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  • Philip Bryer

Like Vintage Wine, or Old, Like Cheese

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

My dad used to cast a critical eye over Top of the Pops, and remark upon The Stones, “There he is, old rubber lips,” The Kinks, “Is this the kinky one?”, and later, when overhearing my records, “Who’s this then? Ned Zeppelin again?”

A few years ago, when TOTP was still going, and Take That were going round for the first time, I heard myself querying their attire. “Anoraks? Can anyone tell me why they’re wearing bloody anoraks? Indoors, and in July?” This was around the time that I spotted a Yorkshire and England fast bowler, that’s a Yorkshire bowler, mind, with a stud through his eyebrow, and I nearly had an attack of the vapours which would have impressed even the most lovelorn and sickliest of Victorian heroines.

Which set me to thinking about the ageing process, and a few things that I find myself doing nowadays. Since it’s a while since I was 21, there are 21 of them:

Keeping the empty Xmas Quality Street tin for the garage, where it will, “Come in handy”.

Quality Street

Saying, “Oh dear,” really quite frequently.

Getting used to the sight of a 2-inch-long grey hair which has apparently sprouted overnight from an earlobe, and if it hasn’t, wondering how many people noticed it before I did.

Taking the opportunity of falling asleep whenever it’s available.

Being painfully aware of the consequences of drinking liquid in any quantity after 8PM.

Waking up at 4AM and wondering whether my retirement income will mean the enforced forgoing of Sky TV or wine. Or both. If both, being prepared to stay awake until finally getting up at 05:52. Like I usually do.

Getting quite excited in Boots at finding the biggest bottle of Gaviscon I’ve ever seen.

‘Wrapping up warm’ from late September to early May.

Being unable to drink more than 2 pints of beer before dinner and still have much room for dinner.

Deciding that yanking out that lonely hair which is forward of the receding hairline – rather like a fish stranded at low tide – isn’t going to make a great deal of difference.

Becoming reluctant to go to the doctor in case I end up in hospital and never come out again.

Enjoying the reassurance afforded by the continued presence of The Rolling Stones.

Rolling Stones

Starting to worry round about March that by Xmas I’ll have seen another year off.

Disapproving of Radio 2’s modern music policy (all of that sub-standard 80’s fare).

Despairing of football. Mostly due to diving, outfield players wearing gloves, and TV overkill. Also, the absence of Dave Mackay, proper muddy pitches, and 3PM kick-offs.

Bafflement at tattoos, body-piercings, and brand-new jeans which are already worn out at the knees.

Thinking of getting up a petition to bring back National Service for hipsters.

Looking back rather fondly at music I didn’t much care for at the time. Like disco.

Spending more time on the NHS website than can possibly be healthy.

Going postal on the slugs and snails in my vegetable patch.

Walking down to the newsagents in my slippers. I aborted this trip after just a few paces, but if ever there was a warning about things yet to come...

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