James Burns

James Burns

When I Grow Up

As anyone who’s seen my stand up set recently will know, I now define myself as being #PostLate20s. In estate agent speak, this means I was born within the eighties borders: a popular era, full of vintage character and benefiting from close links to the outer seventies.

Contrary to what I expected – particularly during the obligatory getting-pierced-and-doing-existential-angst years of youth – I’ve found age is inversely proportionate to conformity. It seems the closer you get to Being An Actual Grown-up, the less you care about becoming one. And I’ve come very close; really, I have. I mean, seriously, Indiana-Jones-hat-roll close. Like, buying ‘wine-washed’-cheese-instead-of-normal-cheddar close. This is an actual thing – look it up. In my defense though, this impulse buy was really just a double-thumbs-up to wine washedness as a state of being.

The night before my most recent birthday, I went to bed a broken woman. Feeling Officially Old, I was contemplating a pension plan, the relative merits of different cushion inners and getting on an allotment list (particular folly given I can barely keep miso soup alive). I was listening to the Archers Omnibus by choice and doing a big shop weekly. What I’m trying to say is that a line had been crossed.

But that night, something happened. Something I can attribute only to a visitation from the ghost of birthdays past (a spirit I imagine took the form of a pulled-outta-the-corner Baby Houseman). Àpropos of nothing except the ritual marking of another tired orbit round the old fireball, I awoke to a blazing new dawn. All at once, its blinding #PostLate20s light illuminated the fact that researching upholstery will never offer the same satisfaction as, say, leaving the flat. This shiny new era was one in which being Sandy from Grease in the final scene was, once more, the most viable career option since being She-Ra (a first choice which only London’s lack of gold arm-plate stockists made a sorry non-starter).

It was a plot twist of Sixth Sense-esque contortions. Instead of seeing dead people though, I gazed upon a future in which disco pants could still be worn non-ironically; heady, reckless days in which a gal need rely on nothing more than some canny hyperbole and her natural skills – reciting the Um Bongo song faultlessly, at speed, and vogueing. (FYI: turns out neither of these talents constitute legitimate contributions to board meetings, but I live in hope.)

So, you can do one with your age-defying peptide technologies, ‘cause I’m back in the motherfucking game. I’m doing youth again, better. With more credit and a fridge that doesn’t contain just gin and a beetroot. With fewer regrettable hairdressing choices and no likelihood of ill-advised dalliances involving double-denim. 

Plus, I’m also a mature student now. This means I can legitimately tippex profanity on my pencil case when work gets boring, demand 20% discount on Young People’s clothes, and develop ridiculous yet unselfconscious crushes on folk I’ve got no chance of getting off with.  Case in point: when out last weekend, someone HOT guessed my age at 25. In fairness, they’d been on the happy hour doubles and seemed a bit myopic, but given that I’m renovated 20s with many original features preserved, I’m going to call it a win.

Beth Friday is a stand-up comedian, freelance writer and Psychology PhD student. While dating is her area of academic focus, her commitment to the subject invariably extends into her personal life; fortunately, this provides a wealth of comic material. She is also a competitive athlete, so when not on stage or online, can be found racing through the capital in her fastest shorts.

Pictured below: Beth Friday

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