The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Don’t Let The Old Man In …

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine about getting old.

Not in terms of age, but attitude.

We were discussing how there are some people we meet who just seem to embrace stepping out of life.

OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic … more they choose to only focus on what is of interest to them, but there’s a seemingly deliberate ‘closing off’ to the things that are new or different or just happening around them.

It’s like they’ve put on a pair of ‘cultural blinkers’ they don’t intend to ever take off. Expressed in how they look. How they talk. What they like. What they say.

Now … there is absolutely nothing wrong with these people. They can do what the fuck they like. But it’s definitely not how I look – and live – my life.

And then my friend said something that caught me off guard.

He told me this story of someone he knew who used to tell him, “don’t let the old man in”.

[I subsequently discovered, thanks to a post on exactly the same subject by Kevin Chesters, it was a song by country singer, Toby Keith, who was inspired to write it after a chat with Clint Eastwood – who was about to turn 88 years old – while playing golf]

Anyway, I found it fascinating.

Not just the turn of phrase, but the implication that ‘stepping out of pop culture’ was, at a certain point, a default setting.

That to avoid doing that required a commitment to not doing that.

With hindsight, it should have been obvious, given – as I wrote in her post last week – my Mum was the embodiment of that attitude.

She absolutely did not want others to define her – or judge her – by her age.

And while that didn’t mean she dressed like some suburban version of Madonna, circa 1984 [or even 2023 for that matter] it did mean she was always open to what others were open to.

She followed young comedians … she went to see new movies … she read modern literature … she studied politics …

She didn’t necessarily like – or understand it all – but she was open to learning about it.

Because in her mind, the best way to embrace life was to have a curious mind, and for her, that meant caring about what others cared about.

And I took that all for granted until my mate said ‘don’t let the old man in’ and then I realised it was a conscious effort.

I distinctly remember her telling me about a time someone said they were surprised ‘someone of her age’ would be interested in a particular subject or activity. I still remember the defiance in her voice when she said, “I don’t want to live by their outdated expectations”.

Now you have to understand my Mum was the opposite of a rebel.

She was a kind, considerate, compassionate person. But in terms of not living up to stereotypes, she was an anarchist.

That doesn’t mean she ever did something she didn’t want to do simply because younger people did, it just means she found things interesting that people who ‘let the old man in’ didn’t.

This was a revelation to me.

Not just because I now realised my Mum had actively chosen to refuse to embrace the ‘default’ setting, but I was doing the same.

Please don’t think I’m suggesting I’m on the cutting edge of anything … but by the same token, I’m also not closing myself off to life either.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say, the older I get, the more open I am to stuff.

Views. Fashion. Food. Music. Health. Ideals. Art. Everything …

And while I originally thought this was my default setting, I’m now realising it’s not.

It’s an active choice.

A desire to stay open and interested.

Being in a young persons industry helps.
Working with international rockstars and fashion gods helps.
Having parents who were always looking forward, not behind, helps.

But it is also my choice. I just didn’t realise it.

Which suddenly explains so much that I didn’t realise till that conversation.

From the things I buy … the multitude of magazines I read … the things that grab my attention … the people I hire.

It’s the realisation that I live by a ferocious, subconscious desire to keep the old man out.

Not because I want to be young. But because I definitely don’t want to be old.

In terms of attitude, not age.

Which is why I now realise people who say others are ‘growing old disgracefully’ have got it wrong.

Because they’re not growing old disgracefully, they’re growing old with curiosity’.

And as aging traits go, that’s surely pretty awesome?

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The Independent State Of Sound …

When I was a kid in Nottingham, there were 3 independent record shops I continually went to.

WayAhead, Rob’s Records and Selectadisc.

OK, part of this was because there were no major record shops in Nottingham at that time – Our Price, Virgin and HMV all arrived [and left] years later – so unless you were happy with the extremely limited range available in Boots, they were your only options.

Not that they were a ‘lesser’ experience to the big chains. Far from it.

In fact WayAhead became my Mecca because it was a pure rock and metal store. The only one in Nottingham … a place that loved the music rather than just sold it. A place – when I look back – that not only helped forge my identity as a teen, but gave me a space where I could feel safe and supported in it.

It’s also the location where I queued up all night just to ensure I could get Queen tickets for their Works Tour. So the memories are deep and strong.

Rob’s Records was a second hand store up a small alley called Hurts Yard.

WayAhead used to be a few doors down, but they moved to a much bigger location when [1] metal music became mass in the mid-80’s and [2] the shop couldn’t fit customers in because too many people were crammed around the Pinball table and Track and Field arcade game that was in the front of their store. [See photo above]

But I digress …

To be honest, Rob’s Records was a shambles.

Messy … cramped … records stacked tight in big boxes and plastic bins placed literally all over the place. But it had cheap records so I’d find myself in there searching for some rare Queen albums or singles… normally after having a fried chicken lunch from the place that was a cut-price KFC in name, cleanliness and taste.

And then there was Selectadisc.

Set over 2 floors, it was the music lovers, music shop.

A dimly lit, warm cocoon that incubated you from the world outside.

In fact, it was considered an institution by record/vinyl fans all over the world thanks to its continued support for new and up and coming bands.

That said I didn’t love it … it loved The Smiths for a start … but it did have a lot of variety. It also had a great noticeboard where people could put up ads … especially for musicians for bands. We found our first singer, Rob Reid, from an ad we put up there … someone who helped give me some of the best times of my teens and who I am still in touch with to this day.

All of these places were like a wonderland to me.

I may have entered from the street, but I found myself on a different planet.

I would spend hours there on a Saturday… listening, talking, looking, reading. Occasionally even buying.

And while Rob’s Records and Selectadisc didn’t offer me the same community as WayAhead … they mattered to me. A lot.

Sadly, only Rob’s Records remain … but what caused me to write this post is because I recently saw a photo of the upstairs of Selectadisc and it stopped me in my tracks.

Not because of the memories it ignited.
Nor because of the state of it.
But because of its size.

Specifically, how small it was.

I appreciate when you’re younger you overestimate size … but this wasn’t when I was a child, I was in my teens.

And even though it wasn’t my fave record shop, I still remember it like it was a Cathedral of Sound.

Maybe it was because it was bigger than both WayAhead and Rob’s Records.
Maybe it was because it was on 2 floors where the others were just on one.
Or maybe it was because it offered me an escape from normal life to a place that was filled with sound and people who shared a similar love to it as me.

There’s never been a place like those record shops for me.

The closest was Funan Mall in Singapore – a whole building dedicated to selling electronics and gadgets.

A place where I could happily spend hours just looking at the latest new tech that had come in from China … where Jill sent me to after I’d proposed so I could calm down from the intense emotions of the morning.

But even then … even with all that … those 3 record shops in Nottingham will be where a part of my soul resides.

A place that was educational, recreational, and experiential.

Society is worse off without these places.

Yes, I know culturally they have been replaced by a bunch of other places – from the barbers shop to the chicken shop – but records shop were more than a place to hang and talk, they were a place where you grew.

So even though this photo of Selectadisc highlights how small it actually was … it’s impact on who I was remains huge.

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How To Feel Old In A Picture …
March 13, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Age, Childhood, Comment, Culture, England

OK, so this only works if …

1. You grew up in England.
2. You’re of a certain age.

But assuming you are both those things, here’s a way to start your week on a low.

It’s amazing these 2 spent over 70,000 hours on television.

Of course, it was from a time when television was 3 channels and finished at midnight.

But still, that’s the equivalent of 2916 consecutive days … 416 weeks … eight years.

To be honest, I always found the young girl, Carole Hersee, a bit creepy – far creepier than Bubbles the Clown who is next to her … so it’s quite reassuring she turned out to be a ‘normal’ woman and not a psychopathic murderer.

And for those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about … it’s the famous Test Card F, which was designed by Carole’s Dad and for British people of a certain age, is a reminder just how old they now are.

Happy Monday. Cue: Evil laugh.

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Your History May By Ugly, But It’s Yours …
November 23, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Age, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Music, Nottingham

Recently I was reading the Nottingham Evening Post when I saw a pub I knew, was being knocked down.

To be honest, I was more surprised it’s taken this long, because it always was a shit hole.

The food was shit.
The decor was shit.
The service was shit.
The clientele was shit.

It was a venue with almost no single redeeming feature.

In fact the only thing that surprised me more was that it looks just as shit today as it always did … and I have not stepped foot in that place for 36 years.

THIRTY SIX. [So yeah, I was underage when I stopped going there, let alone started]

And yet, hearing of it’s impending destruction made me nostalgic and a teeny bit sad.

Because for all it’s horrificness, it played an important part in my history.

This was the place I played my first ever ‘grown up’ gig.
This was the place where the council told us we were too loud.
This was the place where a biker gang told us to play certain songs or face the consequences.
This was the place my parents first saw me perform.
This was the place that got me addicted to gig life.
This was the place that introduced me to new characters and friends.
This was the place that started – even though it lasted just a few years – a life and career that was beyond anything I could ever imagine.
This was the place I walked the bridge between kid and adult. From food to nightlife to feeling a member of a gang to believing – and seeing – a new life and world was possible.

So yeah … The Forester’s was always an undeniable, unmitigated shithole.

But it was also my university for life of adventure.

I’ll always be grateful for it.

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Goals …
November 1, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Age, Attitude & Aptitude, Individuality

This is the actress Keeley Hawes.

While I have enjoyed a lot of the television and movies she has appeared in, I don’t know much about her other than she is an accomplished actress who – having read a few interviews about her – is smart, self-aware and considered.

[Yes, I know her husband is also an accomplished actor, but I don’t want to diminish her individuality or achievements, because – let’s be honest – most women end up being seen as someone’s wife or mother rather than their own person]

She recently talked about changing her career.

Not because she doesn’t love what she does … nor because she isn’t as successful as she hoped … but because of COVID, she has started to re-evaluate what she wants to do in her life, especially as she will be turning 50 in a few years and that feels a pivotal age.

I totally get that.

As I’ve said many times before, the problem with getting older is you keep discovering more things you want to explore and pursue, however you have become painfully aware you won’t be able to do all of them … not least because as you do one new activity, they reveal even more things you want to chase down.

But while the temptation is to just stick with what you know to not frustrate yourself, the impact of time does create am anxiety you can’t entirely shake off. So while I acknowledge it’s an absolute privilege for anyone to be able to change direction in the quest for more life experience … it’s likely something most people feel.

None of which has anything to do with this post.

The reason is when I saw that photo of Keeley, I just thought it was amazing.

She looks so cool, elegant and rock n’ roll all at the same time.

I can only dream of being that, but then I wear birkies so I don’t stand a chance.

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