One of the greatest songs ever written, which I confess I’ve referenced before in this very collection, is Eels ‘Things the grandchildren should know’. Why? Well, have a listen; but if you don’t have time, or are on the train or something where noise is frowned upon by your fellows, a quick precis of why follows:
It is searingly honest, crushingly downbeat, but one of the most hopeful songs in existence today, recounting how what we have is the most precious thing we can ask for. And it includes the wonderful line “I have some regrets, but if I had to do it all again, well it’s something I’d like to do” which strikes me as being a fair epitaph. Anyway, please let E tell you instead of me.
So, what are the big myths that I think my grandchildren really should be apprised of before they get to my increasingly-advanced age? I’m going to steer away from the whole ‘having babies’ thing – I shall disabuse them of that when it actually becomes relevant.
But what is there:
1) Don’t sweat the small stuff is a great sentiment but in reality it is the small stuff that often overwhelms, as when it all clubs together it becomes big stuff, so don’t feel bad if you do disobey this oft-quoted commandment;
2) Lots of things need cleaning that you would never have believed need cleaning. The interior workings of dishwashers, for instance; and the waste tube from washing machines – learn this now, it’ll save a lot of angst later;
3) Insurance is rubbish and often doesn’t pay out, but it is worth it for the times it does;
4) Staying up all night isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s worth doing it a few times just so when you get to my age and the only time you do it is when an L demands it, you can say that you have;
5) Tequila is never a good idea, and Aftershock is consistently an even worse idea;
6) Carpets and anaglypta (in the latter case even, possibly, on the ceiling) – you’ll probably live in a house that sports them when you swore you never would, and you won’t be able to afford to change it, so just suck it up and pretend it’s a retro trend…
7) When I was little and my mum got to thirty-five-plus (where I am uncomfortably sitting right now), I assumed that she knew absolutely everything there is to know. Now I realise that the roadmap remains hazy, you just have to carry on feeling your way – but actually, that’s okay, embrace the chaos.