You realise you're getting old when you find yourself knocking back two Rennie at a gig instead of a beer. There I was: Camden Jazz Café, hands in pockets, jostling for a clear view of the stage. At intermittent intervals glancing sight of the fake Johnny Cash as he busted out another of his obscure back catalogue; one eye on the unnecessarily long queue at the bar; a drunk couple twice my age taking the stance that the best way to enjoy the gig is to ruin it for everyone else with their annoying 'dancing' and shouting. The tallest bloke in the audience has taken it upon himself to consistently stand in the way of everyone's view. Thoughtfully doing so on a rotation system so that everyone has to crane their neck approximately every 43 seconds. A kind stranger approaches him and politely suggests that he 'fuck off to the back' so that everyone can enjoy their evening without a constant wall taking stock in front of them. My girlfriend rolls her eyes at the kind stranger before kissing him on the cheek. I don't get angry as I quickly discover that the kind stranger in question is in fact me. I immediately win favour with the short people around me, who can now enjoy the gig without their view impaired. They do so with fervour and excitement - I immediately regret my actions and look for the Human Wall to return so their enthusiasm can be curbed. But it is too late: he is already at the back blocking the view of the sound technician.
I take another glance at the unwarranted queue at the bar and breathe a heavy sigh at the thought of queuing twenty minutes for a bog standard lager served in a plastic cup. And then, it happens. I reach into my pocket and remove the packet of fruit flavoured ant-acid tablets. Without a moment's hesitation, I flick one in my mouth. My actions have not gone unnoticed: I find my girlfriend shooting a look my way - a look that echoes my receding hairline and growing intolerance of youthful endeavours. I have crossed a threshold. She knows it and I know it. There is no going back for me. But will she join me on my venture? I offer my tasty digestive delights with the air of a pre-watershed drug dealer. She eyes the booty, shrugs, puts one in her mouth and carries on dancing. Just like that. Like nothing has happened. But then, she is twenty-something and beautiful. She has no understanding of what it feels like to lose your ideals day-by-day, gig-by-gig. She is unaware of the turmoil that burns me inside.
It could be worse however; I could be the highly inebriated middle-aged man in front of me: he attempts some sort of movement that he hopes would be interpreted as dance. He holds his pint cup horizontal, unaware that the big hole thing at the top will allow that liquid beer stuff to escape onto the floor. He is slowly creating a puddle of beer that would surely soon require a hazard sign or an official title from the National Park Trust. The annoying 'dancing' couple masquerade dangerously close to the recently acclaimed 'Lager Lido'. I spend the rest of the night desperately hoping that they both slip over and cause horrific injury to themselves and others around them. I begin to wager bets with myself over who will suffer the most and how many innocent bystanders will be brought into the mix. I look for the Human Wall, but he is too busy blocking the spotlight from reaching the stage. My hopes rest with an unsuspecting man in his sixties. He mouths the words to each song like he is speaking in tongues. He is a big man and would cause a lot of damage if he were to get caught up in the Lager Lido massacre. I lick my lips and pop another Rennie, anticipating such greatness. But, before my ambitions can be fulfilled, my girlfriend taps me on the shoulder and tells me it's time to go.
Outside we walk, arms linked. I take reflection of the gig and ask her:
"Do you think I'm old?"
She smiles: "Of course," she says, "but not as old as that lot".