Last week I wandered out of my office and was greeted by a man bearing a clipboard. Ordinarily I tend to avoid these sort of people as they have a strange ability of turning a “quick question” into some sort of Paxman-style grilling about your life and how they can improve it. This time however I felt sorry for him, having watched several people totally ignore his wretched pleas, so I went over and partook in his research.
He gave me an assertion that he would ask me one question, just to see my response, so I braced myself for what was to come. No form of preparation could have aided me.
“How much does a pint of milk cost?”
Of all the questions in all the world, why did I have to walk into this one? I buy milk pretty infrequently, and in this age of decimalisation and plastic cartons have no idea what size a pint is, unless it’s in a glass.
“I dunno, a pound?”
I pluckily responded. His face lit up. Here was a financial worker who patently hadn’t a clue what this standard piece of everyday knowledge was. This was just what he was looking for.
“Blimey, where do you shop?”
He asked, rhetorically, chuckling to himself. All his Christmases had come at once, another stick to beat bankers with (I prefer not to refer to myself as a banker, as I don’t really know what I’m doing and get paid a suitably low wage for my ineptitude. Although as a suit-toting posh boy in the city I can see the confusion). Anyhow, I was in no mood to spoil a good headline, so decided to assist him further by responding:
And taking my leave. I look forward to reading about how deluded bankers haven’t a clue about real life and live on cloud cuckoo land. That will make me proud.
Now, ignoring how cantankerously ignorant I am and what an absurd measure of someone’s grasp on reality the whole “pint of milk” question is, it did make me wonder whether or not I really am out of touch these days.
As if to play on my momentary self-doubt, fate capitalised the following day when I tried to simultaneously flip between two festivals on the television.
Music has always been one of the few areas where I have prided myself on having my finger on the pulse, so I flicked between the Isle of Wight festival (largely due to an evil pursuit of schadenfreude – I wanted to see people sinking in the mud, having even less fun than I did when I went in 2009 and accidentally camped next to the dance tent) and the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend.
The next few hours utterly baffled me.
Of the artists performing, the only ones I had any music by were the Charlatans, who have been making music since the Great Fire of London, and Jay-Z. Granted my lack of appreciation of artists like Jessie J (who appeared to have narrowly won a bullfight before taking to stage, judging by the state of her trousers) is mainly due to the presence of these funny-looking hearing devices on the side of my head, but I had so so many questions about the others…
- Who or what is a Rizzle Kick?
- Why do we need Example when Calvin Harris is, to the best of my knowledge, still alive?
- How is that idiot in the hat from N-Dubz, who was canon-fodder on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, seemingly a respected musician?
- Delilah? Rudimental? Who?
And that was when it struck me. I have finally become one of those miserable old gits who just moan about how much better things were in the good old days. Admittedly my “old days” are not even a decade ago, but they’re still seemingly old. I mean, look at the headlining rock bands at Hackney. Biffy Clyro? The Vaccines? They wouldn’t have been fit to string the guitars of the Blur, Nirvana or Radiohead. And that’s before I even get started on the landfill R&B bollocks that spews into the charts nowadays. For the first time in my life, I felt privileged that the Spice Girls were about the extent of the ghastliness in my youth.
Fortunately, the creators of Rock Werchter in Belgium are thinking along the same lines. On Thursday I’m off to Belgium’s premier music festival for the second year running, where the acts will include Blink-182, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Cure, Jack White, Elbow, Garbage and Noel Gallagher. It’s all going to be so refreshingly familiar…
Furthermore, as a European country, they are fully decimalised. Which means no-one is going to ask me how much a pint of fucking milk costs.
So here’s my advice: If you’re feeling out of touch, go to Belgium. It’s like an old people’s home for lost twenty-somethings.
by Harry Harland