Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve surrendered, I’ve become middle aged: I’ve joined the National Trust.
The warning signs have been there for some time. I think I need to get out into the open that the following have all happened:
- Turning off Radio Two because it’s too rowdy.*
- Spending your break buying medication instead of clothes.
- Having to ask younger colleagues what Twitter/text abbreviations mean.
- Being shocked when they tell you.
- Looking forward to a night in more than a night out.
- Correctly guessing on a quiz show that a piece of music was by Mahler because it just sounded like Mahler.
- Using the word “thingy” more and more to describe a thingy (or person) whose name you can no longer recall.
- Remembering what R&B sounded like the first time round, when Beyonce and Jay Z it weren’t.
- Being unable to stand up from the sofa without saying “oof” or “creak” or making some other kind of noise.
- Realising that you know as many people who’ve died as you have good friends who are alive.
As I write, I have a bag of frozen peas strapped to my arthritic knee by means of a crepe bandage, over the top of my Marks and Spencer pyjamas. My Achilles tendon on the same leg has suddenly started playing up for the first time. But enough of me going on about my health. Anyone would think I was middle aged.
Where were we? Ah yes, the National Trust. I have successfully notched up my first visit, and noted that my fellow visitors were mostly ladies in slacks and men in check shirts. I have seen the future and it shops at BHS.
The experience as a whole was, of course, delightful. It involved wandering around the grounds of a beautiful 15th century house in deepest Hampshire, catching up with an old friend, and eating tea and cake in the sunshine on the warmest day of the year so far. Maybe this middle aged lark won’t be so bad after all. Anything that involves tea and cake can’t be that bad, can it?
It’s not that long since my last tea-and-cake experience – a Saturday afternoon birthday party with a Jane Austen video for entertainment, with a group of older ladies. In a further worrying sign, I really enjoyed that too.
The whole area of news and cultural references is a telling one too. I remember Pans People and the Tory wets, the murder of Mountbatten and the great heatwave of 1976. Colleagues born in the 80s (pah!) consider some of these things as confusing details of history.
“I never really did understand the Falklands War,” one such woman said to me.
Ringing up another colleague to discuss the Spanish banking crisis, I made a passing reference to the collapsed bank BCCI. I could hear her confusion in the brief silence that followed. Should’ve stuck to Northern Rock.
And, worst of all, when the fantastic Donna Summer died, two whole teams at work said a collective “Who?” A similarly-vintaged colleague and I were already singing her greatest hits when the news reached us that many people in the room had never heard of her.
So I’m middle aged: I’m out and I’m proud. I may drive to the sound of Classic FM instead of Capital, I may do most of my internet surfing on health matters, and I may know all the lyrics to Life’s Been Good, but at least I know what LOL means. I’m not over the hill just yet.
(*It was Franz Ferdinand. Does that make it OK ?)