“Guess what I watched today?” said my mam.
It’s a question that strikes fear into my heart. She’d just been to the day centre – God bless the NHS – and it could have been anything. She had a small stroke a few years ago and at times can’t quite remember her words, so a conversation can turn into a Two Ronnies‘ sketch.
Thankfully, this time wasn’t like that – in fact, she didn’t even give me time to answer.
“The nurse brought in Al Jolson.”
No, the legendary singer of old hadn’t been resurrected and marched to a day centre in Newcastle. (He might have been signed up for Newcastle United if he had, so desperate are they for talent.) Film titles are not important to mam; they’re all just reduced to the main actor in them.
Her: “I’ve been watching Fred Astaire.”
Me: “Which one?”
Her: “The Ginger Rogers one.”
So I have no idea what Al Jolson she watched, but “it was wonderful. All the old songs.”
I grew up hearing “the old songs” of my mam’s teenage years and early adulthood. It’s left me with a love for jazz and swing and give me a Fred Astaire and I’m happy. But when I’m my mam’s age? What will be my old songs then?
Old people and Vera Lynn go together like stottie cake and butter. But old people and the Buzzcocks? The Stone Roses? Kajagoogoo?
Will we be sitting in wing-back chairs humming along to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now? Our feet tapping along to Smells Like Teen Spirit? Will afternoon tea dances be filled with pogoing pensioners? How on earth will we dance to Oops Upside Your Head when we’re wearing surgical stockings and holding on to zimmer frames?
It goes on. Imagine switching on BBC2 on a Saturday afternoon to be confronted by the likes of Porky’s, just for the old folks. The youngsters will laugh at us for watching Jaws in 2D instead of the VR version they’re submerged in. We’ll reminisce about the “old classics” – Rambo, The Breakfast Club, ET and Mad Max.
Werther’s Originals will go out of business, replaced by Pickled Onion Monster Munch, while the pensioner specials will be chicken kiev and garlic bread, washed down with pernod and black.
Days out to stately homes will be replaced by discounted trips to Ibiza, Pete Tong behind the decks at a giant rave and warfarin and Tena pantyliners on offer in place of acid and glo-sticks.
And we’ll all huddle together and talk about how it wasn’t like this in the good old days, when we had to do maths with a basic calculator, had to write with pens and wait for the modem to load up. We’ll bitch about how GTA:525 Vice Jupiter Story will never replace Pacman and ask: “Where were you when the Pixies split up?”
It’ll be old age, but not as we know it.
Let’s face it – we’re going to be crap OAPs. It’s going to be bloody fun.
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