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Home > Culture and Society

Middlescence: A Terrible Case of the Bobsplats

19 May 2006

Problems. We've all got them, and there are many theories about the best way to deal with them: counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, boring your friends shitbrained. But surely the best has got to be: make some money out of them.

Step forward the US 'researchers' who invented the term 'middlescence', as featured in the 'report' 'Managing Middlescence', published by the Harvard Business Review recently.

'Middlescence' refers to workers aged between 35 and 54 who are hacked off with their jobs. It appears to deal solely with disgruntled office workers (there's no mention of the cost to your soul of assembling cardboard boxes in a Viking Stationery distribution depot in Elephant and Castle) and their sense of ennui as they realise life is a bit crap.

And what a miserable shopping list of woes it is. Signs that you're suffering from middlescence include:

* Becoming disillusioned with the company you work for
* Resenting your boss's much higher salary but only marginally higher skills level
* Finding your work boring
* Finding your skills out of date
* Disillusionment about how your life fails to measure up to youthful ideals
* The hassle of commitment and responsibility, e.g., elderly parents and children

And a litany of other facts of life. The genius of 'middlescence' is that the researchers got paid for it. It's the kind of thing you've got to have a grudging respect for, in the way that you've got to have a grudging respect for weirdo and total nobody Matthew Hopkins, who realised he could get on by murdering innocent women and proclaiming himself Witchfinder General. (We sincerely doubt that Hopkins even had an NVQ in Witchfinding, frankly.)

Of course, the problems suffered by the middlescents are all real and distressing aspects of life. But they're so banal they may as well have added:

* 'Return of the Jedi' could have been a great film were it not for the Ewoks;
* I've gone up a dress size;
* I watched 'Crimewatch UK' and WPC Jacqui Hames wasn't evenon it.

It's like listening to a friend who just won't stop going on about their problems. You can (and should) be sympathetic, but there comes a point where you have to ask: 'So what are you going to do about it?'

For the middlescent, the answer seems to be: either get a new job or go and write your own Harry Potter, or just accept you were never meant to be special. Better still, why not think about getting some sort of ridiculous 'research' job and come up with spurious new social groups? You could be the first person to identify and exploit the inexorable rise of Bobspats (Bleeding Obvious Barrel-Scraping Pseudo-Academic Twat-Speak). There's a book in it for sure.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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