Welcome to the skipped gear IQ, a series of posts in which I answer the imaginary question I’ve just thought of as I write the skipped gear IQ post that you are reading, so it’s effectively a journey of discovery for us all.

Amazingly, the above sentence just flowed out of me without too much effort, and I think neatly distils the essence of these posts within a few words. Previously it has taken nearly two whole paragraphs to explain what an IQ post is meant to be. Perhaps it helps that I am being totally honest about the method of their construction — instead of just ‘beating about the bush’ or ‘stretching things out’, and other idioms and cliches for taking much too long to make a short point about not much in an effort to get the word count up — therefore justifying doing a post on my blog when I didn’t really have a clue what to write today.

I expect there are some who are suspecting that the IQ posts are actually an irrelevance, a mere speck of dust on the grubby mantelpiece above a disused fireplace, in an abandoned house, on a street due for demolition, in a town struggling to find its place in the post-industrial landscape of the country that no-one wants to go anywhere near now due to it surrounding itself in an awful sea of shit, and I have to say, I am broadly in agreement with them.

Anyway, in place of just heading down to the beach for a bit of surf in turd, let’s have today’s IQ.


IQ: How old are you?

Why do you ask?

IQ: It’s what I’m here for. Also, I see from the letter post that arrived just this moment — which was handy as it inspired a question that may be of interest to readers in the nick of time — there is an envelope addressed to you in handwriting, a slightly thicker and less bendy envelope, judging from the depth of the permanent-looking crease in it that hasn’t sprung back out after being bent to put in the letterbox by the postman like the thinner stuff does, not brown and saying ‘Urgent: Not a Circular’ in red like normal, and slightly squarer in its shape. This means one thing. Birthday card.

Excellent observation and deduction skills. Well, I am mindful of internet security and not giving out my actual birthday, for fear of having my made-up identity stolen and used for frankly dodgy, obtuse and inane purposes and suchlike, but I can tell you that I expect that card is from my Mum as it’s about a week early.

She is often so keen to make sure the card arrives ‘in time’ that it is sometimes wishing me a happy birthday for the one a year after this upcoming birthday. It will also be one that trumpets an age on it on the front, or will involve the words ‘I can’t believe it was x years ago I gave birth to you‘, to which I will be thinking ‘Nor can I Mum, because it probably wasn’t‘. The next card will come next week I expect, so it’s no wonder when, if I am asked for my age, I resort to asking what year it is first and then using a calculator to make sure I get it right.

IQ: So how old are you?

Well, when I was at primary school, there were lessons on how to survive a nuclear attack by hiding under your desk, your coolness was measured by your contemporaries by how little of your doubtless sensible school shoes could be seen under the width of your flared trousers hems — which was a problem for those of us very uncool boys still in shorts, so everyone could see your uncool but sensible school shoes (start of term: highly shiny sensibleness, end of term: dull, horrendously scuffed and upper and soles held together with rubber bands, sellotape and hope) — and you rushed home after school to watch one of the two television channels with kids TV on until it was tea time, when it stopped with the fanfare of impending nuclear armageddon, otherwise known as ‘The Evening News of how Hot the Cold War has got and What Union is On Strike Today’.

IQ: I only had the one question and you are avoiding it.

Well, I think what the British people really want to know is…

IQ: Stop it.

OK. Honest answer. Have you got a calculator?

IQ: Yep.

OK. What year is it?

IQ: Well, if you don’t know, I don’t.

There’s nothing we can do then, apart from we’ll have to open that card and take a guess about how just early we think it might be.

There we are then. I’m now fairly confident that it’s ‘over fifty.’

Thank you for your question.

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