You know you’re old when…
…the writing of Helen Fielding ceases to be merely mildly amusing pulp and becomes relatable. I’m officially getting old. Properly grown-up, not fake studenty grown-up, despite the fact that I live with my parents. That’s borderline socially acceptable anyway because I did move out for 6 years and I only came back to save up for the impending adventure. At least that’s what I tell myself. You begin to be old when people who deliver pizzas are systematically younger than you. Anyway; what got me pondering particularly about the perils of discovering yourself to be closer to 30 than 20 is the fact that i-to-i (the company that’s organising my Thai teaching internship) has set up an online forum for everyone to chat on; share excitement, anxieties, TEFL tips, that sort of jazz. This has now expanded into a facebook group, which is obviously a thinly-veiled opportunity to stalk and judge your new ready-made friendship group before getting to meet them face-to-face. What I have discovered from this is that I am definitely the Grandma of the group. The rest are shiny new graduates; as yet not embittered by dead-end jobs, student loan repayments and council tax.
There are certain elements of social history that my precise age-range was amongst the very last to enjoy due to the phenomenally rapid rise of mobile phones, iTunes and the internet which happened in the latter half of my teens to early 20s. I remember the days when if you wanted to speak to a friend, or even worse, a boy, you had to pick up your landline phone (preferably when your parents weren’t around) and call their parents, whilst all the while fiddling nervously with the curly wire which you would always eventually manage to kink and then get in trouble for. You’d then have to be super-polite whilst you ask to speak to your friend, or worse, you think it is your friend and say something like “whaaaaasssupppp mother-fucker!” only to find out it is actually their parent, older sibling etcetera. Teenagers today don’t know how lucky they are getting to side-step all that. There is also of course the curve-ball; that one friend known universally as Jonesey or Hampster or Bug or whatever the hell else it might be, and its only whilst their mother is politely asking who you’d like to speak to down the Bakelite that you realise you have absolutely no idea what their real name is. Then you finally do get to speak to your friend only to have your dad pick up the phone in another room and start bashing buttons and saying “hello? hello?” confusedly into your conversation until you have to bellow furiously out the door. It all sounds so archaic now; like when your parents talk about shillings and how scary the first ever Doctor Who was. Even though it really wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things the other interns will probably have dodged that, hell their parents probably don’t even talk about shillings and Morris Minors either.
The first single I ever bought (I’m too ashamed to tell you what it was) was on cassette tape from Woolworths and cost 99p. That right there was a historical sentence for the grandkids; “what’s 99p grandma?” Making a playlist consisted of spending hours on a Sunday afternoon listening to Mark Goodier playing the week’s top-40 and pressing play+record at the exact right moment on a tape recorder the size of a breeze block until it got snagged up and you had to get a pencil to wind it all back in again. Me being the grandma of the group is also highlighted by the fact that I’ve reached an age where I hate pretty much any music that a teenager of now might like. My childhood sounded like Seal, Garbage and Ace of Base; it’s just wrong that someone born in 1994 can legally drink. Urgh.
Anyway, rant over. 85 sleeps!