William Cook

Confessions of a Saga lout

Today’s fiftysomethings – me included – are pleasure-seeking baby boomers who haven’t ever grown up

It’s chucking-out time at my local pub, and the high street is full of idiots. They’ve all had a lot to drink, but they’re in no hurry to go home. They’re looking for a party, somewhere loud and lairy to go on to. They’d settle for more booze, but some speed or skunk would be even better. It’s a scene I’ve seen a thousand times, but lately something’s changed: these tearaways aren’t teenagers — they’re in their fifties and sixties. Meet the Saga louts, those feckless folk who refuse to grow up even as they approach old age.

Saga louts are a pain, and I should know because I’m one of them. I turned 50 last year, making me one of the youngest members of the tribe. The contrast with my son’s peer group could scarcely be any starker. When I was 16, I wanted to sign on the dole and become a poet (I achieved the first of these ambitions). My 16-year-old son wants to do his Duke of Edinburgh award and get into a Russell Group university. He’s never been to a rock festival. He doesn’t drink or smoke. Was it the way he was brought up? I doubt it. I reckon he took a good look at his adultescent dad, realised the bohemian dream was bunkum and deduced that hard work and abstinence were the only way to get ahead. Meanwhile, his old man is acting like a menopausal teenager. Why do we do it, when we’re old enough to know better? Why are so many middle-aged Britons so reluctant to act their age?

We have been behaving badly for a while. Pensioners spend more on booze than the under-30s. Fifty-year-olds are twice as likely to take drugs today as they were 20 years ago.

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