never married, over forty, a little bitter


Bars, events, and online dating– the activities most people turn to in order to meet a partner– all seem unlikely avenues for me at this age. I do, however, occasionally get flirted with just going about the business of life– playing tennis, working on the farm, shopping at Home Depot, dealing with maintenance men, swimming, and so on.

Yet it is hard to let go of the “filtering” mechanism that online dating provides. One of the men I found attractive from the farm recently introduced me to his toddler children. Is there a woman in the picture? I don’t even know. Another man, from tennis, asked to friend me on Facebook. Turns out he is almost twenty years younger than me. I have a feeling he’s a bit surprised.

The real world is full of curves.

the living

“Ours is a culture not of ancestor worship but of descendant worship. Children must sense that nothing an adult does is more important than their own desires. All political questions seem to come down to the interests of ‘the next generation’.”

He added: “I’d prefer our opium to be the struggle to create a living civilisation, which might daunt even our descendants. Our obligation cannot be uniquely to the young, and those yet to be born. It is also to the living, and to the dead.”

little emperors

It may take a village to raise a child but actually no one cares about the village once the child is born, as the world around ceases to exist.

Obviously I am describing a particular style of parenting that co-exists alongside clearly deprived and unhappy children. But I have much sympathy with Rory Stewart, the Tory MP for Penrith, a very thoughtful man who has dared to challenge the reign of the child. We often talk of the existence of elderly people – bed-blockers, immobile, mentally ill – as a burden. For we are too busy anyway with our jobs and kids. Stewart pointed to the huge dismay at youth unemployment and complete lack of interest in pensioner poverty. In an essay in Intelligent Life, he went on to say: “Our ancestors have been addicted to honour, craved virtue and wealth, been hooked on conquest, and on God. But ours is the first civilisation to find its deep fulfilment in our descendants. Our opium is our children.”

Children as the opium of the masses is an interesting idea. Small children may certainly be this and many people’s focus on wider issues immediately narrows once they become parents, even on something such as climate change, which will affect future generations. We just hope science works and open another bottle of wine …