politics despite the fact that we're told a lot of them were voting for free tuition rather than the greater good of the country. What about my age group, 55 going on 25? Does our vote not count now or is it already taken for granted and 'factored into the equation' of all the main parties? Should I feel disenfranchised or should I be mature and accept my worthless lot?

My very first job was as a petrol attendant; remember the days when it was poured for you and your windshield got a wipe for good measure and all for 70p a gallon or about 14p a litre for the youngsters who I would hate to feel left out of this blog! When I started, my boss and most of the customers thought it was nice and refreshing to see someone so young on the forecourt. Fast forward three years and I joined the Navy aged 19 only to find that in those days, that classed me as a mature recruit! I 'retired' at the age of 26 to marry my Cumbrian sweetheart and started a new life as a fireman. At the age of 32, I was recruited as a Magistrate only to find myself in the youth category again as one of the youngest Magistrates in the Country at the time (not difficult given that most of my colleagues in the early years were on the hip replacement list and lamenting that they couldn't use the birch any more).

I 'retired' early aged 51 to the supplemental bench of magistrates (civil service speak for retired and only to be brought out in times of national crisis) and found myself to be in the youthful category yet again as entry to the supplemental list is normally reserved for those hitting the age of 70.

At the age of 33, I started my own Fine Wine business and found myself at the younger end of what was at the time an old boys network of Claret and Madeira drinkers for whom the new world was still the place to ship convicts off to. Fast forward to today and the world is full of youthful winemakers changing all the rules and even younger wine retailers joyfully promoting Italian style wines from Australia rather than Italian Style wines from Italy. Have you been in Oddbins lately? Most of the staff still have acne, not to mention long hair and, god forbid, youthful beards. It seems I'm once again in the wrong age bracket because it's now all about the youth. On a side note by the way, when did beards come back in? Seriously who likes to kiss a fuzzy face that's hosting more bacteria than your average toilet seat? Maybe it's a grunge thing or did the grunge fad die out without my age group realising it?

When organising festivals in Whitehaven, I would often be told that I should have a youth committee to keep me in touch with what they wanted out of the events but on the one occasion when I posted in the press for younger volunteers to come forward, I got no response. Clearly I was out of touch with what they wanted because they wanted paid! In one memorable telephone discussion with a band, they noticed that I didn't have a clue who they were despite them being number one in the charts at the time! Seriously though, take pity on me because I stopped watching Top of the Pops a decade or so earlier and there I was trying to type ENDUBS into google before realising that I couldn't event spell their name (sorry Dappy, Fazer and Tulisa). On the other hand when I announced we were bringing Katherine Jenkins and the Philharmonic Orchestra to the event, many of her fans thought it was great that I was focusing on the older generation rather than just my own!
I retired from the forces as a youthful 26 year old and later took an early finish from the fire service at 39. In my early thirties, I was considered too young to be either a fine wine merchant or a magistrate. In my fifties, I'm now out of touch as a wine merchant as it's all about the youth but on the flip side, I'm one of the most youthful supplemental magistrates in the UK. When organising festivals, I was out of touch with the youth but applauded for thinking about the older generation rather than my own!

Seriously folks, what is my generation and have I ever truly had one I can call my own? I feel confused at best and frustrated at worst so my plea is this! Am I alone in my age confusion or are there others out there who feel equally confused?

If anyone is listening, I'm 55 with a preference to rock ballads but I do like the odd bit of rap or hip hop (see, I know the terminology), I drive an electric car because I love dolphins yet on the flip side I can occasionally sympathise with the argument for attaching electrodes to the testicles of terrorists. I like a good shandy with a summers barbecue but I'm much more at home with a glass of claret and I still start every year with the aim of getting a six pack in time for summer while at the same time having to factor a bad back into my never existent exercise plans. I like the idea of a social care safety net while at the same time wanting mandatory jail terms to root out fraudulent scroungers. I love the NHS but don't really want to pay more tax for it and I have no problem with immigration as long as it's not uncontrolled. My favourite films are the Dam Busters and the Aliens series but I also like the occasional chick flick (please tell me it's not sexually inappropriate to call it that anymore) and while I love documentaries, I also enjoy a bit of reality tv now and then.

So my question is, am I still relevant or am I like Dr Who, never really in the right place at the right time? In fact, perhaps I should ask if I've ever been relevant?! Answers on a postcard please or is that the wrong technology now?


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