The Power of Behaving Badly

Baby boomers broke all the rules. Why should they change now they’re older, says Terry Tavner

Despite the occasional twinge and the inability to get in – or out of – a chair without an audible ‘ooof’, the ageing process has (so far!) looked on me with great kindness. I’m not actually embracing it, you understand, and you won’t hear me banging on about how marvellous it is to clock up yet another year, but it seems to me that there might be some benefits to getting older.

To start with, there’s my £5 Monday afternoon cinema membership plus 10 per cent off all drinks – how deliciously decadent it is to loll in the back row nursing a cheeky glass of sauvignon blanc, knowing everyone else is at work. Another newly discovered joy is whizzing round the country on my Senior Railcard (affectionately referred to in my house as the ‘old fart’s pass’). 

But maybe the biggest benefit of advancing years is waving goodbye to the doubts and angst that haunt so many young people – they definitely haunted me. Yes, getting older is actually quite liberating – and what’s not to like about that? After a lifetime of worrying about other people’s opinions, I’m now channelling my newfound devil-may-care attitude! 

I think that having grown up in the Fifties and Sixties, our generation really did change the world. We ushered in a new kind of music that united young people globally; we protested for the right to live in the way we wanted and to challenge the decisions of authority. We were – and still are – a generation of rule-breakers. I feel obliged to continue carrying that torch, and so do many of us.

Even the rock stars we grew up with are still rocking on. A few years ago, I saw Neil Young at Hyde Park. It was a warm evening, the Godfather of Grunge delivered on every track and the wine flowed. As the night wore on, it may even have overflowed. There was singing, there was dancing and, going home, there may have been a little stumbling. My daughter still refers to my ‘night of shame’. Thank God she never saw me at the first Isle of Wight Festival in 1968, is all I can say!  

This new confidence also means I’m less likely to put up with rudeness or shoddy service. One evening, I met three friends for supper in an Italian chain restaurant. From the start, we were invisible to the beautiful young staff who were far more interested in flirting with each other. We were shown to our table – in the basement – where precisely no one else was sitting. No, no, we’re not having that, thanks. So, we complained and held out for a ground-floor table. Our punishment for the rest of the night was to be ignored. I had to ask for the menu at least three times, by the time the wine arrived, we’d almost become teetotal and even when we asked for the bill, we were made to wait. And wait. And wait. And so, we put on our coats, scraped back our chairs and slowly and purposefully walked towards the door. We did it to prompt some action from the staff but we were actually outside the restaurant before the manager caught up with us.

We explained how and why we’d walked out without paying. He really didn’t understand. I was so angry with the way we’d been treated that I wrote to the chain’s MD. His apology was immediate; his solution, a voucher for dinner for four at a branch of our choice. Result!

So, yes, it is great fun to grow old disgracefully. But you need companions to enjoy it with you. I am blessed with having many lovely, fun people in my life, but I am also encumbered by a few whingeing life-sappers who’ve latched on down the years. The new me realises they’ve just got to go. Life is too short to give them house room! I know, I know, you think I’m horrible, don’t you? I promise I’m not – I just want to spend more precious time with the friends I really do cherish. This is our time, people, we’ve earned the right to behave exactly as we want – and if that’s deemed to be bad behaviour, well, so be it!

Photo Credit: Alessio Pizzicannella and Mirrorpix