Bridge the gap and see beyond!

Funny how "age differences" have become "age gaps" have become "The Age Gap." Or did I just imagine that particular form of escalation? You, of course, would be too young to know (or perhaps, at the other end, you've forgotten).

Anyway, I'm all in Favorm of "The Age Gap." Without gaps -- gaps generally -- where would we be? Spatial gaps, for instance. Abolish those and you abolish the bridge-building industry; motorway construction, cross-channel-swimming, inter-planetary exploration and the tourist trade -- not to mention telephones, telegraphy, television and even the good old-fashioned business of shouting.m If there were no spatial gaps, then we'd only need to whisper. A quieter world, certainly, but less . . . fun, somehow.

And if we were all the same age . . .! The mind boggles (or at least mine does: what yours is doing I can't guess.) For a start, however, would we all agree on the age we would most ideally like to be? Forty-five? Twenty-three? Six-hundred-and-two?

One thing ism surely certain: none of us would choose to be seventeen. None of us. There are advantages. As Malvolio put it (and heaven alone knows how old hem was):

"As a squash is before 'tis a peascod, or a coding when 'tis almost an apple: 'tis with him in standing water between boy and man."

'Tis . . . 'tis . . . 'tis! So, so Malvolio!

Mind you, this business of being old (or young), is all very relative.When I was small, the larger people around the place were very secretive. I felt older than all of them, except my father. He admitted to a hundred or so, never less, and to me he was more venerable and ancient than Methuselah (who I hadn't heard of by then, to be truthful). But I also was convinced he was a very small man, for some strange reason. He was actually six foot high. So perhaps I was simply bad at measuring things. My mother's bolt-hole was: "As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth" which I considered cheating.

Children can have fascinatingly off-beat notions about age. I have become permanently ninety to some misguided children I know. Theym grow up at a rate of knots. But I, like some blighted Peter Pan, am ninety forever. The same impression seems to have made itself felt by some of my readers. Two or three of them seem positive I'm a nonagenarian. It only goes to show.

Or does it?

But it isn't the age gap, per se, that is the trouble. It is, as everyone really knows, the attitudes that go with it. The age gap is used as a peg to hang quite a lot more than seven deadlines on, and the deadliest of these is envy, green, green envy. . . .

What's needed is morning exercises. Not the jogging, body-swinging, in-time-with-the-music kind. No, something different, designed to reduce attitudes rather than corpulence. Care to try it?

What you have to do, all by yourself, is address an imaginary person out loud , using the following sentences. But they have to be delivered so that they don't sound like insults;m or even back-handed compliments. They have to be delivered admiringly. Redeem them's the idea. Ready?

(1) He's (or she's) old enough to be your father (or mother)!

(2) She ism in her teens, after all!

(3) He's amazing, when you consider his age.

(4) I didn't do that kind of thing when I was your age.

(5) Well, she's not as young as she was, is she?

(6) He's young for his age, You know. (Lick thatm one, and you've won: you'll ave age-gappery in the pain of your hand. You are ready to face the world with a free step and a clear conscience, old chap.)


I asked a young friend the other day (she's twenty-six -- or was then):

"Do you feel a gap between twenty-five and twenty-six?


"Or between twenty-six and twenty-seven?"


"Between twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty nine?"


"Between twenty-fivem and twenty-ninem , then?"


"What about between twenty-five and thirty?"

"Oh, yes!"m She said with emphasis.

Ah, so, that's where the fun begins . . .!

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