Duration: 208 pages
Publishing House: Icon Books
Original Year of Publication: 2007
Based on Radio Four's 'Loose Ends'
To Heather.... and my therapist for everything. (Burgess)
The complexities of adulthood have been resolved by the 'A to Z' amusing observations by author, Malcolm Burgess. Perfect for the reader who is sickened by over padded waffling and warrants some kind of enforcer to regulate odious wades of 'stating the obvious, tsunami tide of words'. Burgess has left the dingy writer's desk and engaged in documenting actual life experiences - refreshing concepts, hilarity and some sublime anecdotal premises is the result. Written on the back of Burgess's 'I Hate the Office' bestseller; 'Forty-fied' is a valid muse into the cultural traits of a forty something person in the early twenty first century. The author and leading publications state the 'A to Z' concept is a tongue-in-cheek impression of society; much of the data focuses on realities that anyone approaching or gone beyond the age of forty will be able to identify with. From David Hasselhoff's fluffy beach swept fringe to the sudden urge to buy BBQ equipment during winter time - in the hope that the British summer will break a habit of a lifetime and offer the delusional BBQ owners, ten minutes of sun, before yet another Monsoon deluge splatters the soggy lawn - The ten minute sun break justifying the purchase of the gas propelled BBQ erection - as seen and performed on 'Saturday Kitchen', in a studio?
The book encompasses movies, music, fashion, books, work, family and popular culture that have drifted in and out of fad. Nostalgia, in the shape of video games on the Atari - Spectrum ZX - Commodore 64 (the 64 means 64 'kilobytes' apparently), although it's so irrelevant today, it's not worth mentioning. Ah, but in the day of early dot chasing video games - it really meant you had two dots to chase instead and could possibly have a double player mode. Wow! If of course you could operate the odious coding at the TV screen prompt, just to fire up the cassette tape, to load up the primitive moving dots. The process made the anticipation unbearably exciting. Barbie suddenly resembled Pamela Anderson (Baywatch) she even had the matching beach jeep and skimpy red shorts. The forty-fied, (those of forty and over) now have the tendency to grow their mullet (if it exists) to dangerous levels of wiriness, too the extent it becomes a fire hazard if in contact with nylon and light bulbs. This is either to show off what they've got, or a throw back to their Pa's who paraded their own 1950's mullets as if it had an entity of its own. They didn't need mates to hang around with, their animated mullets was as much interaction they required on a Saturday night. Girls' on dates had to take an adjacent seat next to the mullet while at the pictures. Do you know who 'DLT' stands for? If you do the chances are you're in that forty plus bracket - answers on a postcard marked with the end postcode of '8QT'. A time when the postcard business thrived, thanks to the TV programmes, and it was a miracle if a polka dot celebrity pulled out your card to win a portable music centre the same width as your sofa.
Exploring the wonders of 'green tea' - hoping it'll repair the damage of our rebellious youth
For example: under the letter 'L' - 'Leg Warmers' and 'Life Expectancy' starts on a 'forty-fied' paragraph of quirks and witticisms, offloading a list of what to expect from nearly half a century of existence. Burgess's wisdom announces to his audience that finding out how long guinea pigs live and actually reading flat-pack furniture instructions out to oneself, becomes righteously important. Never has the nine point font instruction listing been so meticulously acknowledged before, and so it continues into the lifestyle thereafter. Entering a paradox of forward thinking and planning comes to the fore, not just for yourself but this new found lifestyle has to be shared to loved ones in random outbursts, leaving the youngsters scratching their heads in amusement. They indulge in the term 'like' at every opportunity, and abbreviate the already abbreviated - a linguistic generation education for the over forties. 'Wicked' is not what it seems anymore either. If, you're 'sic' of course you're not stumbling around cradling your innards looking decidedly green in complexion. One of the notable factors of online interaction is the means to how the over forties use blogs - written in full English sentences without the use of text talk, and the endemic use of the little 'i'; when referring to oneself.
A fascination of jam jar collections on top of store cupboards (the store cupboards are empty by the way) vacant for something of worth to store. Eventually, as the years roll on the jam jar collection grows and the space at the top of the cupboard is compromised. After much deliberation, on a wet weekend, the moment has come; to store the jam jars inside the store cupboard. This is when the balance of the eye-sore overwhelms the requirement to wait for something of worthwhile to store, is apparent. A realization that maturity has indeed engulfed the 'forty-fied' - you start celebrating by playing 'Madonna hits' - the queen of re-invention. When the song 'Holiday' pops up, you 'Yahoo search' for a 'Last Minute dot com', deal. 'Radio Two' and 'Five Live' - gives you comfort, just like 'Fun Boy Three', did years ago - and you remark that Bruce Springsteen is 'The Boss', with a straight face and sincerity. Younger generations will convulse amid embarrassment and squawk out the letters O. M. G. (as if each letter was a word in itself)
Learn to use an eye pod - it apparently has nothing to do with the eyes
Burgess entertains by engaging in a conversation by a forty something individual and a younger individual. This is where you can see Burgess's scriptwriting background take centre stage. He calls it a 'water cooler moment' - whereby a younger colleague at work embarks in a conversation while you try to work out where to put your beaker and secondly, how much water is deemed as excessive (difficult to tell in a large beaker), and thirdly, pondering if it is normal tap water, cooled. Only the forty plus's would glance at the cold tap fifteen inches away and wonder if the cold water from the cold tap would suffice next time - at least the chances of having awkward, youthful verbal exchanges would be less frequent. All solved by the quickness of simply putting the beaker to the cold water tap, instead of waiting for the water cooler to regurgitate the water through an eye of the needle.
As a reader you can see where all this is going - an early form of 'Grumpy Old Men'. Observational satire, an opportunity to laugh out loud to what we become - a wry wit which is a sublime tonic at the best of times, Burgess finds. There isn't a better time to be a forty plus year old individual - old traditions of slippers and the mandatory pipe are long gone. Instead, it is acceptable to learn the youth lingo, endeavour in new technologies, and enter the world of botox - attempt to defy the aging process - get into deep pore cleansing practices and reap the rewards - times have changed for the better. Spare a moment for our forefathers who worked all their lives - time keeping wise they were incredibly punctual, they religiously clocked in and out, and when their time came, they received a gift of a retirement clock. At least the 'forty-fied' doesn't have to deal with that level of irony.