I hate these grinning middle years,
Between the surliness of youth and crabbed old age,
I hate the way we have to force a smile,
While inwardly we rage.
I hate the way we smirk at strangers
In Sunday playgrounds, hunched against the weather,
I hate that grimace we exchange that says,
We're all in this together.
I hate the PTA and sponsored walks
The blithe assumption we give a flying fuck
I hate the constant need to show concern
At others' lousy luck.
I hate our shapeless jogging pants,
The careworn cardigans that make us look like wrecks,
I hate the way we dress as if to say,
Too old and tired for sex.
I hate our veering trolleys loaded
With dwarf corn, fresh spinach soup, profiteroles,
I hate the way we feed our puffy bodies while
We starve our hungry souls.
Oh god, I hate these grinning middle years
Not my poem, but my brother-in-law Lindsay Camp's. Reproduced without permission, and we'll fight that out later. I first read it while casting around in Lindsay's office a year and half ago and spotting it amongst an unpublished collection that was lying there.
I like this poem very much - I think it is very English middle-class; such sentiments would seem more alien here in this less self-reflective land where enthusiasm (however misplaced) tends to triumph over ennui. It makes me feel glad that I left the U.K.!
If you like it, why not send a donation to Amnesty International? If you can find a published copy and buy it, that will be where your money goes.