(Planet Me)
Monday, January 14, 2013
Not Giving In

“Trying to avoid a Mid Life Crisis”, was my new years resolution, when asked.

“Women On The Edge Of A Mid-Life Crisis” was showing on Channel 4. I wondered. Would this perhaps connect with me? Knowing a certain number is arriving. I'm getting tangibly older. I'm not seen as young anymore. But experienced, with a proven track record, and other things. Culture has become somewhat of an irrelevance to me in many ways. What is happening with Strictly Come Dine On X-Factor With Me? (And do I care?)

No, the programme did not. It felt to me as if instead of dealing with the specifics of the symptoms of, and how people with it, it was largely a case of people moaning myopically about their particular lives, and not about the wider impact of age upon the individual. I tired quickly of seeing millionaire women in sports cars moaning about others, where really those millionaires were just lucky in terms of opportunities and timing.

Hair receding. From above it looks as if someone has taken a lawnmower to the middle of my head. I never particularly cared for my hair but the idea of going bald – and irreversibly so because hair grafts are expensive, and for liars – means I have an appearance I have no control over.

If I was in U2, I could wear a hat.

And after all the progress of the 1997-2010 era, it feels to me as if Britain is now going backwards politically, culturally, economically. There is an empathy defecit. Is this it? Is this what life is meant to be? Offices, trains, supermarkets, commuting, bills, interpersonal backstabbing and bullshit? Is that IT? How come this is as far as we are getting?

Personally, I'm feeling very much as if I, and many of us, are being played and gamed. Set up and treated as lab rats, Go Home, Do This, Spend This, and the degree of personal control we have over our lives stretches as far as clothes, hair, sexuality, and culture. Employment options – overall- are for many people so narrow that for millions you have the choice largely to toil in anything that will pay you, or starve. When I was last unemployed, it occurred to me that whilst discussion of working in a job that is meaningful is nice, one that pays you enough money to live is more important. We have all been gamed : trapped inside a whale we cannot escape – of inflation plus fare rises, marginal taxation, childcare, Child Support abuse, punitive taxation, all of which have the combined effect of insiduously and, with a wilful cruelty, impoverishing everyone, moving the middle ever close to the bottom, redistributing the spread wealth of the country from the 'wealth creators' and 'strivers' – the workers and salarymen - to the affluent. And here we are.

I fear – am terrified – for the future the next generations will inherit. I know that a Prime Minister I will probably die under the jackboot of may not have even been born yet. If he is, he is probably about 4 years old. Culture is picking up and making famous/infamous people much younger than I : not that I expect to be famous, but that the cultural discourse is aimed at, and reinforced, by people whoa re often too young to have lived a life worth living, who lack experience or articulacy, who say nothing worth listening to – especially in an area such as the bubblegum of pop – where I hear nothing worth communicating, just a vapid celebration of something. Is it me, or is culture and pop music getting dumber? Popmusic feels like being trapped in a room, having a one way conversation with a child. Is this it? Is this my place? To settle for a culture made of mediocrity, and a politics made of cruelty?

Mankind is worth more and is better than this.

With the New Year unashamedly moving forward, Christmas and the New Year seems already a distant memory. After holding on all year for the promise of Christmas, this one was a struggle. I've been battling to make it to a long deserved Christmas break, and yet, when we get that far, what happens? Relatives in hospital. A house full of sick people sleeping all day long, and what felt like nine solid days of caring for unhappy, unwell children. I was exhausted. That sense of gnawing hollowness that eats at you when exhaustion triumphs. I did not rest. No weight lifted from the shoulders.

The last time I had a Christmas this appalling – where my then wife spent three days with a face like the end of the world arguing with me constantly whilst on a free holiday in Tenerife, then managed to slip over and make her ankle swell to the size of a tennis ball – was a doomed make or break holiday. It broke us. Not that Christmas.

You may think that with two ex-wives, I am some kind of prolifigate serial romancer. This is about as far from the case as I can get. Nor am I argumentative or belligerant. All I ever wanted was peace and harmony, and I let a lot of stuff slide because it really isn't worth the fight. Pick your battles wisely. Many wars do not need to be fought. My philosophy is more that we are all here on this planet, together, here and now, and there is nothing we can do to change this basic fact, so it seems wise to make our combined existence on this planet as peaceful as possible.

I'm getting older. I'm not giving in.


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