Last night, Channel 5 aired a new documentary about Brits behaving badly abroad. If you saw it, I hope your eyes will soon recover.
If you didn’t, here’s a brief synopsis: a merry bunch of ‘party lovers’ head to Tenerife, down tequilas, dance half-naked, fall over in the street, and ogle a highly questionable yellow jockstrap.
It’s the stuff of holiday nightmares, a nightmare that every parent of every teenager dreads.
Yet this time, it’s not the teenager being worried about – it’s their grandparents.
Welcome to OAPs Behaving Badly, where every boozed up, stumbling, arm-flailing holidaymaker has sailed past the pension age, and somehow navigated their way back to being 17.
To be honest, we’re not quite sure how to feel about it. Are we horrified at their wildly inappropriate antics, or do we think ‘so what?’- if a group of septuagenarians want to have some fun, good on them.
Let’s weigh up both sides…
Side A - We’re horrified
It’s embarrassing... Imagine, just for a terrifying second, that these people aren’t just on the telly, they’re in your living room, they’re your parents and/or grandparents.
Would you still be saying ‘good on them’, or would you be slowly dying inside from embarrassment and shame?
Because, whatever your age, how you act in public will rub off on those closest to you, and acting in ways that aren’t accepted by social norms will rub off especially badly.
This isn’t about whether having fun when you’re older is right or wrong, it’s about whether that ‘fun’ becomes selfish and unfair on those you love.
Money matters... It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that we’re having somewhat of a pension crisis at the moment/for many years to come.
The ever-ageing population, ever-strained public services and ever-dodgy financial climate means that, by the time many of us reach pension age, the coffers will have run arid.
And against this backdrop, seeing a group of people lucky enough to enjoy good financial benefits wasting it all on pints and party hats is more than a little distasteful.
Age is a number... The cliché goes that age ain’t nothing but a number, but actually, that number is quite important. A new survey by a dieting company has just pointed to certain ages where things are no longer appropriate – eg: 24 for kissing in the street, 27 for wearing a mini skirt.
Of course, we’re not saying you should be constrained by society/someone else’s rules. Except, actually, maybe we are… Not all rules (28 is too old for a short skirt? Really?). But some rules – like 75 being too old to binge drink like someone a quarter of your age.
Side B – So what?
They’re old enough and they know better... The years of 18-25, when most people go to Tenerife to down dubious alcoholic potions, are not the years when people tend to know their limits. Add on a few decades, and you do.
Yes, you might still go out and get a bit too tipsy, but you know how to handle yourself with it.
You’ve worked out your hangover cures, you’ve worked out when drunk becomes dangerous, and you stay out/take yourself home accordingly.
Life is long... While the aging population and its accompanying pension crisis is one reason why we dislike the OAPs Behaving Badly, it’s also a reason why we like it.
If everyone is living longer, then suddenly, the 60s are the new 40s - and who would raise an eyebrow at a 40-year-old having a few drinks? No one, that’s who.
Life is short... While medical predictions say most people will now live longer, many people will not. As one of the pensioners on the programme was quoted as saying: “It doesn’t matter if you’re the richest man that lived in the world, you couldn’t buy one ounce of time”.
And he’s right, none of us ever know what’s round the corner, or when our time is up, so, of course, these people should go out and have fun while they can.
It might not be everyone’s version of fun, but it’s theirs, and they have every right to it.