Andy Richardson: The ages of man as defined by domestic appliances
The windows are finally done. After 15 years shivering through winters in a home that scores a 10/10 for character and a 0/10 for practicality, we’ve joined the 20th century. Hell, we may one day also join the 21st.
Of course, as with all manual jobs, the devil is in the detail. Though the windows are quieter than the Orfield Laboratory in South Minneaplois – check it out, it’s the quietest place on earth – the job’s still not really done. Our house is decorated in no-longer-required scaffolding; like it’s Merry Christmas at the builder’s yard. Gary, the man who ought to have arranged its removal, has been strangely quiet and doesn’t seem to be answering his mobile. Can’t imagine why.
Ah, but what the hell. On the inside, it’s delicious. The gales that have bellowed through single-pane, sash windows for more than 160 years are no more. The steady stream of autumnal colds are at an end. The roar of traffic has become muffled. Who knew double glazing could sound so good?
It is time to digress. There are many theories about the stages of man. Arguably the best was written by the American academic Daniel Levinson. He described an Early Adult Transition between the ages of 17-22, a phase of Entering the Adult World from 22-28, the Age 30 Transitions from 28-33 and the Settling Down stage from 33-40. Those were followed by the Mid-Life Transition from 40-45, the Entry into Middle Adulthood from Age 45-50 and Late Adulthood from 60+.
Others put things more simply, suggesting that life passes through the seasons. We emerge from darkness in winter and from then until our mid-twenties, we grow and mature through spring when the world is our lobster. Through the summer years, we build business, develop relationships and become a warrior of the world. By the time we hit our mid mid-fifties, autumn arrives and its time to harvest a legacy. And then winter comes and off we pop. See ya.
Levinson deserves his due. He was a brilliant psychologist who lived a remarkable life in New York and made major contributions to the fields of behavioral, social, and developmental psychology, as well as penning a few best-selling books.
It is time, however, to move those theories along. It is time, as PhD students say, to contribute to new knowledge. And so today, ladies and gentlepeople, we are proud to present a modern theory regarding the stages of man. We shall call it The Ages Of Man, As Defined By Domestic Appliances. In years to come, it will become as popular and acclaimed as Levinson’s theory.
I shall become a multi-millionaire and sell vast quantities of books. I shall take personal responsibility for wiping out Finnish silver birch forests to supply over-worked paper mills. Extinction Rebellion will track me down and glue themselves to my face.
But until then, I will share the theory with you.
The Age of Man as Defined By Domestic Appliances features the same number of stages as Levinson’s: seven.
The first stage is The Age of The Vtech Lullaby Sheep Cot Light, though other appliances for babies are readily available – the Tiny Love Meadow Days mobile, erm, mobile, from John Lewis, is one of the best.
The stage is easy to understand: as babes in arms we gaze skyward, wondering why those bright lights and electronic sheep are disturbing our dreams of colostrums.
We quickly progress to the next stage: The Age of Phones. No sooner are we able to walk than we snatch our parents’ phones and send text messages to their bosses reading “poia;kjga;kdsrua8powiuero[ai7ue90-2 4ilp;aksd; a57”. We progress through our teens to internet shopping, placing furtive bets and becoming obsessed by Love Island while catching the bus to school.
We move into early adulthood and enjoy The Age Of The Car, during which time we realise that unmarked police cars are waiting to catch us when we chance our luck with an amber light and that those yellow average speed cameras really do work and £60 speeding fines are no fun.
We rapidly enter The Age of The Washing Machine, as we settle into domestic life and stop obsessing about clubs, drink and girls while turning attentions to Dyson vacuum cleaners, Sony washing machines and, oh, I tremble at the very thought, gleaming Bosch dishwashers.
A golden age awaits as we enter The Age of Double Glazing. Gary – if you’re reading, mate, come and shift the scaffold.
But as summer drifts towards winter, a troubling stage arrives: The Age Of The Nasal Hair Remover. Eugh. Enough said. From there, it is but two or three short decades until we enter The Age of the Household Lift and finally, the men in black are waiting and it’s time for The Age of The Undertaker. Yikes. Who knew life could fly past so quickly?
Levinson, poor soul, lived through a different time: they didn’t make Dyson’s in the 1930s or 1940s, though I like to think he’d approve.
Until next week.