Anybody who knows me would attest to the fact that I’m optimistic to the extreme. In the face of dire adversity my glass is not so much half full but already causing slight spillage. However, after the recent demise of 60’s icons Cilla and George Cole and the fact that I am shortly to celebrate (not sure that’s the right word – perhaps acknowledge works better) a milestone birthday I have found myself pondering the essence of mortality.
For reasons unfathomable to anybody with a normal brain, or ego, I have completely refused to take the ageing process seriously. I haven’t treated my body as a temple, actually I’ve treated it more like a theme park. I haven’t embraced quinoa, my clear liquid of choice is vodka not water and if you stick a 16ounce T Bone in front of me I’m an exceedingly happy camper. Clearly not the recipe for massive longevity…hold on a sec, just sparking up a fag.
Believe me when I say I don’t look in the mirror and see a much younger man, I see a bloke who carries the scars and baggage of a life lived to the fullest (edited to add, I do realise my definition of “fullest” is subjective). What I don’t see is an old man but then again is that a lack of wrinkles or surplus of confidence and denial?
We were all told when we were kids not to rush to get older. When we were young each birthday seemed so far away from the next, being grown up seemed so much fun and let’s be honest the early stages of being “grown up” are enormous fun. Being able to do what you want, discovering sex, getting “ripped” in Ibiza or Magaluf, spending money without consequence – footloose and fancy free.
And then it all changes.
We discover the grown up “grown up”. Dedication to a career, meeting the significant “other”, getting the mortgage and having the kids. Proper responsible adults. All this is absolutely fine, very commendable and in accepted Western society probably compulsory! Ah, the circle of life.
The trouble is that somewhere in the middle of all that stuff, birthdays no longer seem to be in the long distant future. The milestones just keep plummeting at you like an out of control train. Life begins at 40? If that’s true it’s a right bugger ‘cos before you know it up jumps 50 and then just as you try to get comfy with that 60 comes and slaps you round the head like a wet kipper.
After 60 life definitely becomes a “crap shoot”. Most of us will have dealt with the demise of our parents…as someone said once “we all become orphans in the end”. That will always leave its indelible mark but we had already accepted the inevitability, harder to deal with, perhaps, is the fact that we start to lose friends and family members, contemporaries get struck with awful debilitating illnesses and each day we have in good health and a degree of happiness is a bonus.
Personally, I never quite managed “normality”. With several failed marriages, some massive career highs and equally dramatic lows I have no one to blame but myself. However, I’ve met some wonderful people, travelled to amazing places, had some truly incredible experiences and last and by no means least fathered two amazing kids who I will always love unconditionally.
Regrets, I’ve had a few…la, la, la. But as I run through the video clips and sound bites in my head it makes a pretty cool movie and I was the “lead”. Thanks to the cast of hundreds who helped in making it all possible.
Will I leave a legacy? Well it certainly won’t be a shed load of money. I don’t think I recall doing anything that has changed or enhanced society and it certainly won’t be my massive intellect. Nevertheless, if I’m remembered for being a good and loving Dad, a decent mate, world class lover and a bloody good laugh that’ll do for me.
So, what lies ahead? Not the foggiest but I’d like to think I’ve got a fair bit of living to do yet. I know I’ve finally succumbed to the idea of being a “Grandpa”, I really never thought I’d say that. I want to see my kids settled and happy. There are still places I want to see and a few ambitions I am yet to fulfil so I have no plans to buy a pipe and slippers any time soon. One thing is for sure though, those poxy birthdays keep turning up way too frequently.
So raise a glass with me and shout out loud – “L’Chaim” to life!