It’s a strange age, 45.
Even up to a couple of years ago, taxi drivers would occasionally call me “young man”. (Usually at journey’s end, as I squiffily fumbled for change. They know what they’re doing, the little tarts.)
Last week, as I was heading into town for my lunchtime cob (local vernacular; means “bap”), some old boy blundered round a corner, rather too quickly. “Sorry, youth”, he muttered myopically, as our guts briefly barged. I can surf off such slip-ups for days.
But there again, see. On my way into the Bodega Social Club the other night, I was kindly spared the effort of walking all the way round the corner to the back of the roped off entrance walkway. As he chivalrously unhooked the front section of rope and beckoned me through, the smirking doorman bestowed this deadly rite of passage upon my stooped shoulders:
“Step this way, Grandad! You come on inside, and take the weight off your feet!”
“Grandad’s on the guest list”, I icily retorted – aiming for Imperious, but landing somewhere around Huffy. Yeah, that told him.
I always knew this would happen. Right from the age of 14, as my occasional dates with Uncle John Peel (“Britain’s Oldest Teenager!” I joked, in the letter I never wrote) became nightly, unbreakable ones, I knew I these were no mere passing generational fancies. No, these passions were for life. (For a fickle little madam, I can be surprisingly steadfast.)
The other night at the Foals gig, with 95% of the audience under the age of 23 and a significant proportion in their teens, I counted just two other middle-aged men, up on the balcony, away from the fray. “Let’s stand at the bar and look like we’re Industry!”, I muttered to Sarah as we wedged ourselves in, dizzy from the fug of Biactol, rotting trainers and two-week-old T-shirts.
I don’t attend such events to be Down Wid Da Yoot, to leech off their energy, or indeed to feel much in the way of collective connection. I go because, on a good night, I get to witness a certain freshness of spirit – an instinct, an attitude, an attack – which has yet to be dimmed by recognition, repetition, routine. By them, or by me.
And besides: I was 19 once, and it hasn’t really changed that much. (Just don’t tell them that. Best if they don’t know.)
That’s why 45 rocks. Halfway between 20 and 70, and close enough to feel you can touch it all.
Caught up in the middle, jumping through the riddle, Grandad’s on the guest list tonight!