Fifty-denial - why I'm not down with da kidz - Mo Fanning Author
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Fifty-denial – why I’m not down with da kidz

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I don’t sound right using words like totes

I headed this piece as being  ‘down with da kidz’ with a knowing nod to irony. I’m about as far removed from being down with anyone under the age of 40 as it’s possible to get. On the rare days I stiffen my sinews and spend a day in an actual office with actual people, my fifty-denial shows. I hear words like ‘totes’ and ‘amazeballs’, and if I so much as ask what these words mean, I’m accused of ‘throwing shade’. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a writer. I believe that language should evolve. Rules are there to break. But why the need to deliver things in cod-American accents. I’m looking at you random gay man who equates catty with camp. Ridic, right?

I’d refuse to see video games as a life choice

Me: So, 32-year-old man who I’m fairly sure has a mortgage and children, what did you do over the weekend? 

32YOM: I hung out with the guys, then played Legend of Zelda on the Switch

Me: Is that a video game?

32YOM: Yeah.

Me: And you played it with your kids or something?

32YOM: No, totes on my own, dude.

Me: Kill me now

I pity people whose only way of landing a shag is online

When I was young and desperately horny, I understood the gay dating game. Basically, every Friday and Saturday you put on your best t-shirt and drank your body weight in ‘Continental lager’ until your confidence levels were as high as your standards were low, and then you ‘copped off’. The subsequent hangovers led to an exchange of (landline) phone numbers that you’d never call and a walk of shame. Unless you’d played smart and put aside enough cash for a bus ride home.

These days, decisions on ‘life partners’ are made on the strength of retouched photos. You allow two seconds before a swipe left or right. Or – if you’ve embraced the world of gay dating apps – before you dismiss the dick pic and opening gambit of ‘Hi’. Gay culture today consists of walking past people you’ve ‘cruised’ online and not recognising them. At least in the olden days, you got to bond in the special clinic over who gave who what, or talk through bad shag judgments. 

I remember bank managers

As a student, I lived in overdraft. This was long before the banks and government teamed up to rebrand enforced poverty as ‘student loans’. Each branch of a bank (remember them?) had its own manager. And that manager got to pass comment on your financial conduct. As a second-year trainee teacher I received a curt note that suggested I was making poor life choices.

My bank manager had caught wind of a meal for two at what his letter termed ‘a fairly upmarket establishment’. He was right, but I’d met the man of my dreams. There was everything to play for. We’d be together forever. Dinner at Chez Jules was an essential piece of the jigsaw. I still wonder what his name was. The man of my dreams, I mean, not the bank manager. That sanctimonious shit cut me off at the Safeway checkout six days later, and deserves to rot in hell.

I can’t understand when Britain became so right-wing (and why nobody cares)

People are stupid. I’m a person. I’m stupid. Ergo all people are equally dumb. But come on … Brexit? A third of the nation got to voice their opposition to something or other in an advisory referendum, and suddenly it’s the ‘will of the people’. I still shake with anger as I recall the morning after the vote when I ventured to Lidl and the woman in front of me asked the check-out girl when she was going back home.

‘Back to where she came from’ in the words of knuckle-dragging cousin-fucking racists. 

The girl looked shocked.

The smug cunt turned to me and smiled. ‘I can say this now,’ she said.

When did this country become so damaged? Sure, I know the banks are to blame, and the Bullingdon boys left everyone asking how the hell we got into this mess, but I always thought of Britain as a nation that mucked along fine.

That vote was a protest. People wanted to blame someone or something for the years of austerity, and Europe got it in the neck. Europe, not the EU. Nobody really has a clue what the EU is.

And the real thing they hated? The immigrants. The Romanians who dare to gather in parks to sit and talk and innocently pass the time of day. The Polish builders who undercut the shoddy overpriced work that was once the right of the white van man. The Bulgarians who … happen to be Bulgarian.

My mother tells me how when she goes to the doctor, everyone speaks in a foreign language. That’s because they need health care. They don’t have jobs that won’t let them take an hour off to get five minutes with a GP who they’ll only ever see once in their lives. A GP who is weighing up whether to continue to support his community or ‘go back home’. I can say that now, that woman said, and it was her badge of pride. And don’t get me started on Trump.

I don’t get how anyone who came to this country as an immigrant can be anti immigration

One more thing, how did we get to a point where second or third-generation immigrants voted for Brexit. Or vote for  UKIP or their slightly less blatant wing the Tory Party? 

I’m never entirely happy not wearing a tie in important meetings

Just a year ago, I wore a tie to a meeting. In London. With important people. One of those important people leaned back in his chair, adjusted his designer glasses, scratched his bulging belly and looked at me. ‘Why are you wearing a tie?’ he said. I went defensive. I played it for laughs. It goes with this outfit and I dropped by breakfast down my shirt,’ I said. He laughed. Secretly I died a little more inside.

It’s not that I ache for the formality of days gone by. I want my wardrobe choices to work for me. I don’t want to be belittled because I choose to work to a certain standard. I’m not a time traveller in disguise. I’m fine with open plan offices. I shop online. But when it’s an important meeting, let me feel like wearing a tie is allowed.

I worry about pensions

This is the part of me that I hate. When I was 20 (or let’s be honest 40), it didn’t occur to me that I might ever be too old to work. That I might have to scratch by on very little money. If I’m honest, I sort of assumed my parents would kick the bucket and leave me lots of money and a house I could sell to buy a yacht and travel the world.

Now I’m fifty-denial I see that pensions matter. I hear the young-uns all around me moaning that they’[re being made to put money into a pot they’ll ‘like literally never see’. They think 67 (or 70 as it will soon be) is so far away. It isn’t. It’s closer than you ever dared believe.  And saving for that day is sensible. Just typing those words makes me want to throw up. It shouldn’t matter. Why is it so wrong to want to spend every spare pound and penny on a new jumper or sweets or a gym membership I’ll never ever use. 

In an ideal life, I don’t have to do anything

‘I don’t know how I ever managed to do a job, I’m so busy’ says my mother who to my eyes fills her day with pottering. She’ll go to B&Q for her Diamond Discount every Tuesday, Lidl every Wednesday, and Sainsbury’s twice a week on Thursday. On alternate Thursdays, she has her hair done. ‘It’s all go,’ she insists. 

I used to adore being busy from the moment my eyes opened until I fell asleep reading something in bed. I hated the quiet times. The boring bits. I had a fear of being bored. Now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be. I’m already making plans for semi-retirement, even though it’s ten years off. I want to please myself because the world around me no longer pleases me.

I’m happy to go to bed by 10, in fact I worry when I don’t

Ten o-clock was going out time in years gone by. When I lived in Amsterdam, the very thought of hitting a bar much before midnight was – quite frankly – ridic (as the kids of today say).  Now I plan my evenings with the glorious prospect of bed at ten in mind. I get twitchy if we start to watch something on TV that might end near eleven. Not that I sleep when my head hits the pillow. I’m obsessed with reading the news. I need to know what state the world is in. I have to troll Twitter and see how much better other lives are through Facebook.

But bed by ten is my comfort blanket. My way of coping for now. Something inside tells me that’s going to change soon. I hope it’s right. 

Conversely I’m not sure being in bed after 10 in the morning is a good thing.

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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