Jim Duffy: Why I should not drone on about being grumpy

Hitting the half-century may be a downer but it's no excuse for inflicting my gloom on radio listeners, says Jim Duffy

The time for celebrating birthdays may be passing but it is possible to age gracefully, or at least not too grumpily.
The time for celebrating birthdays may be passing but it is possible to age gracefully, or at least not too grumpily.

In these pages last week, I looked at the phenomenon that is going to hit us like a ton of bricks in the next few years. No, not Donald Trump, but flying TV stations… or drones. In fact, I found out this week that some of these “toys” can fly at 45mph and are in fact so dangerous that the hobbyists call them upside down flying food processors due to the deadliness of their rotating blades. I don’t fancy one of these whizzing past my head… do you?

This led to me doing a stint on BBC Radio Scotland this week, where the subject of drones permeated the airwaves. I do enjoy doing Call Kaye with the terrific Kaye Adams. I find her a fair interviewer who takes a balanced view on a wide range of subjects. So there I was: droning on about the need for us to have closer look at what these flying peeping toms could and can do, when Kaye caught me unawares. In short, she asked: “Why is an upbeat kinda guy like you being a bit of a killjoy on this drone subject?”

I had to stop and think for a minute, but, to be fair to Kaye, she has a point. As I sat that night sipping on a lovely malt whisky, that had been bought for me by one the entrepreneurs in the Entrepreneurial Spark programme as a thank you (cheers Nadeem), I asked myself why I was indeed being so grumpy.

Was it the fact that I had completed my tax return online the previous day and the HMRC computer kindly let me know that my tax coding had been wrong on my PAYE last year, so I owed them three and a half grand extra? Could be. Was it the fact that my credit card bills were dropping on my doorstep after the festive season and I wished I hadn’t been so generous – bah humbug? Could be. Was it the fact that my daughter passed her driving test and immediately hit me for the same deal as her big sister – down payment from daddy and another car on my multi car insurance policy to worry about? Could be. Or was it the fact that lately my bowels have slowed up in my old age and I feel bunged up for half the week? Could be.


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No, I thought. The reason I feel grumpy is that this year I hit 50 and all that brings with it. Yes, this is the year when life smacks you round the chops with a big wet welly and makes you think about your own mortality. Where on earth did my forties go? Over in a whizz. And what happens when I hit 50? Is it good night Vienna? Will people look at me differently? Am I old? Can I still wear jeans and trainers? Do I have to take up lawn bowls? Will I need Viagra? Should I have a party? Should I just not tell anyone and pretend I’m always in my “late forties”?

So many questions popping into my head all at once.

And to cap it all, my daughters had lunch with me and, almost in concert, told me I was looking “really grey”. Jeepers! Surely not time to start dying my hair. Now, you can see why all this made me grumpy. And, now I can see what goes on in the heads of my fellow humans who have been alive for 600 months on this earth.

So, I now have a choice to make… no, not what colour I’ll dye my hair. I have to decide on whether I get busy living or get busy dying. I have to get out of this rut and think positively about the next 15 years: a 
random number, but it feels realistic.


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I’m about to start act two in my life and, if I’m honest, it can be anything I want it to be. How exciting! I’m already beginning to feel less grumpy as I see the possibilities and potential that is out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe drones are going to cause us problems and I again might get invited on to the Call Kaye show to give an opinion. But, that’s for another day, as I now plan a less grumpy future. There is so much to look forward to in my 50th year. My eldest daughter will be 21. Entrepreneurial Spark opens the final and hugely anticipated 13th Hatchery (co-working space) in London with our partners Royal Bank of Scotland in the summer – what a collective achievement! I publish my first book. My dog turns one year old. And I’m popping down to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen for tea. How splendid!
All I can say is: thanks Kaye for stopping me droning on! You’ve made a grumpy old man happy again!