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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Pictures of Lily

I seemed to have missed something. The last time I looked John Lennon was a working class hero, Mike Jagger was a smart dude and the 60's were weird but great. Now I'm stuck in this fantastical world where China is hosting the unveiling of the Lennon memorial, celebrating his 70th ( no, I cannot believe it) birthday and my generation is being blamed for the decline and fall of western civilisation.

I now walk the streets disguised. I wear a hoddie, am constantly on my mobile and mumble. I'm simply trying not to be identified as someone who is over 60.

In the changing room at the local squash court, I shower in a full hijjib fearing that my varicose veins will give away my age. My over 60 Freedom Pass is now cleverly disguised as an AmEx Platinum card and my free prescriptions are passed under the counter.

I am part of the 60's generation. In age and mentality. I was paid to go to university - tuition fees what were they? I received a grant of £360 a year tax free. Enough to buy a kilo of pot, or a round trip to Haight Ashbury and a ticket to a Grateful Dead concert.

Home ownership. Let's see, live in digs for a while,share a flat and by the age of 30 buy a house for 2s 6d. Spend the next 40 years sitting on a gold mine.

Work. Not a problem. Your university had some sort of arrangement with a large employer, bank or the Foreign Office and your degree forged in the white heat of technology guaranteed you nice remuneration. Retirement  at 60 on a final salary pension and a wife.

Health. Smoked a lot as a kid, teenager and young adult but got scared so stopped at 34. Started running in the early 80's - not sure why but everyone did. Picked up on high cholesterol so had  full and regular health checks on the NHS, just at the time  money was being splashed out on the frightfully fraught  40's and 50's.

Retirement. The final salary pension is a great comfort. Having secured a career based on my degree, funded by the tax payer, I worked for the same business for nearly 40 years. In my defence , I had a few wobbles early on. Insurance, Copy writing, Social work but then settled down to a blissfully quiet life in the Civil Service.

Relaxation. Ah well this is where my 60's education paid off. I can listen for hours to Radio 4 without any sedation. Bob Harris leaves me - relaxed. The theatre - subsidised, of course, is a constant solace: provided it's not too controversial although I can take any amount of sexual content - my 60's heritage you'll appreciate.

Music and Sex. For my generation they are inextricably intertwined. It's the fusion of James Brown and Janice Joplin that has, and I use the expression advisedly, screwed up my appreciation of both. It, of course, means that Beethoven's Fifth and his late string quartets is totally forbidden, although "Blood Brothers" and "Return to the Forbidden Planet" are de rigueur. If I had to sum up my tastes it's the Kinks out of "The Rocky Horror Show".

This is my defence of my age which is now assailed on all sides by accountants and actuaries, economists and ecologists. All saying the same thing. " My generation - you've  fucked us up and no mistake".

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