One of the indicators that you are getting older is being able to travel across the length and breadth of Scotland free by bus, but not by train, even though our train service will effectively be nationalised this week. Another indicator is when you realise that nearly every single advert you come across, either through television, printed media or even social media, is targeted at someone other than you.
Advertising and marketing have become a young people's game and perhaps it was ever thus. That is apart from the segmented (widely used marketing word) adverts aimed at us. You know, the ones offering a gentle pace of living by taking your holiday by river cruise somewhere in deepest Germany, or the cruise round the Med, with a mediocre collection of 'past their sell-by-date' entertainers.
And that is only if you have plenty of cash. If not, you will be brow-beaten into opening an insurance or saver account, designed to pay for, at least, your funeral and hopefully a lot more besides. The extra to be distributed to your progeny in order that they can purchase baubles and shiny trinkets as they have seen advertised in the media, none of which they really need. Consumerism must prevail. Also, when are people going to cotton on to the fact that the cruise is marketing's way of telling you that you are too old now for beach holidays and you should be leaving that to the weans, big and small?
A word to the recipient of these windfalls: when you yourselves have had your own children and are deep into your 40s, it will quickly dawn on you that you are now on the other side of the fence and the cycle continues.
I accept that there are some benefits of being older, ever diminishing though they may be, such as the revival of record shops on the high street, driven by the renaissance in vinyl sales chiefly by us mature ones building and increasing our record collections. So successful have we been with this, that a major name who disappeared from the centre of Edinburgh a few years ago recently returned in triumph to Princes Street.
Anyway, you might be wondering what brought on all of this vexation? Well, it is down to one of my neighbours. On Friday night, I was heading out to the Open History Society situated in the heart of the New Town, here in the capital. I was walking out along my street, resplendent, I thought, in the bright green jacket my wife had bought me for Christmas. It was a lovely night and my first real chance to wear it, matching it with the trainers also gifted to me on the same occasion. 'Where is the dog?' was the opening gambit, a common salutation from this person, followed by, 'you are looking swish'. Before I could say thank you, I felt the cold steel of the follow-up: 'have you been borrowing your sons' clothes?'
Come to think of it, maybe it is not marketers that are the enemy as we get older, but our own demographic. Though the double denim I see this person cutting about certainly does them no favours.
Talking earlier about segmentation, as a regular at the football, I think I have seen an opportunity to create seniors areas, a bit like the family viewing area in stadiums. The seniors areas could have comfier seats. When the game takes a lull, we can take a wee nap and with the added bonus you could also test your heart function when and if you wake up with the crowd roar when a goal is scored.
And Another Day
Bleached by snow and bomb blast,
Pale sunlight scoured of colour –
A vanished luxury.
Footsteps, markers of a heartsore trudge
There and back, there and back,
The basket empty,
The air siren-drenched,
All human warmth wrenched
From body and soul.
Ransacked, the vocabulary of distress,
Gone, the little ones,
With a toy,
And the cat.
A voice somewhere,
Muffled, layered against the chill,
The choking dust, smoke, black fumes.
A neighbour calls, waves.
Come! Come quickly!
We are all down here!
A hand takes the empty basket,
It joins the others
In the darkness.
Stands the clock at ten to three,
And is there anything for tea?
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