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

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

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Personal Finance Editor: Cutting out the middle man could spell disaster for employees and consumers alike

Simon Read
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch  

Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes tell you what to think. Don't let them

Memphis Barker
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week