Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday December 05 2005

Today I had lunch with friends at the 606 Club, while listening, or more accurately being deafened by, a band fronted by a trio of gospel singers.

The singing was excellent, for a football stadium, or even a large church.  Sadly, the 606 Club is a small basement and is about the size of one floor of a suburban house.  Two ladies and a gentleman bellowed frenziedly into microphones, accompanied by a clutch of men at keyboards, guitars and drums.  Had I been on my own I would have scuttled away within five minutes.  But you can’t just run away from a group of friends without some kind of explanation. I’ve got to go, it’s too loud.  What?  Too loud.  Can’t hear you.  It’s too loud!!  Etc.  This will soon end, I kept saying to myself, and alas I kept being wrong.

image

The songs were of the Jesus Will Save You, The Lord Loves You variety.  Many seemed like nice tunes, and I wouldn’t have kicked them out of my stereo.  But, they were too damn loud for my classically reared ears.

From time to time, the lady singers would speak, in ways that the many people present who were enjoying themselves really enjoyed.  Quite a lot of what they said concerned the fact, which it undoubtedly is, that life can be full of unpleasant experiences, but that you just have to hope that eventually these experiences will come to an end, and then life will get back to being nice. You’re telling me lady.  I sat there bootfaced, or head in hands, occasionally tapping along, at the end clapping politely, dreaming of Menuhin conducting Beethoven symphonies in my nice quiet kitchen, with its nice controllable volume control.

When the bellowing was particularly bellowsome, I held my fingers over my ears and made up song titles.  When Jesus Shouts.  My Ears Are Bleeding Lord.  Turn It Down Turn It Down.  When Microphone Feedback Came Among Us.  And I took photographs.  That’s not a song title, I took photographs.  (And I wasn’t the only one, by the way, since you were probably thinking I was and oh dear how annoying.)

image

Those two singers are Simon King and Michelle John Robinson.  Tracey Campbell was the other, but she seldom allowed herself to be properly lit, and I never got an even half decent shot of her.

As I get older, I become less and less willing to have experiences which are merely different, such as the above definitely was.  Why is this?  Is it because the old brain is simply less open to new experiences?  Are old people inherently boring and unadventurous, because of the nature of their decaying brains and bodies?  Maybe that is part of it.  But I think that time has a lot to do with it.  When you are young, you have a few ideas about how to spend your time, and infinite time to spend.  So, you can afford to take risks with your time, because even unpleasant experiences may lead to good things.  When you reach the mid-life crisis, which I am now way past, the equation reverses itself.  You now have only so much time, and have meanwhile accumulated a great many ideas, many of them excellent, about how to spend it.  This being the case, being bellowed at for two hours by people who either are religious maniacs or who are doing a terrifyingly good impersonation of religious maniacs (or whatever might for you be an equivalent experience - perhaps being lectured in a quiet and logical voice by an atheist), is not something you want to do.

I am open to new experiences.  Look at how keen I am on blogging, of which I knew nothing five years ago.  But I now only welcome new experiences which are truly welcome.  Unwelcome ones which pass the time must now be avoided.  Note to self.  When invited to an event, remember to ask: will anyone be singing into a microphone?  If yes, then no.

PS: If I am right about why older people aren’t so adventurous, then maybe we should all be rather less nervous about the consequences of life extension than many of us are.  The big fear is that life extension would fill the world with old people.  But it wouldn’t.  It would merely change the definition of old, and would transform the way that people aged, say, fifty, would then behave.  If I knew I was going to live to two hundred, I would now be a far more adventurous soul than I am, because I would know that I had far more time ahead of me to explore new things, while still fitting in all the things I already want to do.

Come to think of it, maybe a planet full of adventurous hundred year olds would be far worse than the one we already have, fuller and fuller every day of unadventurous hundred year olds.  Now I am really depressed. At least blogging keeps oldies indoors and ignorable.