Shipwrecked, glad to say? (1, 5, 3)
Megan was right. I am old at heart. I am utterly out of sync with my own generation. While my contemporaries were out clubbin’ and dropping tabs, I was watching BBC4 and practising my chipping. Yes, I play golf, a game that has been terminally naff for half a century. I have spent much of today hacking my way round Frilford’s Blue Course in the rain with a bunch of septuagenarians, completely missing England’s victory over the Springboks at Twickenham. I will let you off a hole-by-hole account.
Have I aged prematurely? Still, I seem to have eschewed most of the annoying affectations of my peers. For instance, I never once wore those low-slung bum-revealing trousers so beloved of my peer group. I’d like to think I have never used the word “like” as a random phatic utterance mid-sentence. I have never owned a smart-phone. I even declined to carry a Stone Age pay-as-you-go mobile until very recently – in that respect, I may have been the last remaining refusenik aged 4-40 in Britain.
I wear slippers about the house in the evening and good thick stripey pyjamas in bed. I have developed an unhealthy interest in Victoria Coren Mitchell. I am unapologetically progeric. If I am to die on 30th December, perhaps it is because I have lived out my natural lifespan, like one of those poor kids with Werner Syndrome destined to look and feel like a 75-year old when they are 15.
In a moment of madness, I even secretly voted Conservative in the 2015 General Election, an act that is surely unthinkable for any normal person under the age of 50. I occasionally catch myself wondering whether I should be putting money into some sort of pension. Knowing what I do, would it be ethical to take out a massive life insurance policy? If only I could think of some suitable beneficiaries …
But the biggest gulf of all has been in musical taste. Most people, I am sure, form an indelible attachment to the sounds to which they are exposed at fifteen and continue to listen to that music for the rest of their lives. But while my friends were falling under the spell of Elephant and Absolution, I had no time for their callow twaddle, still less for the likes of Coldplay and Linkin Park. I was already in thrall to the music of an earlier generation. I had discovered the Golden Age of British Music which stretches from the release of Sergeant Pepper in 1967 to Wish You Were Here in 1975. If not my America, it was certainly my new-found land and I have lived there quite happily ever since.
So once I am out of my sodden golf-gear and tonight’s steak-and-kidney pie is in the oven, I turn to Procul Harum’s A Salty Dog and relax in the gentle currents of that magnificent Coleridgean narrative:
We sailed for parts unknown to man where ships come home to die.
No lofty peak, nor fortress bold could match our captain’s eye.
Upon the seventh seasick day, we made our port of call,
A sand so white, and sea so blue, no mortal place at all.