How to be a young man at 51

The answer is simple, move to Lymington. This isn’t a negative, agist thing by the way, but a celebration of living and sailing with people who have actually done something in their lives. I remember while working in London that I’d make a mild cultural reference in a meeting like Againcourt or Rorke’s Drift not to mention Geoffrey Howe or Profumo and I’d be met with blank stares. If I started to mention VHS or smoking on the tube, I would be looked at as if I had just checked into a hospital and asked for leaches. The trouble with young people isn’t their single minded belief that they have invented everything for the first time because we’ve all done that, but rather that the education system has failed them. It is like we have a shared language but not a shared history. So the cultural references that were common for my generation are simply missing in the people I worked with.

By contract, the people I’ve met in Lymington are like rich suet pudding, deep, fruity and full of character. On one sailing trip I met a man who gave Edward Heath his first commission in the army (ex Prime Minister in case you’re under 30). An academic who argued physics with Margret Thatcher and a Royal Protection officer who guarded Princes Diana. These guys were only half the crew on one boat on one Wednesday.

So I’m a wipper snapper, the cabin boy on a ship of grizzled old sea dogs who know more about life and sailing that I’ll ever know. So while I may be retired I feel more like a student on a gap year.

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