A Short Story About Getting Old

I can tell you how it started, not with grey pubes, but with a trip to Bluewater shopping centre one Saturday afternoon. I’d never felt it before. But it struck me down in a moment I’ll never forget.
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I can tell you how it started, not with grey pubes, but with a trip to Bluewater shopping centre one Saturday afternoon. I’d never felt it before. But it struck me down in a moment I’ll never forget.

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My kids were busy rubbing ice cream into the only clothes left on the rail that my [ex] wife wasn’t trying on. I stood at the shops doorway - too hung over to stay, too hung over to make a run for it. I see a guy about my age walking towards me, I was just thinking how incredibly fit his much younger girlfriend was, when they drew abreast and I realised from their conversation, she’s his fucking daughter!

It might not be exactly that moment for you but it will happen. Grey bits appeared in my stubble, I need glasses, clearly the dam had burst. Of two temptations I’d start to choose the one that would get me home earlier. Symbols of authority look younger every day, policeman call me sir, I’ve got fishing rods older than my daughter’s headmaster.

Fortunately I’ve not turned into Rod Liddle or Melanie Phillips. But things I once thought irrelevant now seem to irritate. I don’t hate immigrants or foreigners but now every interaction with young people seems to reinforce the irrational hatred I feel for them; their whinging nasal inflection, their stupid clothes, annoying music and ridiculous facial hair. Twats.

Take last week:

I’m standing in the street waiting for a cab, dressed in building site clothes, with a large coil of pipe, a fold-up ladder and a toolbox. On the other side of the street, announcing his presence with the distorted bleating coming from his mobile phone, a teenage hoodrat with a particularly annoying bum-fluff beard that grew only under his chin, and a green ball-cap so horrid that even the fans of the team it represents wouldn’t be seen dead in it, is eyeing me up suspiciously.

He starts to call over ‘Officer, officer, whey is you watching me?’

Because you’re a study in cuntishness would have been the truthful response, but it’s seldom a good idea to get into a braying contest with a jackass.

‘Officer, officer what's your badge number?’

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I ignore him

He may have been watching Breaking Bad as he switches to spainglish

‘Ay Federale, what you watching me for?’

I ignore him some more

He's joined by two of his little chums, they cross the road and one of them comes up to me

2nd Hoodrat  [pointing at my pile of tools]

" these two reckon you're undercover, but I'm not thinkin' dat, how would you chase anyone with all-a-diss?

Lackwit that he is he gives a gurgling laugh to congratulate himself on his familiarity with the bleedin’ obvious.

Who says our education system is failing? Michael Gove would be so proud

Thirsty for attention the first hoodrat pipes up ‘He is he's undercover init!

The 2nd hoodrat and I look at beard boy, I’m shaking my head

‘If I'm undercover old bill your mate's a real gangster’

Hoodrat's 2 and 3 crack up laughing

Beard boy tries lamely to win some back with a petulant ‘Yeah, you're funny’

The second hoodrat crushes his hopes ' Nah blood, face it, you been served’

I maybe living in fear of that first  grey pube but at least there is the consolation; age and guile will beat youth and a strange beard any day.