I'm not a grumpy old man, just an out of synch hippy

Friday, 31 August 2012


Walking Blues

Not available at Footlocker

Just come back from a week with the Ramblers. You don’t meet any teenagers when you’re rambling. It’s extremely uncool, you see. You’re out in the country. There are no shops to loot. The mud does nothing for your Nikes. The rain flattens out all the spikes in your hair.

My Teenage Self, in fact, is disgusted with me spending all that time with boring sexagenarians (that’s a misnomer – there’s not much sex). But I’d like to reassure MTS that the holiday conversations of sixty five year olds are no more mind-rotting than those of younger generations.

In my 30s, people on walking breaks obsessed about gear. Gore-Tex was the thing. At first I thought they were discussing the next phase of Massacre Movies.

People in their 40s went on about their kids. Damien had just got an A in History so was clearly destined to be PM in twenty years. Rambling, of course, only took second place to their main holiday in Mustique – just because they didn’t buy you a drink they didn’t want you to think they were cheap.

Ramblers in their 50s waffled on about equity release and endowment payments. “Stop!” yells MTS, “This is just so boring and irritating”. Well, MTS, wait till they got on to their garage extension. And then their Audis...

Now I’m in my 60s ramblers have finally got real. They talk about styles (the country walk type, not the catwalk). Specifically, how they’ve suddenly got higher. “I have no problem myself, of course – it’s the others I’m worried about.”

And they talk about cats. I spent half an evening hearing about Sue from Chorley’s killer tom who’d dragged a seagull through the catflap. That was more fun than mortgages. Especially after a large Glenmorangie.

Now, whatever happened to Damien?…


Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Jumping for Misery

What goes up......

To the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival over the weekend with Mrs K and a picnic. The headliner was horn player Courtney Pine, known for mashin’ up the classics, as they say.

Courtney was determined to get down with the kids.  “Hey London” he shouted, “What’s all this sittin’ down? Get up and shake your booty!” The twenty-somethings round us leapt up like a warrenful of rabbits being chased by a ferret. Not wishing to be party poopers, we said “Oh, alright” and staggered up.

“Now wave your arms and pump your fists!” roared Courtney.

I was balancing a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in one hand and an olive on top of a knob of Roquefort on top of a chunk of bread in the other. No go, Courtney.

Things improved as he began to play some actual music. After a couple of Ellington numbers even the girls next to us dropped their iphones to clap, though they may well have been simply dialling into smaller phones.

But Courtney wasn’t content. It was all getting too listen-y. He wanted everyone to jump on the count of four. By now I had added ¾ of a can of Polish Lager to the wine inside me. Jumping was out of the question. So was counting. Mrs K and I raised our eyebrows instead.

Courtney still was unhappy. He wanted us all to do ten jumps. Then a hundred. Then a hundred and ten.

I was quite keen to stay on familiar terms with the anchovies, the Roquefort, the sausages, the bread, the olives, the wine and the beer.

I’ve seen Jimi Hendrix. I’ve seen the Rolling Stones. I’ve seen Bob Dylan. Never did any of those people tell me to jump.

Jumping is done by teenagers, ballerinas and circus dogs.  Jumping fuses your intestines with your liver and causes cancer. If God had meant us to jump He wouldn’t have made beer sloppy.

After fifteen minutes of being jostled by leaping girls, Mrs K said “He’s not going to play any more music, is he?” so we took the train home where another delicious can of Polish beer awaited. Ice cold, and to be drunk on the sofa.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Happy Birthday to Me


Too many candles spoil the icing

Uh huh. It’s my birthday.  They recur with remorseless regularity, which of course is the whole point of them.
 
I had cards from Mrs K, the Kirwood sister, friends and my acting agent. I also had a message from the Google people: “Hey Tony, it’s your special day!” Thanks, guys, but you really shouldn’t. I’m only going to have to reciprocate.

I also had three “Happy Birthday”emails from Netlog.  I tried to sign up with them last year, in a fit of guilt at being underconnected to the social network (in my day we called it “the pub”). I’m crap at all this stuff and it took me three tries with different passwords and usernames. Now I know they all worked.

I have at least five different identities lurking in cyberspace: akirwood, tkirwood, anthonykir, tonykirwood and kirwoodtony.

Not many know this, but each identity is a different facet of my personality. Akirwood is my public online persona: affable, approachable, knows his html from his cms. The job of emailing editors and casting directors is his. Tkirwood is the grumpy, anxious face behind the mask. He’s the one who gets trapped at the shopping baskets.

Anthonykir is the devastating email joker who irritates my friends. Tonykirwood is the slack-jawed hippy slavering over classic youtube music clips. Kirwoodtony is a vindictive hunchbacked troll whom you don’t want to know and neither do I.

These days, when the entire world is muscling in on my birthday observations (why??? You won’t get a drink out of it), it’s touch and go which identity you’ll get.

You mean you don’t know my age? Meet the affable akirwood.

What do you like about birthdays?
What do you hate about them?

Thursday, 9 August 2012


Fever Bitch
We've even won the One-Eyed Handball  Event

Damn these Olympics. They’re so un-British. When Mary Rand or someone won in Seoul in ’88, Reykjavic in ’73 or Punxatawny in ‘67 (have I got this right?) people would say “Oh yeah?”

A headline “Britain Gets Gold” would impinge on our consciousness in about the same way as one saying “Big Cod Caught off Norway”. No one got excited. In fact, it was slightly embarrassing.

Winning was what more vulgar nations did. The odd medal won by we Brits was by mistake really. Or just to show we weren’t that standoffish.

But last Saturday night I was screaming at my TV, pumping my arms and yelling “Go Mo go!!!” as Mo Farah raced down the final lap of the 10,000 metres. Being a sensible bloke he took my advice. When Jess Ennis did her spurt in the final pentathlon event, I was on my feet waving my arms screaming “Get ‘em, Jess!” She did just as I said.

I think I’ll drop everything and become an athletics coach.

I’m alarming my friends. Next morning I met an old pal on the train. “Fantastic, isn’t it?” I said. “What, you got that film part?” he replied. “No, much better -” I yelled, “six Golds!”

I’m becoming enthusiastic about Sport. It’s not typical. Soon I’ll start be wearing Union Jack face paint. I’ll go up to strangers and blab about the importance of the transition in the Triathlon. I’ll sign up to a Triathlon event…

I’ve just realised what I’ve written. This is going too far. I’ve lost my British cynicism. Us baby boomers should take our sneering seriously. But let’s not panic. There’s the third cricket test against South Africa coming up.  Plenty of opportunity to lose there.

Have the Olympics been making you behave in uncharacteristic ways?


Saturday, 4 August 2012


Memory Loss? If it’s good enough for goldfish it’s good enough for me
As long as I can remember the taste of beer......

My memory’s leaking. Every day another fact or word vanishes into the mist. These days I have trouble remembering….damn, what’s the word? Ah, that’s it – things.

It’s annoying. I keep having to change the subject because a name goes. Now what’s his name? Tall guy. Nice suit. Er…. Twenty minutes later, I’ve found it – Barack Obama.

I forget where I put my pens. If I’m lucky I might find them a month later piled up somewhere they shouldn’t be, such as under the spanner in the toolbox. I never use the toolbox. If I’m unlucky they go to the graveyard of words, combs, phone numbers and debit cards which have been lost in action in my life over the last decade.

I went to a Prom concert last week. Mrs K rang to say she didn’t have the tickets. I was entering my finest “Koh! Typical!” mode when it turned out it was me who had brought them. I later found them in a forgotten drawer, along with eighteen pens.

But who cares? I forget the names of annoying people. I don’t have to send them Christmas cards. If someone says something crass or boring, half an hour later – it’s gone. I forget to pay the bills. OK, I keep having to ward off the bailiffs but think of those extra weeks when my bank account is fat.

I can remember the important things. Like the names of all The Animals: Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Hilton Valentine, John Steel and Chas Chandler and no, I didn’t just Google them. I can tell you the storylines of all 13 episodes of “Fawlty Towers” with the full cast. No one can live a full life without those facts at their disposal.

I can even remember Mrs K’s birthday. OK, I admit, it’s tattooed to the inside of my lip.