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  • Writer's pictureRichard Irvine

ROCK OF AGES

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

By Chris Stride




If there ever needed to be proof that us baby-boomers are very much alive and kicking, you only have to look at the line-up of musicians entertaining us through this season of summer music festivals. At Glastonbury Sir Paul McCartney, 80 (so actually a war baby rather than a boomer) was joined by Bruce Springsteen, 72 and David Grohl, a youthful 53. The event had also been host to Jarvis Cocker, 58, and Robert Plant, 73. The Waterboys played Glastonbury too, with founding members Mike Scott, 63 and Steve Wickham ever present in the line-up. Over in Hyde Park the Rolling Stones gave a performance lasting nearly two and a half hours, a set bursting with energy and musicianship. Driving it all were Ronnie Wood, 75, and Keith Richards, 78, with Jagger, also 78, out front, moving, strutting, singing with his powers undiminished. These events were not a sentimental trip down memory lane for the ‘Darby & Joan’ club. The artists performing at this summer’s festivals range from old favourites, Elton John rocking away at his beloved Watford, the very ‘current’, Phoebe Bridger at both Hyde Park and Glastonbury, and newcomers like Vista Kicks at Hyde Park. Similarly the audience encompassed all generations of music lovers from the young to the distinctly mature. As a ‘third-ager’ myself, and lucky enough to be present at the Hyde Park concert, it was a pleasure to be part of an event that was so inclusive, both on-stage and in the audience. The truth is, I don't feel any different from the way that I felt fifty years ago. Admittedly, when reclining on the grass, I scramble to my feet slightly less nimbly than before, but in essence I carry on with my life as I have always. When out and about it is often a shock to glimpse, when passing a window, the reflection of a grey haired older person. Is that really me? Actually, if anything life as a ‘third-ager’ is more interesting, more involving and more exciting than when a little more sprightly. In work you are less likely to be blind-sided by the unexpected because you have encountered similar situations in the past. Decisions can be easier to make because you are informed not only by the ‘now’ but what you have observed in the past. In discussions with colleagues, you can bring to the table a contribution that deliver sounder outcomes arrived at more quickly because you have been there before. As a person, you are unlikely to feel that you are under as much pressure as you were when younger. The years of examinations, the years when you have children at home straining family budgets., the years of stepping up and being counted upon. Such times can be amazing and rewarding, but they are tough too. Surviving and getting by can be adventure enough. As a ‘third-ager’ those pressures are past. But you have been shaped by the experience. Because the Boomer generation grew up benefitting from the newly created Welfare State, they have gone through life enjoying health and fitness that previous generations did not As a result, we ‘third-agers’ are still active with plenty of ‘vroom’ left in the tank. But we are also aware that life has its limits. All of us will have lost friends and contemporaries and many of us will have survived serious illness. This brings a sense of ‘carpe diem’. We want to live life to the full, to contribute our experience to the present and continue to have new adventures, while we still can. Many of the people I have interviewed shuddered at the prospect of a retirement home. Images conjured are of old people, passively seated being cared for and patronised. Maybe that will come to us one day, they said, but not yet. Sadly, on the rare occurrences when we see people of more ‘mature years ‘in the media this is the way they are shown: incapacitated fossils of times gone by. And, research shows that we don't like it. Therefore, it was refreshing to see a commercial for TK Maxx the other day. It was about women’s empowerment, breaking out of the restrictive box of how women are expected to behave and just being ‘me’. What I especially like about it was the range of women portrayed, young through to old, all being ‘me’. It was about being a woman, and nothing to do with how old they were. So, rock on Mick. As the lights dimmed after the last encore and the rain began to fall, I had spent a fantastic day, just being ‘me’. Written by Chris Stride

Contributing columnist at A3A Agency for the Third Age


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