Birthday Cupcakes Never Shared With Kurt Cobain

It is strange to look down at my hands and realise they are now older than Mick Ronson’s ever were?
I share a birthday with Kurt Cobain, though I have celebrated twenty-one more than him now.
What have I managed to achieve in the years that he has not had?
I was certainly more violently booed at Glastonbury than he would have been if he had appeared there in 1998.
“Teenage dreams so hard to beat…”
I don’t believe that mid-life crises are caused by a new awareness of your proximity to death, but in the knowledge that you are further away from the self you imagined when you and your friends would lie awake, late into the dark, and imagine where you would be when you had the freedom to be who you wanted to be.
It’s 29 years since I was a teenager.
The problem with childhood dreams is that you see the poster with your name on, or the partner with the ring you gave them, but you don’t see the intricacies. This is why pop stars can whine so much when they seem to have everything. They imagined if they achieved idol status, then they would metamorphosise into a new being, but they are still stuck with being themselves except when the drugs are very strong.
My feet have walked for more than two decades longer than Otis Redding.
I have had the time, but not the inclination, to kill for five years longer than Ted Bundy.
I stopped writing poetry by choice, mine and other people’s, while younger than Lord Byron’s death age, but had I continued with the twelve years extra I have had so far, I still don’t think I’d be of interest to Faber and Faber.

When I lay in that bed, wondering who I would be, I hoped I would be a stand up comedian.
That happened.
By 25 years old, it was my life.
Sometimes I try to lift up this parochial cosmological shutter and see what else I could have been, but I don’t have the imagination to see any alternatives.

I have a child now, who I’ll try not to fuck up.
And a wife who I’ll try not to upset too much.

I once saw Barry Humphries performing as Sandy Stone, the soft suburban man of gentle melancholy, he spoke of trying to find time to tell his wife he loved her, but he was always too busy saying sorry.

Samuel Beckett becomes observational comedy at 48. It becomes funnier the dustier you become.

The modern mid-life crisis requires a different disdain for contemporary culture. It was the aggressive choppy guitars of rebellion or remixed beats per minute that disturbed the middle aged of the mid to late twentieth century. Some could curse the cacophony by explaining that they had fought a war for you and the imagined noise of youth in the Foxhole was never Sham 69.
Now the middle aged are angry about the mundanity of TV and the insipid tunes of conformity and computer generated lost love lyrics.

It’s not what they watch so much as how they watch it, heads down, earphones in, striding blindly down the high street.

It’s harder to curse the youth because the elders do it too.

My nostalgia was nostalgia when I saw it first. Sitting with my dad, watching The Avengers or Callan or trying to name the actor between Cecil Parker and Alastair Sim on the boating pond.

When I was at school, I would have a horrible dream in the first week of the summer holiday. It would be over already and I would be saying, “no no, we’ve only had a week, it can’t be time to go back yet”. I would wake up with an incredible sense of relief after I checked the school bus wasn’t waiting by the stop. But then I’d stop observing the days and suddenly they really would be gone and it really was the end. It was like the crash zoom final shot of a horror movie. And that is how it feels now. Will I stop paying attention and suddenly be weak-legged and on a drip.
During the holidays, I try and make myself bored so the time went slower, but then a tree would look particularly appealing to climb, and then it was toast toppers and another day done.

I am fortunate, my life is rarely boring, which is why I don’t like the sense of missing it as it goes by.
Tonight, I will engage with it by doing my first solo show for sometime at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and then I’ll panic over a book deadline. These are things I hoped for when i was young and now I have them. Lucky.
I won’t drink too much because I have reached the age where there are things to be done. Well, I might have a couple of extra shorts. I wonder what Mick Ronson would have been doing tonight?

I will be touring Australia and New Zealand with chums, including Josie Long. Dates and details are here (you can also find recordings of the live Q&As Brian Cox and I did on tour in 2016)

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1 Response to Birthday Cupcakes Never Shared With Kurt Cobain

  1. Simon Jones says:

    I’m 48 too and so much resonates, though I often wonder if the process of getting older is changing. I recognise the nostalgia, but as you say it was nostalgic even then. I look back, and my parents at 30 seem older in my memory than I do today. Technology is still my friend (mostly) and I don’t feel left behind in my technology job by people half my age.

    The one part that puzzles me is you. Whenever I’ve seen or heard you, your brain and body seem to be going at 100 mph (and not always in the same direction), but I always imagine that each day for you must last about a week for anyone else, which makes you nearly 350 by my reckoning. If that’s the case, you should be comparing yourself to Yoda rather than Mick Ronson.

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