British Prime Minister Theresa May's awkward dancing has caused amusement in some circles, though not among those of us old enough to have witnessed young people cringing on our behalf.

Maybotic dancing in public might not be your particular downfall, but there are other ways to make the kids recoil in horror. No matter how streetwise and youthful you may feel, you are a cringe bomb waiting to go off in their faces.

You think you will never become one of those old types who embarrass young people (because you're not wearing your specs on a chain! You have Instagram! You have a feature wall painted raspberry, and a Berber rug! You can do a headstand - with a lot of preparation, and a wall and a cushion.) But yes, you will. Yes, you are. You, who once went to a (sort of) secret Rolling Stones gig, have the potential to cause cringeing on a par with poor Theresa May, and it is important to be aware of this so you can minimise the stress you're causing. If you answer yes to six or more of the below, you're a cringe-maker like the rest of us ...


You use the following words:

Totally (used to be ironic, not really any more). Insane (as in really good). Funky. Hip. Trendy. Street. They hate all those. Some words they think you are too old to use (babes, wassup), some words they think are just lame (ethnic) and some words (yob) they find plain offensive.

You are considering buying some black dungarees

This is an easy mistake to make. You convince yourself they are just like black trousers with a bit extra in front. Your children are thinking WTF, even Heidi Klum is too old for those. Also in this vein: anything leather. Anything sheer (the young people live in fear of seeing grown-ups' underwear. They don't want to be ageist but they are slightly uncomfortable during bikini season.)

You dance with your arms in the air

They think it's funny, until the arms go in the air.

You talk to strangers

Shop assistants, waiters, people at the bus stop. They find it excruciating if you ask an opinion, as in: "don't you think he could do with a size up, they look a bit tight to me?" They cannot bear it when you speak to the waiter, full stop, but especially if you ask which, of the starters, he would have - and why. If you get chatting to the Uber driver about where he's from - that's probably their worst public interface.


You talk about sex

Which you never do, but using the word "sexy", as in "He used to be so sexy" or "Yes, but obviously there was nothing sexual about it". Not happy at all. They don't like the way you pronounce "sexual".

They hate it when you say "Ooh I quite fancy him - which one is he?" when they are watching the cricket/football.

You talk about the amazing place you have just been on holiday

The word "locals", the idea that you think you have been getting on with the locals. Unbearable.

Causing a scene (from their POV)

As in when you have to tell the bloke who charged $400 to fill in the cracks in the front steps that he has not done a good job and will be doing it again for free. Or hollering at people to pick up their dog turds. This is 10 on the cringe scale, with bells on.

Oh hang on, accents

They hate accents, even your excellent Russian one. Even your Ulster one (not that easy).

And impersonations - Liam Gallagher walking (well known to be spot-on).

The new rites of parenting-passage:

Forget the first steps, words and days at school - these are the real parenting rites of passage:

• Being accepted as a Facebook / Instagram friend. Once it was social death having you on there and lo-behold should you comment on anything they posted. Now they think it's a good way of keeping in touch and quicker than a phone call to let you know where they are.

• Arguing about drinking (yours, not theirs). It used to be the case of a father taking a son to the pub for their first pint - now they're having quiet words with you about your units and asking whether you really need to open another bottle?

• Watching Love Island with them. There's no more us and them TV. You're probably more into and up to date with "their" programmes than they are, come to think about it.

• They are in charge of finding you The (next) One. You'll thank them for it in the end. Probably.