Express & Star

Matthew Panter: Celebrating the past but embracing the here and now

I will admit I was feeling pretty lost.

The Brits earlier this year as Raye collects an award

For once, this DIY disaster area wasn’t standing perplexed, looking at the instruction manual for a piece of flatpack furniture.

I wasn’t aimlessly wandering around the supermarket trying to tick off the most difficult-to-find items on my shopping list. Nor was I cursing my mischievous sat nav for taking me on a wild adventure, a potential head-on conflict with a tractor down some random, tight country lane whilst on holiday.

No, this was early March and I was sat watching the Brit Awards with my daughter Eleanor when it suddenly hit me, like a cartoon frying pan in the face. I realised I was getting old or, at least, that I was completely out of touch with popular culture.

Sure, I had heard of Dua Lipa. My daughter had made sure of that by playing the star’s Future Nostalgia album on pretty much every car journey for a six-month spell.

Of course, there were nominations for Blur, The Rolling Stones, global superstars like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo and a headline appearance from Kylie. I naturally knew all of them.

But there was a whole list of award nominees who I didn’t have a Scooby-Doo about. Shaggy – the singer, not Scooby’s pal, wasn’t there, although Fred Again – no idea – was nominated. I’m not sure about Daphne or Velma.

Raye, who won six trophies, including best artist, best song and album of the year, wasn’t really on my radar, either.

I felt ashamed because I’ve always prided myself on having a wide knowledge of popular culture. It has served me well in many a pub quiz in the past. Yet, somewhere along the line, I have entered a kind of detox programme that I didn’t want to be on and have been left behind on certain music trends, TV, film, technology and all.

In part I can pin-point this to Eleanor’s birth in 2012, alongside a busy work life. My music interest for a few years suddenly became the soundtrack to Frozen – Eleanor really wouldn’t allow us to Let it Go – or George Ezra’s Shotgun, seemingly on a loop, at holiday club discos.

Television was dominated by Mr Tumble, Mr Bloom, Peppa Pig and all.

But I can’t put my lesser knowledge of current trends, solely down to that. In recent years, I also seem to have become swept up in nostalgia – revisiting television series I used to watch ‘when I were a lad’, listening to old music and watching the original Star Wars trilogy for the 900th time.

There’s nothing wrong in continuing to enjoy the things you have always done but watching those Brit Awards – realising how little I knew of some acts – made me think how much I might be missing out on by not embracing current trends.

It works both ways, of course. Eleanor, for example, sometimes has absolutely no idea who I am talking about when I mention a legendary musician, actor, comedian or sports star from before her birth. She was even puzzled at the sight of Kylie at the Brits – her life is consumed by Taylor, Olivia, Ariana Grande and co, plus the latest pre-teen Netflix drama.

I also saw a social media discussion recently where Baggies fans were listing club legends and I found it quite sad that the only players mentioned were from the late 60s to now.

It made me think how we can become too caught up in the present and forget the past.

If you are an Albion fan, there’s no reason why you couldn’t read up on, say Ronnie Allen, Derek Kevan, Jesse Pennington and all and understand why they are worthy of legendary status, keeping their names alive.

Likewise, being a Swifty doesn’t stop you discovering more about the incredible music of the past.

So I am now on a mission. I’m hoping to share classic films, TV and music with Eleanor but also learn more from her about current top trends.

It’s time to get back up to speed on things, still celebrating the past but embracing the present and hopefully that will be rewarding for both of us.

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