I’ve most definitely outgrown the need to be a grown-up

A recent study has assembled 50 indicators of being grown up.

They include such things as having life assurance (tick), a will (tick), being married (tick), having a joint bank account (tick), enjoying gardening (half a tick) and knowing what an ISA (not applicable) is.

They all sound terribly serious. Speaking as a 57-year-old, I should surely be able to rank myself among grown-ups but having scanned the list, I’m not confident I qualify.

There was a time when I might have “pottered” at a weekend. There are occasions when I go to bed before 11pm. But I can’t honestly say I pass full muster.

I and, judging by the general mischievousness of my correspondents, many of my contemporaries might well be considered “beyond grown up”.

We are the people who have been there, done that, got the T-shirt and elasticated-waist trousers. Our grown-up years are behind us.

Here are some of the things that define us as grown-ups (according to the research by Skipton Building Society) and their “beyond grown up” antidotes. These should be administered as soon as you find yourself participating in activities that might make you permanently and irrevocably grown up.

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Carrying out a weekly food shop: This is permissible as long as you do not, repeat, do not leave your husband in the car. Driving into the superstore car parks, I often see men sitting in the driver’s seat of their sensible family vehicle.

When the woman arrives, having weaved unsteadily from the check-out with a trolley piled higher than eye-level, her partner leaps from the vehicle to perform the supreme, manly task of putting the bags into the boot.

When you are beyond grown up you can be spontaneous. Why not grab something for tea on the way home from work/tennis/pilates/solving the mysteries of the universe.

Recycling: Young people, ie the pre-grown-ups, are definitely the most responsible recyclers.

In my experience, children are appalled when you fail to read recycling instructions or put items into the incorrect wheelie bin. Why can’t we have a stripey one for stuff we’re not sure about.

My daughter also tells me off if I buy apples resting in individual dimples in a polystyrene carton. Being beyond grown up, I am still perversely fascinated by pre-washed vegetables and mollycoddled fruit. I like to see an individually-nested plum.

Watching the news: Yes, I watch the news but only because there’s nothing else on. Beyond grown-ups surf all the other four “real” channels before resorting, in desperation, to the television news. We found out all we needed to know about economic downturns in the ‘70s and all we needed to know about big city bonuses in the ‘80s. The skilled beyond grown-up will watch the news but shout down the newscaster.

Taking trips to the local tip: It wasn’t me eyeing up that ladder-back chair in the skip.

Being able to bleed a radiator: What does that mean? I hope I never find out.

Having a view on politics: I hate to disappoint politicians but having no interest in politics is a view. My own views veer between wanting to rule the world (I can’t think of anyone better than me to wield absolute power) and wanting a quiet life (please don’t knock on my door and tell me why I should vote for you). Beyond grown-ups tend to find politics disappointing.

Being able to change a light bulb: Since the man who came to measure us up for a new kitchen announced we were using enough wattage in there to light a small town, we have been trying to cut down on electricity, leaving light bulbs unreplaced.

But there has never been a time when I was unable to change one. (I refer you to the old joke: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb. ONE!)

Beyond grown-ups whinge about energy-saving bulbs (see all previous columns... if you can read them in the half-light).

Holding dinner parties: Yes, well, when I was a grown-up I tried it once or twice and found it too stressful. Thinking of stuff like cheese and biscuits, dessert wines and after-dinner mints is a dreadful strain. When you get to beyond grown up you can invite people round for supper and leave the cream in its plastic pot and use paper napkins.

Having children: Beyond grown up can mean having older children who help you stack the dishwasher; offer to make you a cup of tea; live somewhere else; help you set up your mobile phone; ask if there’s anything in the fridge you don’t want; pat you on the head; enrich your world with new experiences such as Japanese animated films and Rufus Wainwright.

Listening to Radio 2: Yes, I confess it happened to me when I grew up. But then, most of the hip and happening DJs also grew up and moved over to Radio 2. Beyond grown up, I have moved on again. Now it’s Radio 4 with my eight records, a book and a luxury; the rural rides of The Archers and Libby Purves on Midweek. By the way, you will notice that beyond grown-ups still use the term “record” to describe a recording.

Wearing coats on a night out: This is problematic. The concept of a “vodka overcoat” was introduced to me by young people and it seems it is used as an alternative to a traditional jacket. Back in the day, before going out on the town, we did not tank up at home thus rendering ourselves immune to cold. If I ever have a night out, I shall definitely wear a coat.

Ironing: Under no circumstances.

Being able to change a car tyre: I should coco. I find, in my beyond grown-up years, that membership of the RAC means you never have to open the bonnet or use a jack. Only last week a flat, nearside front tyre required the assistance of one of the Royal Automobile Club’s knights of the road. “Where are you parked?” they asked. “On the driveway, at home,” I replied.

This is just a small sample of the things I don’t do and, hopefully, this will save me from being a grown-up, or indeed, a boring old f**t.

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