Thursday, 12 September 2013

The madnesses of now

Generally speaking, when someone asks me what era I'd like to have lived in (not a frequent enquiry I grant you), with the possible exception of the late 1950s, I can think of no finer time to be alive than now. Of course I look back at the late 70s and nearly all the 80s with great affection, but that's because of the age I was at the time. So I'm not an advocate of the notion that times past were"the good old days".

And yet, and yet....there are aspects of how we are today that I think we'll look back on in 20, 30 years time with as much bemusement as we look back at the purple polyester flares of the 1970s today. In no particular order, these include:

- the lack of availability and quality of wifi. To our kids' children it'll be as commonplace and accepted as electricity or plumbing. They'll guffaw at our pitiful attempts to connect on trains and our inability to do so in place in the same way we laugh at those enormous mobile phones of the early 1980s

- slightly more politically, we'll shake our heads in disbelief at the coexistence of the progressive deterioration of the lives of our elderly (unsavoury nursing homes, dispersed family, loneliness, a reduced allocation of health service resources) with the fact that we were paying to keep a vast army of people inactive (the unemployed), when they could have been working to address at least some of the elderly's issues. To suggest of course that people should have to do anything to justify their JSA or housing benefit would no doubt be greeted with howls of outrage from great swathes of the population claiming to speak on their behalf.  I can see there might be some practical challenges in setting up what I suggest, but the principle of doing something for your dole money? On that I'm unshakeable, and if that makes me an evil right-winger, so be it

- visible, prominent tattoos, or at least their prevalence in the population. Maybe I'm terminally old-fashioned, but I just don't think they make anyone look more attractive. Some tattoos I understand even if I wouldn't have myself - regimental mottos, ironman symbols, spouse names for example - but random designs on necks and feet? I think our children will think it odd, to say the least. By then we'll be finding less painful and expensive ways of expressing our individuality

- the strange cult of shopping. We all need stuff from time to time of course. But to go to a shopping centre or city centre and spend hours gazing at things you don't really need and can't really afford, surely that's a form of torture? I admit it keeps the glorious countryside much emptier than it would otherwise be, so improving the running and cycling experience - but surely people are going to wake up and smell the proverbial, realising they can have a more fun, healthier and cheaper day out than worshipping at their retail cathedrals?

- and talking of healthier, that we were so damn fat. Actually, I'm not sure that people will look back on now as a time of strange behaviour. I fear that the steady march towards obesity will continue until kids are educated about diet properly. And how to cook. And the difference between good calories and junk calories. I'm not being a diet fascist here - beer and chocolate feature regularly in mine - but you just need to be aware of how what you put in your stomach affects you long term

I could undoubtedly come up with more, much more, but I'd begin to veer into grumpy old man territory if I did. And I need no further encouragement in that direction. Exercise normally tempers the worst of those particular excesses, and I've been below quota on that in the last 10 days, mainly due to recovering from the Macc Canal run, which perhaps explains this post. There is, however, not a part of my body that hasn't been stretched beyond its usual shape, as my bum muscles in particular will testify. If that leaves you with an unsavoury vision, I apologise sincerely.


  1. Oh how you wound me with those original ripostes....I've got 2 weeks left in Reading to return the lunch favour you mongrel -.are you around?

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