We have our iPods and fashionable wardrobes, but just like the
hippies, we will fall prey to gardening and good manners
October 19, 2008
We are the generation who think we are never going to turn into our
parents, thanks to Boots anti-age serum and our relentlessly youthful
mind-set. Sometimes we might feel a bit creaky in the morning, but,
still, we are confident that age shall not wither us nor the passage
of time alter our habits and lifestyle, because we are different. We
shop in Topshop. We have a BlackBerry and probably an iPod Touch, and
party like it was . . . years ago, whenever we get the chance.
Tending the garden followed by a little light golf is never ever
going to happen to us.
The trouble is, that's what the hippies thought, and look what's
happened to them. According to a new study published by the Economic
and Social Research Council, the generation that rejected not just
Crimplene and pensions, but every single convention of adult life,
are making like their parents in retirement. Okay, they may have more
wind chimes in their gardens. Possibly they're wearing Birkenstocks
rather than Hush Puppies, and cooking more lentils, but the disciples
of the new age are using their golden years like every pensioner
before them for home improvements and long walks. This lot were
supposed to be the alternative generation! What hope is there for us
if the kids who danced naked at Woodstock and snacked on fried
placenta are meekly filing off to garden centres?
Still, if the hippies are conforming, it makes it easier for the rest
of us to admit that we are sometimes tempted by the prospect of
turning into our parents. Electing to be really young for ever is
easy, as is refusing to compromise on hair and clothes, going on
self-discovery adventure holidays, dashing about being endlessly up
for it, and so on. But there's plenty of small stuff that can get to
you. For example, the just-too-loud music in restaurants (the
genuinely young would never notice and, anyway, having to shout only
adds to the occasion for them); small incidents of rudeness (past a
certain age these can ruin your day); fast food and cheap wine (six
years ago you'd have just chucked it down and got on with it, but
that was before midlife hangovers and indigestion).
Also, you can find yourself hankering after those things that you've
run away from up to this point: order and standards and impeccable
manners. You want to sit down to lunch at the time your hosts
advertised, not two hours later. You need the house to be clean and
your shoes reheeled and for there to be enough loo paper and a proper
jug for the cream and you want people to be kind and charming. Some
say you know you are becoming like your parents when you would rather
plant seedlings than go to a party.
I say you know when you start to obsess about thank-you notes and, if
the sun comes out, you feel panicked about getting some fresh air.
Listen, if the hippies couldn't fight it, then nobody can.