Terence Blacker: A generation that won't go quietly

Share
Related Topics

It seems that Steve Fossett died an adventurer's death. During his 63 years on earth, he had sailed impossible voyages, broken records in hot-air balloons, swum the English Channel, climbed a few mountains, including the Matterhorn and Mount Kilimanjaro. Then, last September, while apparently looking for a site on which to make an attempt at the world land-speed record, he flew his plane into the side of a mountain in the Sierra Nevada, California.

There have been various theories as to what happened. His single-engine aircraft was not designed to fly at heights. There may have been visibility problems.

Now, with the discovery of the wreckage of Fossett's aircraft with human remains nearby, murkier claims have been made. Will Hasley, who helped Fossett write his memoirs in 2006, has spoken about a "subconscious death wish". There had been tensions at home apparently – his wife had hoped he might concentrate less on breaking world records now that he was in his sixties and spend more time with her.

There were money problems. Although he had reluctantly accepted sponsorship, he resented the idea that the name of a beer company or an airline would be attached to his achievements.

Accident or suicide, the way Steve died is entirely consistent with the way he lived – brave, uncompromising, egocentric. When one of his family commented that at least Steve had been spared becoming an old man and having to give up his adventures, she was on the right track.

For those who came of age in the Sixties, as Fossett did, the defiant anthems of the time may have been about hoping to die before you got old but most lived on and are now facing the possibility that their days of adventure will – or at least should – soon be over. They are responding to the prospect of old age rather differently from their forbears.

It is usually a futile exercise to analyse particular decades as if human behaviour conforms neatly to historical chronology, but the post-war generation which grew up in the late 1950s and early 1960s represented a profound change of attitude. It was impatient with the past and had a heady sense of its own youthful power.

Now, just as they once refused to behave in the socially approved manner of young people, they are bringing the same bolshy egotism to old age. The world is telling them to slow down but they are not ready, and may never be. The forever-young generation has failed to mature. It has no time for the dignity of age, for general appropriateness and seemliness.

That can be tough on those around them. In his new memoir, Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family and Me, Cosmo Landesman writes with painful good humour about how his parents, Jay and Fran – counter-culture A-listers in the Sixties – have grown old with a singular lack of grace, both engaged in crazed self-promotion in the hope that they might hit the big-time in their dotage.

A few years older than the baby-boomers, the Landesmans may be giving us an idea of what will happen when the children of the Sixties generation grow truly, undeniably old. Many of them will continue to adventure, breaking world records, touring in bands, declining to moderate their sexual excesses (take a bow Ronnie Wood and Max Mosley) and generally misbehaving. The love and peace generation, with its defiant greed for life, is unlikely to go quietly.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before