If there’s one undeniable difference between the old and the young, it is that we oldies have more of a past behind us. Even if we’ve forgotten a great deal of it, there are still some recollections there.
For better, or, I often suspect, for worse.
Work-wise, probably the biggest consequence of this difference is that we’re under fewer illusions when it comes to originality. All those times back in my creative director days when junior teams showed me pictures of men in ill-fitting suits with headlines about the advantages of a tailor-made service – they truly believed they were the first people, not the 873rd and 874th, to come up with this idea.
I don’t do that job any more, so these days I don’t get that flash of recollection until I see the ideas in their finished form. But I do still get it, nonetheless.
For example. My old friends at Scottish Life are celebrating the fifth anniversary of their Governed Portfolios. I remember launching them it seems like about six months ago, but that’s not the recollection I wanted to write about. The headline on the anniversary ad reads Now a five-year-old you don’t have to keep an eye on, which is fine and quite neat for a low-risk fund family. But to old people like me, that line inevitably echoes another from rather over 20 years ago – a line which I never saw, and which I suspect may be more or less apocryphal, but in its misleadingness was supposed to be one of the triggers of the split-capital investment trusts mis-selling scandal, The two-year-old that won’t keep you awake at night.
For me and I suppose for other oldies making the same connection, Scottish Life inevitably suffers from guilt by association. The negative halo of the IT line – oddly, I’ve never heard anyone suggest which trust it was supposed to refer to – makes me feel anxious about Scottish Life’s doubtless-excellent funds. If I was still a creative director and I’d been shown that line by a junior team, I’d have turned it down for that reason.
And they’d have gone away grumbling, probably quite rightly: “Stupid sod. Who cares what some long-vanished investment trust once said in an ad that appeared when dinosaurs walked the earth.”