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The Demographic Shift - 7

I've been watching '99 Things to do Before You're 30'. This is, of course, a complete waste of time for me in oh so many ways. So I have been thinking up alternative things to do before leaving the 18- to 34-year-old age group for good, writes Gordon MacMillan.

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Somehow, things to do before you're 35 doesn't have the same ring. It's not going to make the TV schedules. But I'd argue that it is actually far more important than things to do before you're 30. Well, I would, wouldn't I?

Admittedly, there is not much time to go and, by all rights, this is a project that I should have started some time ago. I'll add it to my list of things I should/should not have done at some point in the near/distant past (this list already includes symbolically burning my O-level history notebook by the river only to have my sensible friend Andrew tell me, with his arms crossed: "You're going to need that". He wasn't wrong. I got a straight F, but who was to know that the Onedin Line and the Siegfried Line aren't related).

The difference between my list and Channel 4's is that mine doesn't include anything particularly foul, brainless or downright obtuse. To name a few: skinning a reindeer, frying skunk and handing out fivers. Just one question, why?

As time is short I'm going to limit myself to one thing. Well, one decent thing. There are a number of small things such as paint flat or trade bike in for a car. I'm torn, so the flat will likely never get painted, as that involves DIY and Homebase, and the car involves parking permits, not to mention having somewhere to drive it. But still I like thinking about these things.

The thing I'm going to do is the Ho Chi Minh trail. No, I have no idea why, but come March/April I'm heading for the People's Republic. It's a small thing, but I figure if you have to choose something it might as well be something you can get to by jet plane.

The idea of the Ho Chi Minh trail is partly connected to one of my idle fears about my impending demographic shift, which is that all of my future direct mail will comprise Saga holiday brochures. I'm sure that this is a completely groundless fear, and telling in the extreme that I should have any fears that relate in particular to direct marketing, but it's just one that I can't seem to shake.

The thing is: the girl I bought my flat from never had any of her post forwarded and she gets all kinds of these thick Saga brochures, suggesting holidaying opportunities in places such as Weston Super Mare and Belgium. I might be making the part about Weston Super Mare up. I always thought it was a kind of fictional place, you know like Brigadoon, where you went to live if you happened to be dating your first cousin.

This girl I bought the flat from wasn't any older than me, but these brochures just keep coming. I have even called Saga to tell them that Sabrina no longer lives here, that she left the country, but no luck. Maybe she was a member of the Saga Young Travellers Group (age: 35-55), which you join before ascending to the Saga for real group of the 55 pluses.

So in my fight back against my Saga fear I'm heading for South East Asia. I've avoided this before and spent far too much time in the States, where among other things I failed to visit the Grand Canyon -- on purpose -- and am now threatened by the prospect that in a future Alzheimer's moment, I will sign myself up for the Saga Grand Canyon tour. I just know there has to be one.

Anyway, I've been surveying my friends as well to find out what grand plans they have for the next year. Some were just so whacked it's not true, but you have to respect those who continue to dream the impossible dream (but Mark, West Ham are never going to win anything).

But seriously, it seems that the overriding theme is a desire to leave the country. If I add these to the people I know who have already left the country, then the numbers are worrying. The census was not lying. The reasons for doing so have changed as well. No one wants to leave to live in a hut in India any more (hey Rachel, hope it worked out for you) -- it's now all work related. It's all new job, new country and new life. Whether it's New York, New Zealand or Canada, it's all the same.

When I asked Susan, she gave me two answers. Her first was to find a new boyfriend (sweet) and the second was to join those leaving the country (bad). I had one of those moments when you know you really shouldn't ask people questions, as you kind of know what they are going to tell you? And the thing is, once they've told you there isn't really any compunction not to tell everyone else. So I feel kind of bad.

Some of the other answers were very simple and, well, plain nice. Dan's was to marry (he is in February), but my favourite is Alison's. I asked Alison, who is best after all, and all she said was that she just wanted to make it to her wedding on time and for it to be rather sunny. Rather sunny is cool. Paul sure is a lucky guy. This indirectly leads me to his bachelor weekend, that really wasn't, and things that you really should start saying no to. More of that later.

The Demographic Shift is a new regular column on Brand Republic as Gordon MacMillan charts his own demographic timebomb.

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