Liz Hoggard: Revenge of the life-savvy over-40s
My name is Liz. I've no idea what a podcast is. I've lost days in cyberspace trying to upload photos. So it made me roar with laughter when I heard that Trivial Pursuit are planning a new online experiment next month. The Battle of the Generations – which will pit the under-30 "tech-savvy" crowd against the over-30 "life-savvy" set – is positively Corinthian. Because as generations, we really are wired differently. They have digital brains; we're still analogue.
Young people look on in astonishment at our total ineptitude when it comes to downloading apps or buying tracks off iTunes (I still go into shops and buy CDs: what a loser). When Radiohead allowed us to download their album, I crumpled. There was no fixed price. And you know, "pay as you choose" doesn't work for my generation. It's far too metaphysical. Start questioning the value of things and the world falls apart.
I know downloading is anti-corporate, green, packaging-free. But the experience lacked the sheer, heady thrill of queuing to buy a single when I was 13. Somehow it has all turned into maths A-level.
Increasingly I feel flustered, apolgetic with the Twitterati and the Ted-heads. This must be what my parents' generation felt about the great cultural divide that was decimalisation.
But now we've got some status back. We're (small drum roll here) "life savvy". Emotional intelligence might have a role to play, after all. By 40, we've lived and loved and made complete fools of ourselves. And survived to tell the story.
I can't be the only one who took heart this week from research by German and Austrian scientists proving that the greatest life happiness comes at 74. They have found it starts to tip in the teenage years and continues on a downward spiral until the age of 40, then things start looking up. We're more appreciative of what we have as we get older.
You can walk into a room and think: this is the best I'm going to be. Yes, maybe the jawline is less taut, the waistline less defined. But life is less of a mystery. We live more in the present than the past, or future-perfect. Strategies learnt at work turn out to be useful in love, and vice versa. If I have one piece of advice, it's to be incredibly warm to everyone. People love it. As you age, people are more likely to remember – and prize – the emotional content of their social interactions and experiences.
The other thing that makes your forties easier is that people are telling the truth. They've been through the fire, too. In your twenties everyone is so competitive; you'd rather die than admit to failure. Now there's nothing to hide
But there is a downside to being life savvy and "tech stupid". Now that Mobile Me has all my data in a single cloud (phone, email, photos, music), I'm permanently locked out of my digital emotional life. Could someone please loan me a teenager to get back in?
Burton's Alice – a role model for girls of 2010
It's been a depressing week for surveys about young women and body image. Last week government research revealed that teenage girls between 10 and 15 are the most depressed section of the population. But concerned parents can take heart from Tim Burton's new film Alice in Wonderland (which has its royal premiere tonight).
Unsurprisingly the £158m special effects movie is ravishing. There are plum roles for Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter (aka Mrs Burton) as the scary Red Queen. But it's also a fascinating study of adolescence – and the pressures on young women to conform (physically, socially).
All that growing and shrinking has never been so relevant. Yes, of course he's taken liberties with Charles Dodgson's original text – making Alice a young woman on the brink of marriage. And the Freudian subtext is certainly there – but so delicately nuanced that it confirms Burton as a genuine male feminist. Plus, the young actress playing Alice (Australian Mia Wasikowska) is remarkable: stubborn, brave, non-girlie.
Burton says he wanted an Alice "with gravity" not the usual little girl in white ankle socks and a blue pinafore. She even gets a sword fight at the end. If I had a nine-year-old daughter it's exactly the film I'd want her to see.
Priceless art. Low-paid staff. It doesn't add up
I can't be the only one who feels uneasy about visiting London's National Gallery as staff are forced to demonstrate about continuing low pay. On Tuesday, gallery workers walked out for three hours, forcing all but five of the gallery's 66 rooms to shut.
There seems something immoral about gazing at priceless works of art when you discover that gallery staff are paid as little as £6.45 an hour (which falls 60p short of London's so-called "living wage" of £7.60 set by Boris Johnson last year).
I am the original culture vulture. I spend all my salary on books and plays and films. I do understand that staffing and acquisition (of artworks) come out of totally different budgets. But I'd argue that there is a price on art.
I don't want to go to a gallery, or a theatre (or a restaurant for that matter) knowing the people who run the place are unhappy and badly paid. Hundreds of people hold a museum or world-class heritage body together from scientists, conservators and curators to librarians, photographers and designers.
There is no obvious villain to this story. Nicholas Penny, director of the gallery, has expressed his "sympathy with the lowest-paid employees" but says the low pay was due to"restraints that can only be altered at a political level", referring to the National Gallery's quango status.
On the website the gallery apologies for the disruption to the public. Tourists won't be thrilled, I know. But the real apology, I would argue, is owed to the workers, the skilled custodians of pleasure, who are expected to service our every need on an hourly rate that barely covers two cappuccinos from Starbucks.
I'm not surprised the Italians are so prickly about Prosecco (hailed as the new champagne). With its sturdy bottle and deceptive yellow label, it's the great anti-snob drink. Especially for hopeless lower middle-class tipplers like me who think ordering "one above house" is classy.
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