31 March, 2014 / General
I read recently that no one acts their age anymore. In fact it’s estimated that we behave around a decade younger than the age we really are. I’m not sure how this was measured, as surely it’s impossible to say how a 40 year-old, as opposed to someone of 50, should behave – but the gist is that we’re not being terribly grown-up. I know lots of forty- and even fifty-something men who are just like adolescents really, with less hair. And women who, despite groaning a bit when they get up from a chair, still hare off to Ibiza at the drop of a hat. Prolonged adolescence, the experts call it, and I think it’s great.
Well, compared to real adolescence it is. I mean, who’d want to be thirteen again, and who can blame us for wanting to have another shot at it? It was hellish, first time around. Spots, boils and communal showers at school, with everyone laughing at your pubes, or lack thereof – not to mention exams, those horrible Findus Crispy Pancakes and having to live with Mum and Dad. No one in their right mind would want to go through that again.
The late 70s/early 80s were a particularly bad time to be young. Who was there to fancy? Leo Sayer and Bruno out of Fame. We wore polka-dot ra-ra skirts and leg warmers over jeans – probably the least flattering garments ever invented. There were only three – at most four – TV channels, and you couldn’t make a phone call without a parent listening in to every word. And, God, life was dull back then. Nothing to look forward to apart from Christmas, birthdays and the Eurovision Song Contest. As we lived in a tiny West Yorkshire village, life was particularly uneventful. Apart from when the ice cream van came – just once, during the twelve years we lived there – the rest of the time I spent sitting a field, or swinging on a farm gate.
So who can blame my generation for behaving immaturely, now that we’re old enough to enjoy it? I don’t mean wearing clothes designed for youngsters – tiny denim hotpants are not the way I want to go. Nor am I talk about partying so relentlessly that I can’t haul myself out of bed in the morning. I mean, someone still has to make breakfast. No, it’s more a feeling that it’s still possible to act spontaneously, should the urge take us. Like stealing a day off work because the sun’s shining. Like not feeling like a failure because you’ve had a piece of toast (wheat! Aghh!), or decided you actually hate kale, and couldn’t be arsed to make your green juice that morning.
Is anything more tediously grown up than the current obsession with clean, pure living? Even my most health-aware friend found Gwyneth’s cookbook, ‘It’s All Good’, too joyless to follow for more than three days. ‘No one else in the family would eat anything I made,’ she moaned. So no wonder we’re rebelling. You can hardly blame us for cracking open the wine on a school night or deciding not to get the roof fixed because what we actually want to spend our money on is a weekend in Nice.
I bet even Gwyneth’s rebelling – against her former self – after the big split announcement. I love to think of her saying, ‘Sod it’, binning her Manuka honey and consciously uncoupling the lid off a big tub of Nutella and scoffing it with a spoon. In bed, of course, under slightly manky adolescent sheets.