The 21st Century – No Place For A Young Fogey

As a 27 year-old, I’m either old or young, depending on a. how old you are and b. what my life expectancy might be. I consider 27 more or less the border between old and young; not quite close enough to the dreaded ‘3-0’ for heart palpitations and an aching sense of regret to set in, but certainly not close enough to 20 to feel like the life in front of me is a blank page upon which I’m free to write whatever story I choose.

However, with the world changing more rapidly these days (what with the internet and reality TV and newfangled mp3s, eh? eh? eh?) than I seem to have the capacity to keep up with, I feel increasingly like one of the young fogeys that Chris Evans and Gabby Roslin used to wheel out on The Big Breakfast – for those too young to know, that’s a 20th Century thing.  Even my reference for illustrating my young-fogeyness is past its sell-by-date.

I sometimes divide my lifespan so far into two eras: the pre-Jurassic Park period (BJP) and the post (AJP). Whenever I see people born in the AJP years, speaking as sentient beings about grownup things like applying for university, or the state of the economy, or going to pubs, or anything more advanced than an infant gurgle, I find myself invariably angry with them. How dare they exit the womb after June 1993? You mean to say I was having the most exhilarating cinematic experience of my life at the Odeon in David Place, FOUR times, and you hadn’t even grown hands yet? Pathetic. This is a typical internal rant that happens with me daily, and presumably as these young adults grow to become the people that are running things, it’ll only get worse.

I remember the good old days of the 1990s, when footballers were allowed to get drunk on planes and generally tit around in public constantly, like Paul Gascoigne, or Paul Merson, or Robbie Fowler. And when Nicolas Cage used to make decent films instead of straight-to-DVD wiffle, and his face wasn’t so horsey and his hairline wasn’t completely bonkers. And when if you had the tune to a song stuck in your head but didn’t know the artist or track title, you had to wait until you next heard it on the radio, and you couldn’t just whistle it into a phone and instantly buy it.  And when the closest thing we had to X Factor was Stars in Your Eyes, in which the extent of the winners’ post-victory adventure would be a decently-paid tour of every Butlins in England and, if they were lucky, getting to turn on the Christmas lights in their hometown.

In Armando Ianucci’s Time Trumpet, some of the funniest scenes involve elderly talking heads, set in the future, reminiscing about the old days, ‘when we only had Super Nintendos’ and ‘we didn’t have broadband yet, just dial-up’. It’s hilarious partly because it draws our attention to the speed of progress in the world that we live in and sends up the speed with which we adjust and take it for granted, and the swiftness with which the more senior of society’s citizens get left behind. Yet increasingly, this really is the world I live in. I’m living my own personal Time Trumpet.