Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You know you are getting old when ...

A colleague posted an update to Facebook to say that she'd been descended on suddenly by in excess of twenty relatives, none of whom had heard of Jimi Hendrix.

I shall pause, now, while you get your breath back.

How? How, I thought, and quite apart from one's ars being longer than rita's vita's brevis, could one not have heard of the apparently-not-quite-so-immortal James Marshall De Hendrix?

It brought to mind an occasion in, oooh, 1987, I think it was, when I found myself as a graduate student in the college bar, explaining to an audience of undergraduates that there had been, in living memory, a coin with the face value of three old pence, which was bronze and dodecagonal.

A three-pence piece. Yesterday

My young audience, to a man (and woman) refused to believe me. "You're making it up," they said. It was only when I had called in the college barman to arbitrate that they believed me (the college barman being the only person there present older than me, and seen, of course, as the ultimate arbiter and fount of all knowledge and ... er ... whatever it was).

It was then that I decided that I really should finish writing up my thesis and get a job.


  1. In Brighton there used to be a flea-market on Saturdays where you could buy old coins such as Thruppeny bits etc. I recall I bought my then girlfriend one in 1991 or 92, I think I paid about 20p.


  2. Reminds me of a recent xkcd comic strip:

    They will insist on getting younger!

  3. Oh, it gets better. The longer you go, the more defective your sense of "when I say this, you'll know I'm *really* old." Listened last week to my biochem prof make a Spinal Tap reference, then say something selfconscious about how that would date her. The children looked on blankly, and I realized Spinal Tap was 25 years ago. Before anyone in the room except me and Teach was born. Including the grad student TA.

    She also mentioned Reye's syndrome, and asked if anyone there had taken aspirin as a child. No. Except me. It was delicious, too, that orange St. Joseph's baby aspirin. Fell apart beautifully in your mouth. Surprised more kids weren't poisoned. I don't think any of the kids had heard of Reye's, though I do, because the news of it sent my mother digging through all the bathroom and linen closets to rid the house of the new childkillers.

  4. Spinal Tap is 25 years old? Excuse me while I adjust my pacemaker and make a futile grasp for the zimmer.

  5. Yeah. Do the Twist, baby.

    My skin's been getting thicker ever since a summer bio class with some pleasant, bright high schoolers at my table, who one day -- shyly -- asked me what the '80s had _really_ been like. I did the whole blink/silent-internal-collapse routine, then told them people aren't allowed to have parties that glamorous anymore. They were satisfied and so was I.

  6. Back in 1996 (yeah, 13 years ago) I was on sabbatical in California and happened to be in Berkeley. A former neighbour of my parents said that their son was studying there and we should meet. I hadn't seen this chap since he was a knock-kneed kid of nine years. We agreed to meet in a restaurant, and I kept a lookout. I was in trouble, as my search image was for this gangly little kid, when what arrived was a handsome young man. As we sat down to dine, I told him to stop me if I began any sentence with 'When I Was Your Age' or 'I Remember When...'. But I did insist on paying the bill.