I write a blog every day. I write it hastily, errors abound. Sometimes I am almost serious and banging some gavel of indignation, sometimes it is just a few silly thoughts on nothing much really. Today it is the latter.
Reading My Friend Mr Leakey to my son this evening, the inevitable thought emerged that in a future not too far away, there will be no more bedtime stories. There are many Roald Dahls and Horrid Henry’s to get through yet, he’s only 5 and 3/4 years old, but in the foreseeable future, the stories end. Reading will become his private world, not the chance for his dad to do voices and imagine for a few minutes that he is Oliver Postgate. Your children become your pencil marked doorframe that charts the passing of your time now your height is reasonably constant.
On the other side of things, I think of that first time you worry about your parents getting home. After all those years of their waiting up, their fears for the insidious possibilities of every journey you took, one day it is you who thinks, “I hope mum and dad got home safely, I’ll give them a ring just in case”.
This middle patch of being is a confusing but interesting time. I don’t see middle age as bleak or requiring a tattoo or motor boat. I have heard people say, “oh if I had my life all over again, I’d do things differently”. Well it’s not going to happen, so you might as well try and learn fast and put those lessons into actions. There was a comedian I once knew, who had also been in a band, and I think dabbled in art before that. Whenever he got to the point of mettle being tested, he pulled back and gave up for some spurious reason or other. If he gave up during those early stages of potential, then he could happily spend his life saying, “well of course I could have won the Turner Prize/Mercury Prize/Loaded Funniest One Liner About Tits award, but I didn’t want to”. He could safely live with a heap of imagined possibilities, secure in the knowledge of what would have been without the nuisance of a reality that might not have been.
At 44, you can start to take in what you have learnt so far and see how much you can improve on it still.
I have not been sick on a tube station platform since I was 19. Do not keep taking the drinks offered you on your birthday from the older people that you work with, and once you have a balance issue akin to a decaying inner ear, do not go for a pizza with them. Learnt and not replicated in 25 years.
I have not been sick into a carrier bag containing potato salad while on the upper deck of a bus since I was 23. Do not finish off the cheap complimentary wine at the bookshop you work at if it burns your lips on contact.
Unless entirely necessary, staying in is frequently better than going out.
You can only get away with appearing for so long on TV shows about Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing etc before it starts to be noticed that you don’t know any of the names of the contestants.
Any job where it is suggested teeth whitening or visit to a tanning salon may increase your chances of getting it, is not the job for you.
There is no point worrying about hair loss, if anything the worry will speed up the process.
I am no happily used to losing my hair, every family photo of every male foretold this. The only male to have a full head of hair was dead by 44. If the secret if living with a full head of hair is dying young, no thank you. I hope that death is similar to hair loss, you grow increasingly nonchalant the nearer you get to the age where it is inevitable. Just as I now look in the mirror and go, “hmm, at least it takes less time to dry”, should I get to 87 I hope I can look in the mirror and think, “good, I don’t need to bother buying anymore knees, I’ll be dead by tuesday”.
Today I have learnt another lesson, never allow your five year old to walk a large dog in big woods. The child will lose its grip on the lead, the dog will run off to where it wants to shit, and then proceed to somehow excrete on its own lead. You will then have to attempt to hold the dog by the non-soiled end of the lead for the final mile, all the time cursing and declaring your family morons as you had tried to insist on leaving the dog at home.
Also, try not to look shocked when you meet people your age and think, “but they look ancient, why am I so young looking?” You look your age too, but the mind plays a trick that makes you believe you look less wretched than you really are. At each new wrinkle, think of the wonder of Samuel Beckett’s face and the increasing horror of Burt Reynolds’ face.
oh, and think of all the has-beens who peaked in their 20s, by not achieving too much at least you are not on the downward slope. No one can say “weren’t you (fill name here) once?” because you haven’t been anyone yet (I mean on a celebrity scale rather than an attempt to hurl you into a quandary about your existence).
Whenever I see a headline that tells me some 50 something celebrity is “growing old disgracefully” because they’ve had a tattoo or piercing I think, “there is no disgrace in that”. It doesn’t make me think, they are outrageous and edgy with their new septicemia, I think, nothing screams “oh my god, I am getting older, arghhh arghhhh help me, look look I have a tattoo of Chigley on my butt cheek, please let me seem young again”
I like 44. It is just old enough to know that you don’t have to grow into cynicism and complacency, you can still be angry and passionate, but you can be angry in cardigans, which are so much more comfortable than army surplus fatigues.
I am on tour and off to Aldershot, Manchester, Radlett, Birmingham, Shoreham and many more. All dates are HERE
My latest DVD – Happiness through Science (incl Brian Cox commentary) is HERE