COLM O'REGAN: Opening Lines

IT’S a measure of the success of the radio advertisement that I’m mentioning it at all. You know the one: “Dear 30-year old me.” The pensions ad. How much the man in the ad annoys me says more about my insecurities about the future and my beard than anything else.

Even so, I’m enjoying picturing him as an object of dislike. I see a sixty/seventy something-year-old sitting there in his chinos and Eccos, writing letters to the paper complaining that it’s a disgrace that the Irish language is not held in more esteem and it’s ÉIRE, not EIRE, how he has no objection to halting-sites in principle, it’s just that ‘Uppermiddleclassington Heights’ is a greenbelt area ...

He irks me and others because no one likes being judged by the elder generation.

Partly because of the suspicion that the older generation is probably right, but also because criticism with the benefit of hindsight is hugely dangerous.

Don’t be telling me to change my life from your vantage point of 2055. Have you even SEEN Back To The Future? Marty McFly nearly destroys his own present existence by meddling too much in the past. I’m sorry Zurich but your experiments with the space-time continuum are irresponsible at best.

Supposing 36-year-old me is reading this letter from the future. Instead of investing in an exciting start up at the Web Summit with some name like NounVerb, I use the money to buy one of your pension products that leaves me with a couple of percent extra.

I could have been on the pig’s back when NounVerb is bought by AdjectiveSpelledWrongly and my possible shares are worth a mint?

But no, while all my peers go around eating chia seeds at their ‘hackathons’, I’ll be munching disconsolately on slice pan with no butter.

Zurich isn’t to blame. They are merely the latest in a long line of cross generational letter writing but thus far it’s mainly been in one direction. I think we should write a letter to our future selves.

The first thing I would say to 2050 me is: I’m sorry. I didn’t get any pension. Well I did. One from the silly days between 2001 and 2008. It was worth enough for you to get your piles seen to but little else. You still have to work and don’t get a chance to sit in your tracksuit bottoms all day like I swore you would. But there’s so much fun stuff to live for.

Get a job where there are young management consultants buzzing around enabling this, implementing that and streamlining the other. Every so often take them aside and remind them that we’re all going to die anyway and their project timelines and milestones ultimately have no meaning. Offer them a biscuit. Some of them will see the light.

Start conversations with people at the bus stop about the weather. Write letters to the paper complaining about bin lorries – society will expect you to.

Even if you’re not eating, but still feel like making a chewing noise, do it. I’m not judging you. But do get a nice trousers. Ould lads trousers never fit. Get one made.

Don’t be wasting your time roaring at the news, the youth of your day are definitely worse than I am but it’s pointless because the Government is worse too. Anyway, as you’re going to need your voice you might get work giving out to your younger self. But take it easy on me.

Oh, and old timer? I’m keeping the beard.


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