Music Features

The Culture Bunker #2

Still managing to barely keep up with the Human Race, you'd think Peter Mattinson would find himself concerned with issues such as the trifling matter of war in Iraq. But no, he's instead finding himself preoccupied with the fact that age has kicked him severely in the crotch.


Just over a month ago, my 22nd birthday came and went with a knawing sense of total inevitability. For - premature death withstanding - it was the most pointless birthday of my life. 22. So what?

For those younger then me, enjoy each birthday you have left before that 22nd. They all mean something at least. See, when you're a child every birthday is a momentous occasion. Cake, jelly and friends. Happy days.

Hit 16, those of us already fighting our nicotine addictions can do it legally after now legal sex - but only of the Heterosexual variety, kiddies - and sign up as cannon fodder with the armed forces. Though you may want to hold back on that idea for a while. 17... pass that test and it's Drive, She Said. With 18 we can all submit to alcohol poisoning with a safe conscience, pretend that by voting we're making some difference to the democratic process and marry that boy/girl your parents always hated without having to ask them first.

19 doesn't sound much, but it sounds good and 20 is kicking those teenage blues into touch once and for all. And of course, 21 is the age you entered adulthood in the old days, and still today holds the feeling of truly becoming an adult. And then that's it until you hit 30 and that's not something we want to go into right now.

But it's the details that make being 22 such a 'resigned to fate' experience. Case of point: the first World Cup I clearly remember (1990), England's captain Bryan Robson was only four years younger then my father. In 2002, David Beckham is only five years older then me. And it didn't get better. England actually had a player - Joe Cole - who was even younger then me! Jesus fucking Christ! Where did that come from?

So I finally accepted that I was never going to pull on the #7 shirt for England and win the World Cup with a stunning solo goal. So turn to popular culture as a last resort comfort blanket. Keep dreaming, kid. The same ugly problem rears its head. While the bubbly presenters on Children's TV used to look like your mother's curiously attractive friends. Tune in to Blue Peter now and you see someone you could have went to school with staring back.

Worse still, while your younger self could dream of reaching the places that would bring such figures of beauty within grasp, now the slow realisation sinks in that it isn't really going to happen in this, a world in love with youth and beauty. And guess what? You ain't beautiful and you sure as hell ain't young anymore.

And it gets even worse. One day you'll turn on children's TV, and it'll be your daughter's friends staring back at you but you're too busy worrying about the crippling effects of a mortgage, university costs (both the kids and yours, still) and that car loan you got from Jim Davidson. Age. It's God's biggest way of taking the piss.