My apologies if you’ve heard this one before. When I was 8 my dad turned 40. Following all the ‘life begins at 40’ crap he was being spoon-fed I decided, in my relatively innocent way, to turn this phrase inside out and construct a ‘joke’ that I was convinced both he and my mum would find funnier than Frank Spencer (played by Michael Crawford and who, as I was perpetually reminded, ‘did his own stunts’) slipping over in Elephant poo a la Blue Peter zookeeper.
The ‘gag’ if you will was to draw a gravestone on his card with ‘DAD RIP’ on it. ‘Ah ha!’ I thought, ‘life doesn’t begin at 40, death does! He’ll love this!’ Of course, he didn’t, in fact he was very upset and I was ushered to my room for the remainder of his 40th birthday with regular visits from mum telling me ‘dad was very upset’. And that is my first ever concept of turning 40, it’s not funny at all.
The first thing about being 40 isn’t dissimilar to the thought of leaving school at 16 when you’re a Junior. You just can’t imagine it. It’s outside the room. The first notion I had of it as a plausible event was when I was 28 after having survived the seminal ‘rockstar’ death-age. Not that I was ever a rockstar I hasten to add, it’s just the ‘I’m never going to be a dead 27 year old rockstar but I may be 40 one day’ reality were pretty much symbiotic. After that it’s merely a question of time.
Turning 30 was a pisser but not a problem, Bill Hicks and Jesus died in their early thirties so I still had a chance to achieve my fall-back goal of best ever stand-up and Messiah (these two labels are interchangeable) so when I didn’t 34 hit me hard. From that age life began to drag. My stop-gap job following my postgrad education became a permanent feature when I sort of accidentally bought my flat. Indeed, from 34 until early this year nothing really happened, I did a woefully inadequate bit of travelling, I got published a few times, I wrote a book… which despite its never having been published is an achievement of sorts, I guess.
Then for the last couple of years there has been Piqued, a sot of alter-ego in some respects but in others just ‘me,’ a forum in which to justify an existence, or not, depending on my mood, or my projected mood that may or may not exist. I wouldn’t say it’s a body of work I’m particularly proud of, at times I feel like I’ve nailed something despite my ropey command of punctuation, I simply can’t help myself but to do it… either way it’s been a reason to go to work for the past couple of years because I can lose an hour of my day doing something that I do like, which is this, writing for the sake of itself. Hearing the sound of my own type.
Now, four days off arriving in my 40th decade, on the surface, I feel very underwhelmed. Somehow I feel as if I’ve let myself down, I should’ve stuck at certain things instead of throwing them away. This applies largely to choosing money over a risky career as an art historian but I won’t go into detail, I worked hard for that university place especially after my dreadful education at secondary school. But then I realise that to look back like that is sheer bollocks for one fundamental reason. If I’d done anything different I would never had met the friends I’ve known since I was 28, in particular Den, Frank and Swineshead who in turn led to my meeting with IC. Again, I won’t go into detail because aspects of my personal relationships are forbidden on here, besides if I were to expand on the IC aspect you’d need a bucket to purge yourself of the sticky-sweet sentiment which would have no end.
I will say this though; I’m a lucky fucker. I’ve a family that I genuinely like, I have wonderful friends that really are ‘there for me’, yeah, I’m relatively healthy despite being a gifted drinker, I’ve survived numerous close shaves on the Black Bitch and, because of IC, I go into my 40’s happier than I’ve been since I discovered how to wank myself off.
That’s enough now, I’m done for 2008. Have a Merry Christmas and New Year. I’ll be back then and I’ll be 40. So fucking what, eh.