Sound advice for a 16-year-old lad

Turn it down please: Placebo isn't suitable for your dad
Turn it down please: Placebo isn't suitable for your dad
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DEAR Colin,

Apologies for the unsolicited mail, young man, but I felt I should write.

See, I saw this book recently, Dear Me: Letters to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, and it reminded me of you.

In it, a load of notable people you’ve probably never heard of (and, frankly, most of them, neither have I) write to their younger selves offering words of wisdom. It’s not that good – certainly, you’ve not yet read Huckleberry Finn or Cider With Rosie so you don’t need to concern yourself with it – but it got me thinking.

Mainly it got me thinking ‘What a load of self-indulgent tosh’.

Which is actually similar to how this column is occasionally described – but then my mum always was a little over-critical.

In any case, that in turn got me thinking maybe I should write to you.

I know you have time to read it. You’re probably only playing Championship Manager right now (don’t buy Danny Murphy, by the way, he’s always injured).

So, first things first: you’re dad’s right; you need to turn that racket down.

It’s not just that it’s loud but consider this: here’s a bloke whose youth was soundtracked by The Beatles, The Stones and, um, Boris Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers and now you’re soundtracking his middle age with... Placebo?

Have a heart, lad, and reduce the bleeding volume.

And don’t call him a cue ball when you argue. He’s done plenty for you and he’ll do plenty more, and picking on a chap’s bald spot isn’t sport. Besides, the day will come when your locks are looking a little thin. That’ll learn you.

More music advice? Don’t wait until you’re 20 before you buy that guitar. Get one now, learn it well and later, in the white heat of a white spirit night, don’t smash it up because paying £300 for a replacement and a couple of hundred more for the door frame you’ve damaged isn’t rock ’n’ roll. It’s a pain in the ass.

More advice? Do less homework and read more books. You’ll learn more.

And stop drinking so often, already.

You have all your life to feel the dull ache anticlimax of being wasted but never again will you get to spend summer street-light evenings playing cricket with a lamppost as the stumps, a neighbour’s hedge as the boundary and a cute girl in silly mid off. You can’t play army tig in your 20s.

One day you’ll wake up and realise that’s done forever, and that searing sensation will be one of the most unpleasant things you ever feel.

Don’t be scared to be different boy, but, equally, there’s no need to be obtuse.

When you go to uni, please God, don’t put that Rudyard Kipling quote on your wall.

Maybe don’t waste your year out working in an office, but cherish your lazy streak. The eyes of the ambitious are always cold.

What else? Lose the flares, watch less TV, and always – Christ, absolutely always – take your own toilet roll to festivals.

Above all, enjoy the scenery. It flashes by kind of quick.

You’ll be all right, though, I reckon. Except, thinking of you sitting there, bored and indifferent, I wonder if you’ll ever change that much.

I wonder, when you’re 29, if someone from the future offered you advice, you’d even listen to what they say.

Best regards, young man.