Thursday, 9 March 2017

Songs in the key of old are easy listening

Home Truths column in The Australian, in which I advance my pet theory on music and ageing. 
For years I have advanced a pet theory whenever the conversation swings to music or ageing, or ageing music. Jason’s first law of techno dynamics states that you start to get old when you close yourself off to new music. I watched it happen to friends from as early as their 30s, with the musical shutters slamming down and them being content to wallow in their personal easy-listening golden oldies playlists, their inventories of coming-of-age anthems, getting-laid grooves and breaking-up-is-hard-to-do laments.
A jobbing DJ until recently, I made an effort to keep abreast of new sounds. Not so my mates. I would smugly note another old codger in the making as glazed eyes and bored expressions greeted my enthusiastic encomia about the latest rebirth of cool. Namechecking this left-field genius or that must-listen new album won no kudos. Ah, but let them stick a dime in their life’s jukebox, baby, and watch the flood of emotion take them over.

Donald Trump is to blame for everything

Home Truths column in The Australian, in which I realise bad luck and trouble can be laid at the feet of one tiny-handed speaker of post-truth to power. Blame Trump! 
After a 2016 of moderate to extreme suckage on both a personal and global level, 2017 dawned with a rosy optimism and a feeling that things could only get better. It was time to put to rest a year where heroes dropped like flies, zeros rose like champagne bubbles and my health and wealth barometer plunged sharply southward, and go forth into the new year and prosper.
But suddenly, in short order, everything has gone to the dogs. A blissful visit from my overseas-dwelling girlfriend was cut brutally short when her mother collapsed and was rushed to hospital for heart surgery. I was confronted with having to deal with the reality of divorce for the second time around. And then to top it all off, from a reasonably busy street outside a major shopping location in broad daylight, some bastard with a boltcutter stole my bike, the one gadget in my life that had brought some happiness and a sense of freedom (after a shaky start with a bad crash), allowing me to begin to get fit again after a bout of pneumonia.

Hang on, your call is important to us

Home Truths column in The Australian, in which I go to war with the illuminati of idiocy otherwise known as Optus. Eventually the forces of good (me) triumph over the forces of darkness (Optus). But the struggle was long and hard and somewhat sanity-sapping. 

Dear Optus,
In a previous article in this newspaper, I called you “an Illuminati of idiocy, your unblinking eye staring from a pyramid of pure stoopid”. It now appears I was too kind.
Our short and turbulent relationship began when, arriving back in the country after 25 years abroad, I acquired a prepaid mobile SIM card at the airport. Why you, Optus? Perhaps it was the slick branding, with your patriotic green and gold logo and your insistent importuning in the affirmative: Optus. Yes.
It’s not that I object to your company being owned by people from a place William Gibson famously described as Disneyland with the Death Penalty (yes, Singapore, I mean you). It’s not that on consumer websites, thousands of people seem to dislike you even more than I do, with a proliferation of “I hate Optus, worst phone company in the world” posts, or that you secretly cut broadband users’ speed, or that you broke the hearts of English Premier League fans with your pallid promises.

It's a sticky wicket once you hit 50

This column in The Australian, was meant to be a light-hearted and somewhat exaggerated look at hitting the big five-oh. But boy did I get under the skin of the 70-is-the-new-50 brigade. It was the number one read piece on The Australian's website that day, and the almost 300 comments are more entertaining and revealing than the column itself. 

In a little over a fortnight, I’ll be turning 50. And let’s be clear about this — 50 is not the new 40, or the new 30, or this season’s orange or the new black. Fifty is just 50, and it sucks. Half a century, the big five-o, call it what you will, the plain fact of the matter is, barring exceptional genetics and some luck, your life is way more than half over and there’s not much to look forward to except a long slow slide into decrepitude, forgetfulness and aching in the places where you used to play.
More people you know, and more of your heroes, start dying. You talk about the television shows and movies you grew up with, and get blank stares from younger folk (call yourself a millennial and I’ll punch you on the nose). You might still feel 21 inside, but you get out of a taxi in slow motion and you have become strangely invisible to the opposite sex (unless you are turning 50 and a squillionaire, in which case, party on, Bruce Wayne).