We own houses and run the economy, but it’s not all roses being a Boomer

We Baby Boomers control everything, at least that’s what I read. Not that I consider myself one, despite falling exactly within the parameters. Anyway, whether I am or not – I am! – here’s the truth: we don’t control much at all.

Well, OK, we control the economy and own all the houses, and have the power to decide whole elections on our irrational love of surplus franking credits, but when it comes to other stuff, we’re out in the cold.

Yes we have money, houses and power, but we can’t see.

Yes we have money, houses and power, but we can’t see.Credit: iStock

Try being served in a bar. The bartender can spot you, but only if the hotel is clear of any other human. Throw in a gaggle of lithesome 20-somethings, and your chance of being served is reduced to zero. The US military should forget its stealth bombers and hire Baby Boomers to infiltrate enemy lines. We would employ our powers of total invisibility.

The volume of music in restaurants and shops is set by the young people who work there. Their young ears – much like ours a few decades back – can differentiate between multiple sources of sound. They can enjoy the music, yet still understand what the customer is saying. Alas the customer, if the customer is past 50, cannot hear what is being said back.

And then we come to type-size. The Art Gallery of NSW is celebrating the work of a brilliant artist who created world-beating work into her late 90s. Alas, by that age, Louise Bourgeois would have been hard-pressed reading the minuscule signs that the gallery has installed to describe her work.

I’m not sure I can accurately name the type size. Probably 14 point, but placed on a darkened wall next to a brightly illuminated artwork. Even with good eyesight, the signs are so small and dimly lit they can only be read by one person at a time, so people hover for a while, form a loose queue, and then give up. Even the young are forced to lean in and squint. A magnifying glass, tied to the wall next to each sign, might help.

It would be ageist to suggest that I can’t manage to get down on the floor in order to read the captions. I can. The question is whether I can get up again.

There’s no shortage of space. Each minuscule sign is situated on a vast expanse of blank wall. Why are the signs so small? I guess it looks more stylish, and surely that’s the main thing. Ah, minimalism: the less of something, the better.

It’s even worse up the road at the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney. The old Nicholson and Macleay Collections have been spruced up, presented in an elegant purpose-built structure. Naturally, the signage is stylish as well: not only using the ubiquitous tiny type, but this time placed low – very low – on the wall. It’s just above floor level.


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