25 things that every man should know by the age of 25

You’ve had enough porn for one lifetime mate

Men, frankly, are pretty awful. Our track record, a strewn wake of pure testosterone, is not great. And before you say men invented sewage systems and medical science, they also managed to create the H-bomb and the lazy fuckers still haven’t cured cancer. There’s a lot of work still to be done.

Some get better as they age. At least they try harder. Unfortunately we can’t just lock all the men up and keep them in a boot camp for dicks until they’re 25. So, taking the risk of sounding like I know everything better than everyone else, here are the 25 things every man should know by the time he’s 25:

1. Pick a lager, a spirit and a cocktail and stick with them until you die

Me: Stella, Johnnie Walker Black, Old Fashioned. You: you? You don’t know what to order because you haven’t made your mind up. At the bar you’re all fingers and thumbs with your wallet, all erms and squirms and ahhhhs with the bartender. This is one of the only things you will ever have power or control over in your entire life. Make some choices and stick with them.

2. Porn is quite gross

Thought experiment: you walk in on yourself – yes, you – rubbing yourself to fruition. You’re naked, lying in your own filth like a satisfied pig and on the screen two dead-eyed addicts are smashing their offal together for your enjoyment. This isn’t fun is it?

3. You know your drug limit and you stick to it

It’s 4am and the walls of the warehouse are pulsing. People are glistening, happy. You’ll have a dab at this point but you’re definitely not going to pay for anything. Good decision.

4. The gym isn’t just for out of control towers of beef-cake, destined for failure in life

That’s what you thought at school, but it’s less true now, when women are pointing out the double chins on your Bumble profile, animated by real disgust. You don’t even have to go to a ‘gym’ gym. Go outside, chop some pieces of wood into some smaller pieces of wood. Push a car up a hill. Just don’t accept being overweight.

5. You might actually be depressed, but then again…

… you could be experiencing normal, common feelings of loneliness, sadness. The only way you’re going to work this out is by talking to someone. And I don’t mean some helpline, or a GP. Talk to someone who knows you, who can accurately detect the changes in that fluttering inner life of yours.

6. Be political but don’t be smug about it

We all have some Strong Opinions about the world, without really knowing a damn thing about the world or how it works. This is fine and natural. What isn’t fine and natural are those astonishingly lengthy tirades guys post on Facebook about Trident or ISIS or Trump. That’s vanity.

7. Read but don’t be smug about it

The greatest, most glorious masterpiece of your life is to read and read well: to learn, to live, to imagine. Don’t say any of that out loud though.

8. You’ve learned to be honest about the weird sex stuff you usually only do when you’re completely wasted

OK, so if you’re doing a lot of anal play but only after half a dozen negronis, you should probably think about biting the bullet and doing it sober at some point.

9. You know how to roast many things

Chickens. Lambs. Ducks. Cows. All have taken happy visits to your oven.

10. Being easy to mock yourself doesn’t disincline you from taking the piss out of vegetarians

Honestly, there are very few things a man can safely take the piss out of anymore. Most vegetarians are earnest and lack irony. Never stop reminding them how shit Quorn is.

11.The news is something you don’t take seriously

The world is more peaceful, more democratic and more just than it ever has been. If you’re gay this is the only time in human history you’d want to be born in. Watch the news, with its endless bloodbaths, its senseless catastrophes, its coiffed and hateful personalities. The news no longer reflects reality.

12. If you haven’t learned to drive, you’re certainly not going to bother now

File this one under, “fuck it, may as well just wait for the robots to do it for me in like, five years time”.

13. Unplug all the video games

Look, I’ve played FIFA. I’ve done my time on Grand Theft Auto. And what do I have to show for it? I have some plastic cases, some dusty hardware and hours upon hours of time I could have spent learning how to chirpse properly (seriously, I’m still dreadful) or learning an instrument, or a language, or something about the human condition.

14. Sleep is for losers

Nabokov said that the world is divided between people who sleep well and people who don’t. I’d offer an addendum to that: there are also people who choose to sleep less, so they can do more. Be one of them. You can sleep once you’re dead.

15. It’s impossible to get this old (so, so old) without losing some friends

If all you have in common is the past, it’s probably time to let them go.

16. Trainers are Pokemon cards for men who don’t want to grow up

This might be hideously out of touch, but what the fuck is going on with men and their footwear. They’re obsessed with their feet right now and all it amounts to is further evidence of our failure to grow up and be less shit.


She just looked over at me while she was making the tea, maybe she, hang on is she smiling at me – SHE DOESN’T FANCY YOU. Chrriiiiist she is gorgeous, look at her… well look at her everything, is this the fittest woman I have ever seen on the platform at Liverpool Street – SHE DOESN’T FANCY YOU. Wow, that brief 30 second chat about where the toilet is might be the lengthiest discussion I’ve sustained with a girl at a house party – SHE DOESN’T FANCY YOU EITHER MATE.

18. There’s nothing wrong with doing stuff alone

Our search for role and guise and form usually involves other people. It usually prioritises other people. Sometimes it’s good to tell other people to leave you alone. You could even use the time to start a diary you will never, ever  update.

19. The “men’s rights” movement makes ovaries shrivel

Male rights. Male consciousness. Male pride. Male grandeur. Male rage. They’re not alright are they? They’re quite frightening, aren’t they? There are many grosser violations of human rights occurring right now than the fact that men are being told to follow that simple ethical precept: don’t be a dickhead. Let’s deal with those violations before we get too hung up on ourselves.

20. Social media isn’t real life – it’s more important than that – and you’re upping your game

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone who’s nearly dead has told me that Facebook isn’t “real life”. Maybe not for you, chuck, but for me, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat are the gateways into culture, sex, thought, experience. They are indivisible from life, an augmentation of it, a way of improving it, perhaps infinitely. Nothing in the 21st century will prove more significant than these platforms and the platforms that follow them.

21. Never refer to anybody as ‘pal’

Especially when they’re not.

22. Novelty T-shirts are for virgins

References to films nobody else has seen in casual conversation are an appalling social faux pas, so why have you decided to have a weapon from something you describe as the “Alien vs. Predator franchise” printed on what would, in better circumstances, be a fine black t-shirt.

23. Actually, you don’t need to listen to music constantly, all the time, wherever you are and wherever you’re going

Walking down the street: cars full of potential violence, living trees, distant and unreal buildings, tower blocks, upper class pricks and regional yobs, women walking tiny dogs you could punt a good 30 metres if you wanted to, omnipresent pathetic fallacy, queasy apocalyptic foreboding, a shimmering, soulful extra-physical angst.

You can experience all of that, if you want to. But not if the voice in your ear is going work work work work work work. 

24. You should speak to your parents

Weird thing about your rents: they’re exactly the same as you. Mad isn’t it? Everyone realises this at a different time, but by 25, you and your Dad’s conversations should’ve become more serious than merely dissecting what an enormous prick Joey Barton is.

25. Know hope

You’ll never do anything useful if you don’t.