It’s taken an age for me to even get started on this editorial. After nearly ten years of cobbling together these words of wisdom I’m clearly running out of inspiration. Of course, it doesn’t help that these days I have to keep editorials bland and free from anything which might upset anyone I know. Several times people who know me personally have read previous editorials and recognised (or thought they recognised), some anecdote or other as being based on real-life incidents from my life which involved them. That’s the trouble with people – they can be very literal. Many acquaintances seem to have trouble in grasping the concept that ‘Doc Sleaze’ is essentially a fictional character and that, whilst some of his adventures might draw upon incidents in the real life of his creator, when presented here should be taken as fiction. Just because, for instance, ‘Doc Sleaze’ was offended by something done (or not done) by his off-screen friends and acquaintances, it doesn’t mean that my reaction to a similar event occurring in reality was the same. God, this is getting hopelessly complex, isn’t it? As this editorial is signed off by ‘Doc Sleaze’, it begs the question of who I (the person referring to themselves in the first person and describing ‘Doc Sleaze’ as fictional, whilst writing his editorial), actually is. Obviously, ‘Doc Sleaze’ is a pseudonym, an alias I use on the web, in order to protect my real identity. Not that I think I’m in danger of assassination or anything if my real name is revealed. It’s just that employers and potential employers have been known to do web searches of employees’ (or potential employees) names. Needless to say, I suspect that some of the stuff I publish might not go down too well in some quarters. However, as well as simply being an alias, over the years ‘Doc Sleaze’ has taken on something of a life of his own. Certainly, he often expresses opinions that I wouldn’t dare voice, and he’s a damn sight ruder than I am. Not to mention more aggressive. He knows no bounds where bad taste is concerned and is fearless in his pursuit of sleaze and sensationalism. The Doc is also far more egotistical than I am (in public, at least), not that he has much to be arrogant about – he’s a purveyor of low grade smut. Although, of course, he’d really like to be editing a hard-hitting investigative journal. Which is why he spends so much time complaining about lack of traffic, and claiming that he’s really proud to be running a radical ‘underground’ site.
One thing the Doc and I do share is a birthday, which (as I write this) is looming once again. The peculiar thing about ageing is that you never feel that different on the inside – it’s just the outside which gets old and decrepit. And that’s the problem – we judge each other on appearances so much. We see someone with, say, grey hair, and we immediately make a whole load of assumptions as to what they do, what music they listen to, what they watch on TV and what their attitudes might be – all based upon socially-determined preconceptions about age. If you are over forty you can’t listen to chart music, for instance. Indeed, only recently we had the BBC Trust chastising Radio Two for attracting too many ‘young’ listeners. How dare they listen to music society says they have to be middle aged to enjoy? Really, isn’t it a bit pathetic to try and differentiate radio stations purely on the basis of an age demographic? Shouldn’t they be differentiated by the type of music and programming they carry? Anyway, getting back to the point, whilst I agree that there’s nothing worse than would be trendy forty-somethings who try to be ‘down with the kids’, I find myself increasingly frustrated by social expectations of how I should be behaving baaed upon my age. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to listen to music recorded after 1984? Why shouldn’t I still be producing an irreverent would be ‘satirical’ web site? Why shouldn’t I still be happily single? That said, I do find myself increasingly befuddled by some aspects of modern culture. I mean, Dizzee Rascal, what’s that all about, eh? Don’t get me wrong, he seems a nice enough bloke, but his music is just shit. Yet everyone says he’s a musical genius. I also increasingly find myself wondering “If I do or say this, will it make me look like a dirty old man?” – you’d be surprised how often I decide it will, so I just keep my mouth shut. It’s a rule I even find myself applying in private – if I watch Skins on E4, for example, I find myself feeling like a peado. It’s a sobering thought to realise that you are old enough to be the grandfather of most of the cast.
I used to think that I was more tolerant than my alter ego, Doc Sleaze, but as I grow older I’m beginning to wonder. I’ve certainly grown far less tolerant of people in general. They really are a pain in the arse, aren’t they? I wouldn’t mind them so much if they didn’t continually try and invade my space, usually on the pretext of ‘being sociable’. As it happens, I’m bloody anti-social. I like being on my own. Mainly on account of the fact that most people are such utterly thoughtless, irritating bastards, who feel it necessary to fill their every waking moment with inane chatter. Sadly, we live in an age when everyone seems to see it as their right to voice their opinions, no matter how ill-informed and downright wrong they are, as loudly as possible and at every opportunity. I can’t turn on the TV or radio, look at the internet or even walk down the street without having my ears assaulted by their drivel. One thing that age has taught me is that most people talk altogether too much. Indeed most of the time they are just talking, and saying nothing. The fact is, that as I get older, I increasingly feel that I’ve said everything of significance I want to say. Mind you, that conclusion might well have been influenced by the fact that nobody ever seems to listen to what I’m saying any more – they’re too busy talking themselves. So there you have it, another editorial cobbled together from my random ramblings. The key question is: did I actually say anything, or was it all just noise?