Hope I Die Before I Get Bored (so many books before then, let me live to 104)

part of the ongoing “a blog post a day” project, Grouchy Grammarians beware, I have not time to proofread. I await your corrections. 

Last night, I contemplated my baldness under the harsh lights of the dressing room. A few lonely follicles, the survivors of a genetic apocalypse, mark out where my hairline once stood. And it did stand, I had a quiff that could have offered shade to families on a beach. 

It is rare I am bothered by my hair loss, it was unlikely that I would dodge the shiny pate bullet that was displayed on the mantelpiece photos of pipe smoking monochrome male relatives. My looks have not been my career, a weave is not required. I am finding it difficult enough having a manufactured tooth over the nervy, stump remains of a collapsed molar, a wig, weave or cricketer’s hair plugs would force me to disassociate myself from my own scalp. The problem is more my wife’s than mine, she will have to occasionally walk around with a bald man, and I don’t think she foresaw that twenty years ago when she saw me with a hairdryer and lacquer.  It is a pity that hats don’t suit me. 

Why is hair so important. How often do we see a bald man in a lead mainstream film role despite the fact that many clearly are in reality? Sean Connery was out and bald when not on the film set, yet still he had to rug up whether he was a Russian sub commander or Doctor in Africa, that time they even gave him a wig with a ponytail. 

Just as breast implants are part of the natural unnatural way of things now, the weave and plug is warmly embraced by stand up comedians, authors, actors and raconteurs. i find it hard to trust a stand up, especially if they are one of those “edgy” ones, if they are also disguising their skull skin with nylon strands or orphan hair or whatever it may be. I think i would have read more Anthony Burgess books if he hadn’t had that ghastly combover. 

Why do we shy away from the aging process? I have aged badly. I am wrinkled and grey but I am healthy. This is what I am, a human being progressing through years and physically changing, we should get used to such things. 

Perhaps the horror of aging may be lessened if we saw more old people in films who were just old, agile of mind, but not daubed and dyed, not 67 years old men doing action flicks and pretending they have drunk from a fountain of youth only available in the Beverly Wilshire hotel. If we are lucky, we will all become old one day, we should not see that as an alien thing. Maybe that is why it is so easy to patronise the old, to infantilize them, to start talking down to them and smiling sweetly as if they are no longer part of an adult world. They have gone beyond that, pop a rug on them and offer them cocoa and a biscuit. 

There was an elderly couple on yesterday’s train. They had the informality and ease with each other that suggested decades of love. She was talking about Peter Higgs as he read his Dirk Bogarde book. Then she brought up Banksy. “Ahhhh”, I thought, “they are talking of graffiti artists, how charming” and then I thought, “of course they bloody are and why do I think that is idiosyncratic. Why should being in your 80s relegate you to costume dramas and tutting about the ways of youth and protest. I think of the marches I’ve been on and seen the broadest of age ranges, the conversations I’ve had with people brought up as Marxists on pre-war estates, the engagement with changing culture that can shame some of the younger generations of now glam-less rockers, or mohican-lite punks or second summer of lovers who lost their love in a messy divorce case. 

There is a generation or two that is strewn with polymaths, brought up to engage with politics, history, science, art and sculpture, is it the generations since that can be in danger of being more insular and unimaginative in their focus? I hope not, for there is no reason to be. We have much to learn and can be guided by people who’ll throw that rug right back at you and say, “let me tell you about the Aldermarston marches.”

Whenever I see headlines about celebrities “growing old disgracefully”, I shiver a little. “57 year old TV celeb shows he/she’s still got it with a brand new tattoo”. Nothing screams more of “arghhh I am not old I am not old, I will not be old, let me play young forever” than a sudden tattoo or nipple piercing. If they want to “grow old disgracefully”, then let’s see a little bit of insurrection next time a politician in comfy on their Daytime chat show sofa or phone in show. Let’s the disgrace of a furious, hungry mind not beaten into shape by consumer demands and the toxic properties of their tooth whitener. There is no escape from aging, but there are ways of eluding banality, but that takes more of what is within than a preened and sucked exterior.

I am touring with my Darwin/Feynman show – Manchester, Cranleigh, Braintree, Colchester soon, plus shows with Josie Long and Grace Petrie see HERE

Cosmic Genome has had a regular update, now with added Jim Al-Khalili, Josie Long, Mark Miodownik and 68 more HERE


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12 Responses to Hope I Die Before I Get Bored (so many books before then, let me live to 104)

  1. Phil says:

    You’ve been hanging around with Brian ‘Dorian’ Cox for too long.

  2. rose says:

    What is really bad is when my 22yr old son sees someone who is 40ish on TV and refers to them as that old guy,or the old women.

  3. ashleyjamespryce says:

    Aging is a bizarre thing. I’m only 30 so still young, yet I’m back at uni and everyone is ten years younger- to them I’m old, and they let me know it!

    It’s an odd thing. When I was a teenager I saw 30 year olds as being serious, sensible, adult and mature. Now I am one I wonder how I ever had this bizarre thought. My family, with the exception of my maternal nan, have all lived well into their 80s so if I can sort out being a border-line alcoholic, chain smoking tubby then I can expect to see 2060. That in itself is strange. I cant imagine being old, but then at 15 I couldn’t imagine being 30.

    Aging is one of those inevitables in life, yet we seem to see old people as being alien, different. We think they’ve always been yelling at people to get off their lawns, forgetting that actually, all the stupid, fun or embarrassing things we do, they also did and probably still do. Theres no reason 70 year olds should be confused by technology, they’ve grown up in a changing world- 70 year olds were about my age when they were playing pong.

    I find aging to be one of the more bizarre things that happens to us. Though on the plus side, based on genetics I should have a lovely flowing head of hair when I reach my zimmer frame days.

  4. Why don’t we have lessons in school on the spectre of middle age? I’m sure we all remember the ‘hair in funny places’ lessons preparing use for our teens but no-one thinks to mention the hair in even funnier places that starts to creep over us when we hit our late 30s or the odd vocalisations necessary to bend down and pick things up by the time we get to 40.

  5. John Morhall says:

    I am a follically deficient septuagenarian who is fortunate enough to have a wife who likes the feel of my velour pate, and who encouraged me to adopt the look (2mm) in the first place. I no longer require visits to a hairdresser, preferring a weekly self administered once over. Hair may be a woman’s crowning glory but for a man: who cares? I have yet to submit to the urge of tattoos or body piercing, perhaps as they might attract attention to other less attractive physical features, or because they represent a further stage of my undevelopment. A hair piece would be anathema in more senses than one

    I am fortunate that my brain still works after a fashion, and I enjoyed spending time last year with twenty something year olds on campus taking another degree. My lack of hair was unnoticed, or at least did not attract comment, whereas a comb-over or plug transplant might.

  6. John White says:

    Whence the hat hesitance, chapeau shyness, titfer intolerance? If you want to get ahead, get a hat as somebody once said (although there’s not much point getting a hat if you haven’t got a head, as some wiseacre retorted). If nothing else, a suitable head cover keeps the most valuable of ones extremities warm in winter or sheltered from harmful radiation or other extraneous pollutants in summer.
    And they grow on you, although not usually literally.
    As for A. Burgess, I’m sure he had a good head of tonsorial turf when he wrote most of his prolific literary output.
    He was a book critic for a long time before he began producing his own. He was forever finding fault with typeface, paper, binding, Dewey decimal classification, etc., etc. Just as well really, as he would otherwise have written too much, or “1985” would have been “1979” which would have missed the point somewhat!
    Enderby ended all that, and he did write some rather good stuff. So try to overcomb your comb-overphobia and add a couple more years to the 104 (it would take that to get through Burgess’s cannon, particularly if you include Finnegans Wake before you read A.B.’s explanation of it!).
    Keep on doing what you’re doing what you’re doing.
    John White (66 and three quarters, allegedly going a bit thin on top, Banksy fan, still sound in wind and limb)

  7. Growing Old Disgracfully – i know a song about that…

  8. Popeye says:

    in your case you actually look better now than you did ten years ago when you were compering the Screaming Blue Murder club in Dorking 😉

  9. ps2007 says:

    On the other hand, it still amuses me ridiculously when kids give up their seat for me on a bus – and I am not even paying!

  10. CELKali says:

    Maybe you should watch Father of the Bride Part II. It’s one of the few so-called chick flicks I admit to liking, but damn does it sound like you need it. Even my dad likes it.

    Oh, and long, thick hair is overrated. It gets fucking everywhere. It’s itchy no matter how well you take care of it, and it always finds a way into your ear when you’ve got headphones on. I feel and look like a 12 year old. I’d get mine cut short again if I had the money to keep that up. I used to have an actual buzz cut, and when it would get a tad longer, dye it black with blue tips and spike it up or give myself a mohawk.
    I miss my mohawk….
    It takes forever to dry, too. Jesus christ, I’ll take a shower and my hair will finally be dry six hours later, unless I tie it up, then it’ll never be dry.

    For what it’s worth, dude, you ain’t aging half as badly as you think. I think that’s a compliment. I’m not real good at those. I tried.

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