In a shameless attempt to get some free publicity, an insurance company recently released the results of a study it had commissioned among 2,000 of its customers, asking them what they considered the telltale signs of getting older.
(And just to prove I'm not susceptible to PR stunts, I'm not going to mention the company involved.) As well as the physical signs of ageing - losing your hair from the places you want it (your head) and getting it where you don't want it (your ears), and groaning whenever you bend down - there are, apparently, many more cultural and psychological indications that you are, asmy friend Robert says, reaching that point in life's journey when you fold away your tray table and then put your seat in the upright position. These include everything from listening to The Archers to joining the National Trust and from complaining incessantly to driving slowly. There were 30 such signs and, apart from joining the Women's Institute and becoming a parish councillor, I was depressed to find that I could tick most of the boxes. (I haven't succumbed to the appeal of The Archers yet, but it's surely only a matter of time before I decide to take an interest in the latest thrilling twist in the daily saga of Tom's sausages.) Anyway, it all made me wonder whether anyone has ever done a similar survey, about the tell-tale signs of being young. Like, for instance, saying "like" all the time. Or ending your sentences on a high note, as if you were Australian. Or not knowing how to make a cup of tea. Or indeed how to load a dishwasher. Or finding endless repeats of Friends fascinating. Or not being able to watch endless repeats of Friends, unless you have Facebook open on your laptop and you happen to have your mobile phone handy to text. And you're incapable of writing a simple text without using an acronym LOL. And you always say "soz" and "tomoz", instead of sorry and tomorrow. And the word "whatever" is too long for you, so you have to shorten it to "whatevs", or even, for the super-busy young person, "evs". Oh, hold on... Damn! I've just discovered that the most indisputable sign of getting older is finding the things that young people do irritating. See you tomoz.
Simon Kelner is Editor-in-Chief of The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and iReuse content