Old people are people

Time for those vague resolutions soon! I don’t bother with anything specific. I don’t smoke and I don’t think it’s possible for me to lose or gain much more weight (perks of constant movement).
’Find out how to slow down time’ is a good resolution. I try to stay as zen as I can most of the time but now and then I realise I’m still young-young, and find myself wondering ‘Am I doing this right?’ My ear seems to be adept these days at picking out ’kids-these-days’ speak, ’oh to be young again’ speeches from friends and passing strangers. These speeches make me feel uncertain about being in my twenties, not better.
What am I supposed to be doing with my body while it’s fit and agile? Gymnastics? You need two hands for that and a lot of control. Rollercoasters? You’ll have to force me. Dance? Given the right setting. One old-person joke that’s never made me laugh is ’Don’t dance too hard; you’ll throw out a hip!’ Ouch, that sounds like an excruciating situation. Maybe you get the joke when you’re past 80. Maybe such jokes offer comfort and help you accept that you’re living at an age which nature didn’t intend, and you should celebrate that. Still, I am thankful that for now my hips are locked in for the ride.
Often I hear people below old-old age referring to the latter as if they’re more an object than a human.
’Typical old driver, should be off the road.’
’Typical old walker, walks too slow and won’t let you pass.’
’Typical old blah blah blah.’

Does the speaker think s/he will avoid becoming a ’typical old person’? We are all heading in the same direction, and will all one day do something deemed a typically old person thing to do. And we’ll probably have some young fuck judging us for it. Some arguments are worth discussion – such as when one should stop driving – but I’d like to see how willing most youngsters will be to throw away their licenses when they reach that age. It can’t be easy to admit that such an important ability and source of independence is gone forever.
There is a reverse view towards the elderly too, and I’m not looking forward to experiencing it. Ever seen a contestant in a gameshow mention that their grandmother is in the audience? There’s a 90% chance that after this the camera will move to the waving grandmother and then to the presenter, and the presenter will go ’aww’ or ’how sweet!’ Being old and a bit frail is associated with cuteness. Why? Being old means you should be more experienced in life than everybody else. I hope that by the time I’m 80 I’ll have perfected the formula of not giving a shit. If anything, I want to be the one patronising the youngsters.
’Aw, you’re upset because you broke your iPhone 20099? It doesn’t matter kid, none of this matters, we’ll be dead soon.’
There are still people around who lived through the 60s and I don’t think you’d call many of their tales sweet. Some of them experienced Hendrix, others broke on through to the other side. Yes, they took a lot of LSD. You can’t pretend these people were born in a rocking chair. And I’m not dismissing the good old sock-knitting, tea-making grandmother here. We all need one. Just know that she most definitely has some dark secret that you would struggle to handle. Maybe she mangles pigeons’ feet for fun. Maybe once upon a time she wasn’t a massive racist. You know, stuff like that.
My life resolution is to try and appreciate this temporary existence as much as possible while remembering that it’s really just a crazy game with no real objective. Nobody honestly knows what we’re doing here. When, on this slow yet quickening journey, I do hopefully reach old age I hope I will be OK with my position and mocking my younger self for failing in his attempts to sound deep and wise when he actually didn’t know anything. Happy New Year. I wonder how fast this one will pass.

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Can’t write will write

With Christmas comes cards, and if there’s one thing I openly admit to being adorable at (see ’D’awww’ post) it’s writing my own cards. Even though I have varying control over my one hand (the other being a layabout dick), I’ve always written Christmas and Birthday cards for my brother and my parents. It’s just something to do.
And it’s special, damn it. Each Christmas or Birthday the lucky recipient is guaranteed something unique, not in the message – it’s samey and uncreative – but in the handwriting. I’m fairly consistent at the ’To’ bit, but from then on it’s unpredictable. My most common mistake is making the recipient’s name tiny and scribbled before absolutely nailing mine at size-48. Other times I admit defeat and have to divert the eye from the mess by doodling on the opposite page some item yet to be invented or recognised by anyone. Every once in a while though I enter a stride. Something clicks and I end up admiring 4 or 5 wonderfully formed words.
’Do you like my gift?’ I ask.
’What gift?’
’My card. Just look at that “f”. You can frame it if you like.’
With the amount of effort and coaxing it takes for me to complete a faulty sentence (to… from), I usually reflect and fail to understand how most other people can write stuff down so easily. Not in a sad way, it’s just fascinating. If you can write with ease, try to imagine what it’s like to be a juggling contortionist. Hard to comprehend, right? And if you actually are a juggling contortionist, stop showing off.
I remember this kids program I used to watch where this Mexican mouse (naturally wearing a sombrero) would demand a giant pen show him how to write a letter of the alphabet. The giant pen would then form the letter step by step in one fluid motion, and then would do it again from scratch, one pretty letter with one smooth line. This hypnotised me every time it came on.*
A small activity done with flair and precision can still floor me to this day. I’m one of those weirdos who’s watched drawing tutorials on YouTube while having no intention of picking up a pencil. Street people posing as statues gawp at me gawping at them. How is it possible to be so still?? I have trouble concentrating on death scenes in films for the same reason – stab victims are SO STILL!
This isn’t inspiring, by the way, my writing cards. In fact my brother is inspired to do nothing but drink heavily after seeing my efforts. I do wonder if I could get onto the news with my story though, the one nice story you see at the end. I deserve 100k views on YouTube, at the least.

*By the way, I still don’t fully grasp the letter ’a’, but I’m close enough (’o’ with a tail, basically.)

The truth can hurt

I’d just finished reading Santa’s latest letter when my parents broke the news which, in turn, broke me – wonderful timing guys! Yes, it hurt. For 10 years I’d been cementing my magical sleigh theories, and now all was crushed in a matter of seconds.
Looking back though, I think this is the best lesson to teach a child:
Hey guess what, kids? You were lied to and you didn’t have a clue! You numpties. Kids receive a powerful punch for favouring faith over logic. I still remember the way my mind worked before that painful day. Classmates’ arguments falsifying the big red man were a no-no: I didn’t want to hear them because they evoked a bad feeling in my stomach. I’d go home and my brother would restore my faith, reinforce it ready for the next day.
Then there was the video evidence that my Dad had filmed of Santa rummaging around the living-room, unable to contain his Ho-Ho-Hos. This clip was my Bible. And then the fact that the man himself kept phoning me every year for a catch-up, bells ringing in the background (Grandad).
Would I still believe if my family never told me the truth? Probably not. But what if the story wasn’t universally debunked, if billions of adults insisted that Santa is alive but flies too fast for the eye to see? You know where this is going.
Santa is Jesus, isn’t he? He’s a fat son of/God ready to reward the good and punish the bad. ’Be good for goodness sake’, or jolly old Santa will throw you into the fireplace and watch you BURN forever. Sleep well children, and be sure to leave Santa a bathtub of milk so he doesn’t feel thirsty during your high-def torture.
Point is, if I’d been encouraged to believe in Jesus as much if not more than Santa, it’s very likely I’d still believe in the bearded magician today. I’d have kept pulling reasons out of my sleeve as to why no-one’s seen him around for centuries and this time I’d have a big book to refer to for more reasons, a book written and read by adults. I probably wouldn’t bother reading this sort of post because Santa is real, damn it, and if I just follow somebody else’s agenda and sacrifice critical thought he’ll deliver the biggest gift of all time… once I’m dead.
Anywho it’s Christmas and nobody’s allowed to hate me bar Sir Cliff Richard, who claims it’s the perfect season for hating, nay fighting to see…

By the way, my mind will never be blown as hard as the day the true meaning of ’I saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus’ was revealed to me. I was 23 years old.

Absolut Radio: the way radio should be

I discovered Absolut Radio by accident when my Dad tried playing the UK’s Absolute Radio on my sound system but left out the silent ’e’. I don’t mind the latter station: I think every station should adopt their ’no repeat guarantee’ feature, in which no song arises twice within the same work day. It took me some time to realise a new station was on. Absolute Radio has this funny up-for-a-laugh voiceover introducing the songs, so when the voice started talking German it seemed normal enough. Then I noticed the lack of 15-minute advert breaks, and then some German songs came on.
What makes this little German station so great then? Firstly, no adverts! It’s a stream of song after song after song, bar a tiny 10-second promotion of a concert happening someplace somewhere. I don’t like every song they play, but there’s usually a few pleasant surprises and that’s the key word here: surprises. I never know what I’ll hear when I turn on this channel. Rock, 90s pop, German dance, harder rock, an acoustic cover of a massive hit performed by someone whose voice I kind of recognise but not quite, German hip-hop, a current chart-topper, etc etc. I’ve been listening to this station on and off for around a year and so far have only caught 3 repeats of 3 individual songs, which is completely bearable compared to the norm of catching 1 song 10 times a week in the car. This is because Absolut plays an artist’s album tracks as well as their big singles. Often I’ll hear a song I was unaware of from a band I thought I knew well. And it’s refreshing to be frequently surprised by radio, a medium which nowadays seems to live by the comfort zone, reaching for that same group of people who just want to hear the stuff they know over and over and over. Absolut laughs at Heart’s and Kiss FM’s notions of variety.
It gets better though. As mentioned, there are no adverts on this channel, and the German voiceover (let’s call him Hans) is the sole sign that you’re listening to a radio station rather than somebody’s bipolar Spotify playlist. After every 3-4 songs Hans makes his presence known.
’Tis good, yar? Absolut!’
’Hahaha, Absolut!’
Or you’ll hear him marching down an echoey corridor, visiting his vast hall of records in pursuit of more songs. I like to imagine Hans runs the entire station from a studio in his basement. He’s slightly balding, has permanently bloodshot eyes and a moustache, a nice fluffy one that’s totally UNLIKE Hitler’s, you racist. No, our man Hans is a gentleman, the type of man you’d invite home for a coffee and he’d sit there in silence, brain abuzz over the perfect song to add to his infinite playlist.
I wish we could pick the station up in the car, the place where music can demand attention from a passenger, but the signal is limited to the same old copycat stations. The one drawback to the station is that Hans never announces any artist names, so if something does catch your attention you’ll have to rush to the German site before the song ends. Absolut Radio was my little secret, but now I pass it onto my dear readers, all 2 of you. ’Tis good, yar?