Interviewing musicians is always interesting.
They tend to be open, engaging people who are happy to share personal stories.
However, there can be an occasional dance around asking their age. It’s usually a light waltz though, trying to make it inconsequential enough that they’re relaxed about the reveal.
It’s rare that they refuse.
Strictly not dancing
That did happen recently, during an interview with a local songwriter. A talented, articulate man, he was open about so many aspects of his life, but when it came to the numbers, his dance card was firmly shut.
This wasn’t vanity, he said, but a firm belief that that if they knew how old he was, the younger audience wouldn’t be interested in listening to what he produced.
It was clear that it was something that he felt pretty deeply.
I suppose unless you’re Seasick Steve or the late lamented Liz Smith, there are few people in the entertainment business that have really made maturity work for them.
There are only so many rooms at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
That great philosopher, well Cher, once said, “If I could turn back time, if I could find a way…” and I sympathised, even if, when she said it, she was sitting astride a giant cannon, wearing less that I wear to bed.
She has never denied using every possible outlet to if not turn back time, then mitigate its effects.
The perception is, even away from people in the public eye, that ageing has a greater physical toll on women. I’m talking about aesthetics here as opposed to general health.
Surgical scaffolding and proper plumping
And coming back to the entertainment industry, women do get scrutinised when it’s clear they’ve decided to have “work done” – the surgical scaffolding and plumping in the right places that they hope will keep them looking fresh enough to at least be cast as a groovy mother.
It’s at this point the character actors sit back and thank goodness they have never been the ingénue or lusty young buck.
However, when we makes sweeping statements like “men get better looking as they get older” it’s likely that we’re looking at pictures of George Clooney, who had something of a knitted hairstyle and rejected Duran Duran threads earlier in his career.
Tell that to the men in your life, who feel more Phil Collins than Sean Connery when hair loss kicks in, or are growing a beard of bees to hide a multitude of chins.
It would disingenuous to say I haven’t been conscious of age.
There have been many times that I’ve used it as an excuse. “That didn’t happen because I was too young” or “that won’t happen because I’m too old”, but in general I’ve been pretty sanguine about the fact that the clock keeps on rolling and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Several years ago, when I was interviewing Lorraine Kelly, she pointed out that I had similarly high cheekbones to her, so I would always retain something of a youthful appearance.
Really, who’s going to argue with Lorraine in these matters?
Without sounding too smug I’ve been lucky. Good genes have meant that I’ve always been taken as slightly younger than I am, but recently, like most of us, the accidental selfie has given me the vapours.
More frequently, while watching performers of my age on TV, or seeing pictures of school friends on Facebook, I’ve been heard to say (out loud mind), “I don’t look that old – do I?”
I recognise that to my other half that’s a question on the scale of “does my bum look big in this?” but in a way it’s rhetorical and I’m patting myself on the back for inheriting my father’s face.
Let me have that please. I never ask the bum question.
I know my bum looks big in things, simply because it’s a big bum. Then again, with the increasingly popular Brazilian butt lift, where people have fat injected INTO their buttocks, some people would pay good money for my bum.
You know what I mean…
The golden age before selfies
Anyway. I’m fortunate to have been a child in the pre-selfie generation.
I genuinely didn’t think about how I looked as a child. I was more bothered by someone getting better marks than me in an exam than being thought of as the pretty one. I think a tiny element of that has remained.
I’m not saying that when I pull my skin back slightly I don’t care that it takes years off me.
We’ve been programmed, genetically and culturally, to see youth as vital and beautiful and desirable. I’m also not saying that I would never consider a bit of light refurbishment at one point.
It’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin, whether you allow it to give in to gravity or decide to do a Cher. That’s “turn back time”, not sit on a massive cannon.
By the way, I’m 54.