On becoming an old git

The worst delusion of advancing age is a growing conviction that you have valuable life experience. “I know a lot of shit,” you tell yourself. “Kids should listen to me. My thoughts are worth hearing.”

Which is, of course, bollocks.

To pick a random example: Marriage.

Anyone married to the same person for more than about three years knows that marriage is bloody difficult. Endless negotiation, constant compromise… it’s like brokering a non-stop, all-hours Israeli-Palestinian peace summit. One slip – a missed PTA meeting, a glance at the au pair’s tits – and you’re on the slippery slope to MacDonald’s Dad-dom. It’s relentless.

As with any tricky challenge, you inevitably pick up tips over the years. Some are marriage savers (“Forget the plumber, forget the dry cleaning, forget the upcoming Apocalypse, but don’t forget her FUCKING birthday”). Others, more subtle, are hardly less valuable (£100 worth of flowers isn’t as effective as £1.50 worth presented in a vase – no matter how cheap – which you bought specially. This will get you out of anything. Really).

You inevitably feel that this hard-won combat experience should be passed on. Trouble is, nobody who needs it (ie anyone younger than you) gives the tiniest fuck. They don’t want your brilliant tips and sage advice. a) They think you’re an old cock (they’re right), and b) they have no perspective whatsoever on the fragility and ephemerality of life. They have all the time in the world and they’re bulletproof.

The saddest bit is the clear and certain memory of being exactly the same at their age. Truly the generations are strangers unto each other.

Or whatever.

8 Responses to “On becoming an old git”

  1. Lee Says:

    Not so. I’m totally going to use that vase thing. My flower purchases (which, by the way, I keep deliberately sporadic so as to maximise their impact) have been getting less than the desired effect recently. Thanks.

  2. tom Says:

    cultivate your own garden

    aside from the ticking to-dos off the list, gardening occasionally feels good

    i garden a derelict space on a housing estate. doing it for 4 years. they’re used to me. last sunday, went and did some tidying up. the sun it did shine. and i sang out loud. and the people of the estate said nothing, not a whit of complaint. then out of the bowels of the estate two boys one with a curious impediment known by doctors as a difficulty w learning, and another, a ruffian, came by and helped me.

    and i did feel good about public housing, gardening and living in London, for a bit

  3. Andy Says:

    Be thankful for small mercies – at least you have an aupair’s baps to glance at. My missus recently caught me staring at the cleaner’s sweaty bum crack as she dusted our skirting boards. I was in the dog house for weeks.
    I feel your pain soilman.

  4. Soilman Says:

    Sadly, Andy, I don’t. And just as well. I can resist everything except temptation.

  5. Christina Says:

    I’ll happily take your wisdom! Please!

    Unfortunately, flowers do nothing for my husband. Other suggestions?

  6. Soilman Says:

    A good reminder for me, Christina, about the one-sided and frankly sexist nature of this post!

    I have little to offer wives in the way of marital advice. It’s not hard to think of relatively easy ways to keep husbands happy ;-), but I think wives have a harder time of ‘reading’ their husbands, on the whole.

    When men upset women, they are left in no doubt about it. Women show their unhappiness early and vocally. You know you’ve put your foot in it, and you know you have to put it right (if, of course, you care about the relationship).

    Many (most?) men, on the other hand, show unhappiness much more reluctantly and slowly – if at all. An awful lot of hurt feeling, irritation and general pissed-off-ness can have built up by the time men let on. This is our programming: Don’t show your feelings.

    As a result, the post break-up line “I had no idea anything was wrong” is pretty much a female-only script. I think this is very tough on women, and I feel for them. The hard part isn’t making husbands happy, it’s noticing they’re not.

    PS Having said all that, I do have one gold-plated tip for women married to men: Don’t delude yourself that a ‘sexless marriage’ will work. It won’t.

  7. Christina Says:

    A sexless marriage wouldn’t work for me, either! 🙂

    Thank you for your thoughtful advice!

  8. Soilman Says:

    I’m always a bit stunned by how many folks (men included) allow themselves to believe that it’s OK to stop making love to their spouses… and that the marriage will be fine. They often get surprising encouragement in this delusion from the media.

    Inevitably many folks (but not all) stop having sex in later life, or because of health issues – and that’s fine. But frankly if you’re under 50 and you’re not having sex with your spouse – start. Soon. Or expect the spouse to look elsewhere.

    PS How the hell did Soilman.net become a proxy for Dr bloody Ruth?