As I ran out of grandparents at the age of 16, the only time I ever see old folk is when I’m over-taking them on a motorway, they’re in my audience laughing at filth, or in any park. Yes, my parents are getting on but in my mind, they’re still 39 and 42. Clearly something significant happened that year. I think it was the hula hoop holiday in Carlisle that has cemented my parents as that age forever. My sister was away with school and so I was, for the first and last time, an only child. That’s enough to make any youngest child do a little dance and then wait for applause.
And my parents don’t seem old. But do any? Only those who’ve been 82 since school. You know the type. And regardless of my love of cardigans and a decent pair of slippers, my brain still functions like the 37-year-old it is. Unless I’m tired, when I am 12 again asking anyone to tuck me in.
Old is not a personality type. Just something you occasionally feel when a nine-year-old policeman pulls you over, or you find your first white beard hair. The double whammy of signs you don’t know who’s top of the hit parade any more. I tried to describe Laura Mvula to my fella the other day. He didn’t know my reference point of Emeli Sandé so I called her “the new Elkie Brooks”. He smiled and went back to watching Piranhaconda. A classic.
I watched the ITV hidden-camera comedy Off Their Rockers for the first time this week and I’m so sad I’ve missed so many episodes. It’s a joy. Even from the announcement at the start that some language may be offensive to younger viewers. Like “please” and “thank you”. Wonderful stuff. Just the sight of an old lady asking a man in a Chinese medical centre to help release the tension out of her hand by pulling her finger (cue tromboning wind and gratitude) makes me smile. I admit, I was a little tense at the start of that scene in case she came over “all Prince Philip”. Thankfully not.
Off Their Rockers has no victims. Only members of the public being shown how normal and joyful the older lot are. An old man singing a Lady Gaga song or two old ladies asking a group of lads to judge who is the more attractive. The show brings out lovely responses in the public, too. After all, who would turn a pensioner away when asking for help? It does make me wonder if every time a nana talks to me about the weather or why I’m not married, I’m being filmed. And I wouldn’t mind at all.
The programme shows old people being funny and flirty. And farty, but that’s never been in question really. It’s nice to see you don’t have to grow up if you don’t want to.