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Rutland columnist Allan Grey on diary clashes

Well, how did life ever get quite so complicated? asks Rutland columnist Allan Grey

The diary is now full for the foreseeable, and with some difficult decisions having to be taken. Take last weekend for example - even the Rutland Lions Charter, the club’s traditional birthday celebration, 49 years since its founding back in June 1975, didn’t find space on my calendar. Instead it was another type of birthday party altogether, my late brother’s eldest granddaughter, my great-niece had reached 18, a milestone in this young lady’s life, the transition from child to adult, the transition from student to jobseeker, with all the choices and responsibilities that go with it.

The party was back down Sarff, close from whence I journied Norff 45 years ago, Ruislip to be precise. I travelled down with four ladies, one daughter and three granddaughters, arriving at the afternoon barbecue at my sister-in-law’s house, and for the first couple of hours to find I was the only bloke amongst countless young ladies, many of similar age to the birthday girl. I enquired politely if any other males had been invited, to be informed that a couple should be along later.

Allan Grey
Allan Grey

I assisted the lady tasked with cooking sausages and burgers on the griddle, as any decent bloke would, using my Lions food hygiene skills to probe each delicacy with a food thermometer to ensure there would be no digestive traumas spoiling the occasion.

Whilst doing so and looking around, I suddenly felt my age, my generation even, two on from most of those attending. I noticed the great similarity in how birthday girl’s friends were all turned out, all with the current fashion of long hair, all with tight fitting slinky attires, all with their nails fashionably shaped and decorated, all chatting about the nightlife merits of their planned summer sojourns in Xante, Ayia Napa, Faliraki, Ibiza versus their grandparents caravan in Skegness.

It was only when my daughter explained, that I began to understand the impact of the many ‘influencers’ plying their trade on social media, on the choices that young people make on all aspects of their lives these days and in particular their appearance when amongst their peer group. An increasing career choice now for many young people is to become an ‘influencer’ and make a living via their You Tube, Instagram or TikTok feeds, influencing on anything from health and fitness, make-up, fashion, and how not to end up like your parents, and definitely not like your grandparents.

Interestingly, this point was amplified when I met a charming young man, in fact the boyfriend of the great-niece. In typical ‘old bloke’ to ‘young guy’ conversation, I asked him what he was looking to do career wise having completed college. As someone who regularly worked out in the gym, he told me he was considering developing a career in health and fitness, as a personal trainer, with his own social media feed and ideally earning a living by becoming an influencer. Now, I’m pretty ‘dan wif da OAPs’ as far as social media is concerned, so I’m now wondering just what aspects of lifestyle I could top my pension up with, ‘influencing’ the vast septuagenarian population of Rutland. Maybe hair restoration exercises, reverse parking techniques for Range Rover drivers, choosing the most age appropriate lycra for outings on the new e-Bike and how to work with your local pharmacy to optimise the use of ones dosset box, the opportunities seem endless.

After the Saturday party there was of course an even bigger diary decision to be made last Sunday. Should I carry on further Sarff and join the 300,000 at Glasto, all clamouring for some country music with Shania Twain on the final afternoon and unknown to me, and I suspect 99% of the population, enjoy SZA closing the annual festival from the pyramid stage in the evening? Or should I head straight back home for an afternoon with the Atomics?

In the event, the prospect of joining 73 other Cutts Close groupies to hear Blondie, Duran Duran, The Police, The Pretenders and The Rolling Stones from the famous bandstand was altogether too good an opportunity to miss, and so it was back to Oakham with Shania and SZA having to make do with an iPlayer outing later in the evening.

On the same afternoon, an even bigger dilemma, watch England v Slovakia live or record it, cook a roast Sunday dinner and watch the game later, all the while risking that somehow you will learn the result before you’ve finished eating. Well, the sheer masochism of watching unlikely favourites England labour live to a lucky 2-1 win, won out in the end, although I did manage to reheat a rather tasty Hello Fresh meal at half time, so the calendar conflict was managed quite effectively.

The week continued unabated, with several coffee meetings, lunches, evening barbecues, and lots of very kind people wanting to make sure I’m doing alright. Well, I’m doing alright, thank you, although I’m running short on carrot cake as well as free time to write this column, as I’m sure you can tell from the distinctly average tenor of the read.

And finally there’s today, Thursday, July 4, the biggest clash of all, find time to cast my democratic vote for one of the hopeless, sorry hopefuls at the local polling station, or get a pile of ironing done, the choices just don’t get any easier do they?

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