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Growing Old: 21 Ways to Spot You’re No Longer Top of the Pops

Music’s Ever-Shifting Soundscape

The times they are a changin’…

“I can’t possibly go back to CDs!” This is what I heard myself wail, panic stricken, as my much-loved iPod Classic finally died on me, never to retrieve those carefully curated playlists ever again.  I was bereft. What would I do without being able to access 5,000 songs wherever I went? How would I decide what to listen to if I couldn’t just stick it on ‘shuffle’ and let my music make the decision for me?

It’s amazing what we get used to, just as it’s amazing how quickly those same things become obsolete (the iPod Classic no longer warrants Apple’s time or support). Yet, it’s not so long ago that I was liberating myself from the weight of a dusty vinyl collection by scouring the endless, glittering racks of CDs in the likes of Tower Records and Our Price, slowly amassing my compact, shiny replacements. Ah, those were the days, you briefly sigh misty-eyed. But already music has leap-frogged well beyond CDs to surpass even my newly-fashioned comfort zone of digital downloads. Now, it’s all about streaming with Spotify, YouTube and the like. The world of music, like everything else, is constantly reinventing itself.


So how will we keep up?

Well, perhaps we’re not supposed to. It’s all part of the natural order of things, like birth and death, growing up and shrinking down. There comes a point when it’s just too much effort to keep ahead of the curve. Could it be time, therefore, to step back from the race, happy to watch the next generation forge ahead as you groan into your favourite armchair, with your iPod Classic and that not so smart smartphone on which no one calls you anyway because they all prefer the clarity of landlines? Let’s see.

It’s only as smart as the person holding it.

You’ll probably know when you have got to “that certain age” if any of the following resonate.

  • You own an iPod Classic and still think it’s the best thing ever.
  • Face time for you involves sitting down in a coffee shop with someone sitting opposite you.
  • You haven’t watched BBC 3 since your TV got automatically re-tuned and the channel magically disappeared.
  • You keep banging on about Windows XP being the best operating system a computer could have.
  • You listen to Radio 2 because “all my favourite DJs have moved over there.”
  • You fall asleep in front of the TV.
  • You don’t text/Google/play obsessively with your phone while watching or falling asleep in front of the aforementioned TV.
  • You’ve started making an “aah” sound as you sit down.
  • You suddenly need more than one pair of glasses…all of which can then be misplaced throughout the house so that they are never where you need them to be.
  • You realise it’s been more than five years since you saw a band live.
  • You still own a cheque-book even though it’s been another five years since you actually wrote one out.
  • You don’t fully understand ‘the cloud’ and it secretly freaks you out when Google wants to ‘relive your memories’ by showing you photos you thought you had deleted.
  • You have items of clothing (which you still wear) that are older than your friends’ children (and woe betide those same children if they then declare your boots to be cool because they are “vintage”). And I could also add ‘using a phrase like woe betide’ to the list here, I suppose….
  • You think that having a WhatsApp account will keep you young and on-trend.
  • ‘Tablets’ conjures up an image of diabetes medication rather than an Apple iPad Air (which of course you don’t own because you need to sit at your desktop PC in the box-room-cum-study where the light is set up just right if you are going to stare at a screen for any length of time….and chances are your glasses will also be there).
  • You like to be spotted reading on a Kindle for much the same reason you have a WhatsApp account.
  • You think the American TV series ‘Friends’ will never date.
  • You have either never shaved or have recently stopped shaving your pubic hair.
  • The weather forecast becomes all important to shaping plans for the next day.
  • You sometimes do a double take in the mirror because that face just doesn’t match how you ‘feel on the inside’.
  • You can’t confidently use the word ‘meme’ even though you clearly remember that creepy dancing baby appearing on Ally McBeal and once had a ‘Shit Happens’ bumper sticker.


Right, I’m off…

But it’s OK. We are not supposed to stay forever twenty-one. That would be exhausting. At the same time, don’t shut yourself off entirely to the marvellous technical innovations from which the next generation feed. Allow yourself instead to be a little more selective. Oh, and while we’re at it, don’t kid yourself that rock music reached its creative zenith in 1974. It didn’t. Just try and keep one ear out for whatever is new and exciting and that will still allow the other ear to remain firmly tuned to Radio 2.  Music is indeed a metaphor for life – ever evolving, often surprising, increasingly foreign sounding to aged ears. But just remember: you only need to worry when it stops completely.

Now, what am I supposed to do with a broken iPod Classic….?

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