A pitiful case of adolescent senescence

Immaturity held up as the highest good

In a café, Dalrymple watches a man in his early seventies making his way slowly and painfully to the latrines with the aid of a wheeled walker. Dalrymple writes:

This, of course, was reason enough to sympathise with him and, if I could have helped, I should have done so.

But what made the man a tragic figure

was not his physical handicap (of a type that many – perhaps most – of us will experience if we live long enough) but his insistence on dressing like an adolescent, in jeans, a flowered shirt, and basketball shoes, with a single, large gold earring and a Keith Richards coiffure c. 1970 except for its greyness.

Here was a man

who had not (as Mr Blair would no doubt have put it) moved on. He was caught in adolescence as flies were once caught in amber.

This was a tragedy

not only for him as an individual but, on the assumption that he was far from alone but rather representative of a trend, for society: for as everyone knows, having once been adolescent themselves, adolescence is a time of extreme bad taste and what might be called conformist rebellion, or rebellious conformity. It was a tragedy for him as an individual because it made him dream an impossible, worthless dream; and a tragedy for society because it made immaturity the highest good.

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