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Alex Bell: Men over 50 aren’t as past it as the advertisers seem to think

Over 50 and want to don a wetsuit and catch some waves? Go for it (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)
Over 50 and want to don a wetsuit and catch some waves? Go for it (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

I keep getting adverts for erectile dysfunction. That or ways to avoid dementia. Algorithms think I’m going soft.

The run up to Christmas used to start with adverts for toy cars that could the loop the loop, or Kerplunk. Now I’m of an age where marketing thinks I dribble.

Stairlifts and walk-in baths are on offer everywhere. And ads for absorbent towels.

The curse for the Scottish man is that, some time after 40, we magically expand. I have the shoulders of a rugby pro on the legs of a chicken. My head has inflated to the classic Celtic ball – smooth on the top, furry on the bottom and perfectly round.

Age is tricky. Sure you get wisdom and cheaper insurance, but otherwise it’s all beige.

And endless adverts for sensible trousers. Not slacks, which have gone the way of polyester shirts, but chinos in drab colours for looking casual on the quayside.

Lots of comfortable shoes, too: the trainers for people who will never run again.

The older you get, the grimmer the ads

Christmas is a time of gifts. For men, this has always been tortuous. Even as a child, you’d get socks and pants. Make it to over 50 and they start to come reinforced.

Capitalism has a fixed idea of the old. Comfortable clothes, furniture which doesn’t tax the knees and the promise of getting away to a beach.

You can dress it up as much as you like but, at the end of the day, it’s still socks (Photo: Shutterstock)

Most ads for men over 50 are photographed by the sea. A metaphor for the liberation of age, perhaps. Or a nod to inevitable dampness.

The ultimate reward is a cruise. Endless appeals to somewhere with lapping waves and palm trees – and they don’t mean Ullapool. A destination where ships eject pollutants, carbon and the occasional passenger. But, one imagines, a good place to wear chinos.

Do not miss out on the sensation of your kidneys slowly stewing whilst striding about in an electric jacket

Private Eye magazine usually does a very funny spoof of those advertising supplements which include things like heated slippers or facsimiles of General Montgomery’s moustache “with real hair”. This used to be very amusing, until you realise reality has overtaken parody, and you are the target market.

One real advert boasts of a heated gilet. You charge it on the mains, put it on and walk around, like that kid in the old Ready Brek advert, glowing. Do not miss out on the sensation of your kidneys slowly stewing whilst striding about in an electric jacket!

I can’t help but feel that if they added arms, the battery powered heat panels might not be needed.

And for the man with more money than sense?

There’s another newspaper advert for what to do if you have a pension portfolio of £250,000. It features a man with a naked torso and the tail of a seal.

For ages, I’ve wondered who would want to spend their pension on becoming half-man, half-sea mammal. Only recently did I work out the guy was wearing a wetsuit, undone at the top.

The image of lounging on a beach, your genitals encased in rubber, while your Celtic skin bubbles into cancerous lesions, is not attractive

But I have been to public swimming pools, and most over-50s already look like whales.

The image of lounging on a beach, your genitals encased in rubber, while your Celtic skin bubbles into cancerous lesions, is not attractive.

Further, if you have £250,000 saved up, then do not be surprised if the rest of us steal your wallet while you cavort in the waves.

We’re over 50, not over the hill

Capitalism doesn’t seem to have caught up with reality. Perhaps there was a time when all the over-50s wanted nothing more than wool and an escape to the Caribbean, but I’m pretty sure that has passed.

There is a gap here, between the achievement of a working life and the options for growing old.

But what if you’re over 50 and not ready to sail off into the sunset just yet? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Marketing turns the over-50s into victims, of leaking bodies and infirmity. Well, you can stuff that up your turkey.

Fifty-year-olds are perfectly able to research stairlifts, walk-in baths and helpful aids to unwanted leakage. We are not imbeciles.

What’s more, if you wear a wetsuit, then any sea or beach is fine. We’ve got plenty of gorgeous ones in Scotland.

A bank robber kit is this year’s must-have

A Christmas advertising campaign offering something a bit more exciting wouldn’t go amiss.

The actor Alan Cumming recently said he’d try heroin when he was 80. I have always thought robbing a bank would be fun.  Given modern financial injustices, they seem like fair game. A “bank robber” kit would be something I’d buy.

The only problem is that banks no longer have cash. I shall escape with a swag of leaflets instead, probably featuring a mature couple smiling on a beach.

After bank robbery, car chases seem fun. Just flooring the accelerator and whipping through traffic.

Or gunrunner for good causes, like Rick in Casablanca. A nightclub as a front for selfless heroism, aided by a dodgy roulette wheel and a loyal piano player.

Famously, women shall wear purple when they get old. Men have no such inspiration, while grumpily morphing into the cushions. Against this we must rebel.

Let this Christmas be the beginning of new joy, men, and shed your V-necks for freedom. Mind you, I could do with some socks.

Merry Christmas.


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