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Holland Park Press

Like A Rolling Stone

26 September 2012 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

That year the Beatles released Love Me Do, Elvis Presley released Return To Sender and Bob Dylan produced his first album. One month earlier Nelson Mandela had been arrested and on the same day Marilyn Monroe had committed suicide. The next day Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson fought for the boxing heavyweight world title. I was born – it was 24 September 1962 – and the weather was lovely.

One month later the Cuban missile crisis began and the whole family nearly retreated to the understairs cupboard wearing colanders on their heads. (It had nothing to do with me.)

In the past things used to happen on my birthday. Take 24 September 1664, when director general Peter Stuyvesant surrendered and handed over New Amsterdam to the English. He later received Suriname in return. But since I was born nothing of importance has happened on my birthday.
Except, of course, that on 24 September 1977 the first episode of Love Boat was aired, on 24 September 1984 Paul McCartney released No More Lonely Nights and Hurricane Rita hit the United States on 24 September 2005. Up to that point in my life, I had weathered hurricanes, but I was still waiting for Rita on a love boat.

Occasionally you come across cars dating back to your year of birth. They were still built of sturdy material with lots of chrome plating, and every car so different. In the year I was born men still wore caps or hats in the football stands. You wouldn’t see anyone wearing an orange clog on his head.

Most people have a spectacular first memory: falling out of a tree, for example, or very hot weather on the first day at school; you get an ice lolly and you drop it into the sand. ‘Just rinse it under the tap,’ the teacher advises, but of course you won’t finish it.

My first memory is of playing with a toy car while my mother is doing the ironing in another corner of the room. Nothing at all is happening.

My second memory is more striking: I caught a bit of ‘skin’ when zipping up my fly in the toilet, and my mother and Aunt Annie came and rescued me.

Before you know it, you’re turning fifty. I’ve now entered my 51st year, so I’m officially 50+. I can now go on a beginners’ course in Spanish for the over fifties. However, I don’t understand the difference between a Spanish course for the under and one for the over fifties.

Maybe the course specialises in an extremely mumbled version of Spanish that’s ideal for conversation with other short, bald and rotund men in the squares of small towns with names like Vejer de la Frontera. Quite handy, because of my looks, when in Spain I always get asked for directions. In any case, a ‘Spanish course for the over fifties with Don Quixote in Tenerife’ suddenly sounds very attractive.

Earlier this year Maastricht city council organised a driving proficiency course for the over fifties, the so-called vroom tour. I’ve missed that one. ‘Taking part in this course has no implications for your driving licence.’ That’s a shame: I would have loved to spectacularly crash eight cars at 50+.

Much safer is the course ‘Leisurely cycling for the over fifties’.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Isn’t it obvious? Last week I cycled purposefully, but now I’m cycling in a leisurely fashion.’
Would the Rolling Stones ever indulge in leisurely cycling?

I think I’ll also decline the ‘Rumanian dancing course for the over fifties’, and I won’t take advantage of one of the ‘special weekend deals for the over fifties’.

A 50+ broadcasting company, a 50+ fair, a 50+ political party with two seats in the Second Chamber; they all exist in the Netherlands. People are getting older, but they get increasingly younger old. It’s time for a revolution.

I’m the same age as the Rolling Stones – the band, not the people. Recently I spotted a photo of them: the most wrinkled rock band of all time. Wonderful!

So now I’m going to play the Rolling Stones very loud and dance around the room in select company.

© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press

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