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

Monday, 29 October 2012


Old folks - no sex jokes please
Wait till you see what they get up to when the car's gone past....

I went to a comedy club this week to watch a friend do his act. It was in a packed South London basement: it felt like going steerage on the “Titanic”. I was the oldest by about 30 years. The compere wanted to warm us up, even though it was about 45° down there. “Hug the person next to you!” he yelled.

I’m a Brit. I don’t really do hugs unless you’re Mrs K or the Kirwood sister or you’re rescuing me from a fire. The two girls on either side of me wrapped themselves round their blokes. “Hey – don’t leave him out!” screamed the compere. All eyes swivelled to me. Thanks, mate. One of the girls gave me a peremptory shoulder pat. I thought of screaming “Fire!” but it would have disrupted the evening.

The first act was in her 40s and her routine was about “fanny farts”. To the uninitiated, these are nothing to do with breaking wind. They involve a female sexual organ, an intimate act, and suction. Yep, you’re right. She wasn’t subtle. But her impressions of how ageing affects these noises - a twenty-five year old (like balloon air escaping) and then a thirty-five year old (imagine quicksand) - raised a lot of cackles.

She said “Now for a forty-five year old…” and someone shouted “Please – not that!” Then she “did” a fifty-five year old and was drowned out with groans of disgust. To these kids, jokes about older people having sex were about as off-limits as ones about strangling babies.

I was the only person laughing. All eyes flipped back to me. I touched volume control: maybe an older person actually chuckling in public is disgusting, too. I lifted my beer to my lips… NO! the sight of a sexuagenarian physically ingesting liquid would start a riot…

Luckily my friend was on next. He has a great routine about the difficulties of keeping your sex life going when you’re married. How we all roared. Mind you, he’s only 32.


Monday, 22 October 2012


History – what’s the point of having been there?
The Fender Stratocaster. It didn't  reach  England  until  '58.  Along with  the wheel. 

I had an acting job last week - a commercial for a Games Console. I played Klutzy Granddad. In a gap between filming I was sitting around with the young actor playing Cheeky but Clever Son. To kill time I asked the kid, “Who’s your favourite band?”  I expected his answer to be some dreary modern bunch I’d never heard of and that our exchange would go something like:

“It’s got to be the Wet Paint Watchers.”

“Oh. The Wet Pant Washers….good, are they?”

“Well, duh – they are my favourite band.”

His reply was “The Shadows.” What - my favourite band when I was his age?  Then he said, “Hank Marvin, the coolest pre-Clapton guitarist. You know ‘F.B.I’? Du du derrrr, du du du derr, du du derrrrr du du durrrrr….” as he meticulously air-picked the tune. “I got it off Youtube,” he said blithely.

“The Shadows!” I cried, “Wow, Daddy-oh!” Fifty years had slipped away faster than the fizz in a pint of Harp lager. “Hank, Bruce, Jet Harris, and I’m still getting over Tony Meehan having to quit the drum stool in ‘62”.

He looked at me coolly.  “I think you’ll find if was ‘61” he said.

“Whatever,” I said hurriedly, “But he was great in ‘The Rumble’, eh?”

“‘The Rumble’ featured Brian Bennett. Meehan’s replacement.…Don’t you ever look at the internet?”

“Anyway” I gulped, “What pioneers! Marvin, the first UK guy to own a Telecaster.”

He looked at me as if he’d just caught me chewing a bar of soap. “Stratocaster,” he said. I now began to notice his slightly pointy ears.

This kid knew more about my youth than I did. Soon he’d tell me what the attractive brunette in the Carlisle Dance Hall had said in 1964 after she’d laughed out my chat up line. And then give me the Youtube link to it.

All we had to refer to in our day was “Juke Box Jury”, and your mate’s grubby copy of “Melody Maker” which had been passed round the class. How the hell were we supposed to about the music that was going on?

Luckily the two of us were then called back on set to film the second scene in which Cheeky but Clever Son finally showed Klutzy Granddad how to work the console. How he loved it.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Is you is or is you ain’t a baby boomer?
That's what you get for dropping the marker pen in the laundry  

It's come to my notice lately that all kinds of people are claiming to be Baby Boomers. Some of them have even been born in the 60s! Out of pure public spiritedness, I have decided that, once and for all, there is absolute clarity on this crucial social issue. Answer the following questionnaire and your generational uncertainties will be sorted once and for all.

Your mobile battery runs out in the middle of a call to your stockbroker. Do you:
A.    Plug in your laptop and Skype her?
B.     Swear loudly – and borrow your wife/husband’s mobile?
C.     Wait till you get home and use your land line?
D.    Throw the phone into the canal and say “Hey man, I’m quitting this breadhead rat race”, drive your car over a cliff and join a commune?

You’re having difficulties entertaining your daughter’s moronic, monosyllabic boyfriend whom you’ve invited round for dinner. Do you:
A.    Try to bring him out of his shell by talking about the latest hip hop music?
B.     Recommend him to a social skills counsellor?
C.     Put on the telly and ignore him?
D.     Dust off your ancient Stratocaster and tell him “You’re going to love this Eric Clapton number, man”?

You’re in the pub and suddenly can’t remember the name of a 1963 pop band. Do you:
A.    Look it up on your iPhone?
B.     Think “It doesn’t matter, I never heard their stuff anyway”
C.     Bore everyone else in the pub by describing the band to them and saying “Go on, you know who they are”?
D.    Go very quiet, and when you get home, google “Alzheimers”?

At work a young female colleague strolls in dressed in totally inappropriate “slut” gear. Do you:
A.    Post racy banter about her on your Facebook page?
B.     Complain to your Line Manager?
C.     Ignore her. Women these days are all crazy.
D.    Stare at her, slack-jawed, thinking “I’d forgotten what it looked like”?

If you score mainly As: You’re under 35. You think a baby boomer’s some kind of music app on your phone. What in friggin’ heck made you do the questionnaire?
Mainly Bs: You’re a 90s person, so you’re in between the “Me” generation and the techno crowd. You don’t know who the hell you are and I can’t help you.
Mainly Cs: You’re a Thatcher/Reagan child. You’re still sulking because you’ve looked so skinny since shoulder pads went out of fashion.
Mainly Ds: You’re the real thing and I love you! Come round to my house whenever you want, as long as you have a boot full of beer.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Drinking's too important to be left to the young

He's been drinking the same beer for 40 years
Went to a folk concert last night. Hey, don’t get like that - it’s not all “Hey nonny no I’ll give my lady a necklace made of frogspawn”. Folk music can rock. If you don’t agree go back to licking the bacon rind off Lady Gaga’s headgear or whatever it is you think trendy.

At the station we met some young people I know.”We’re going out to get tanked!” screamed one. “Whooo – slaughtered!” said another. “Sooooo pissed!!!” they all yelled in chorus. They were dressed in modern young woman’s drinking kit: five inch matchstick heels for more spectacular falls, necks covered in bling as handles by which their mates can drag them out of the gutter, and thin diaphanous tops so they can shiver properly after missing the night bus.

My generation got drunk in simple gear which we could shove easily into the launderette the next day, or whenever our hangover could bear the twirling motion. And we’d get drunk by accident.

We’d meet in the pub because it was the only place that would fit all of us. How convenient - they sold beer there! So we had some. It tasted nice, so we had a bit more. And then we drank some more because drinking makes you thirsty. There were no idiots singing Karaoke. No huge sports screens. No eardrum-bleeding DJ trying to make you wave your arms around. All there was to do was drink.

And so we got uncomplicatedly, quietly drunk. Nothing to shout about. When we left the pub, we didn’t fall three feet over our shoes. We didn’t scream in the gutter. We didn’t vomit over the mate who’d come to pick us up.

We just fell over, that’s all.

After the concert (a great singer called Nancy Kerr) we headed for the bar. Shockingly it was empty. Twenty years ago we’d have clustered with all our mates and gone through the motions described above. Where have all the wrinkly drinkers gone? Maybe they’re all at home terrorised by the new high heeled screeching set. They need an example. Come on, oldies. Let's show youngsters how to get pissed properly.