Tuesday, 31 January 2012

50 And It's All Downhill From Here

You know when you turn 50.

Apart from the cards and messages of sympathy, funny things seem to happen. I spent my birthday with a taxidermist. I was there on quite another matter altogether, and not discussing the quality of embalming fluid which could be used on me if I so desired to be stuffed.

I did once sit next to an extraordinary old lady at dinner once. Pompously and trying to elicit some small talk, I asked her:

'And what do you do?'

'I stuffed Lenin,' she replied. And that was that. My small talk in the area of stuffing Soviet Communist Leaders was non-existant. I therefore spluttered and turned to the lady on my right, avoiding the question: 'and what do you do?' just in case the reply was equally out-of this-world.

Turning 50 allows you the luxury of doing what the hell you want to do on your birthday. I think it is the first time I have done that since I was 4. the usual strange things happened as I was driving along. I passed a horse and rider, whose right hand clasped a mobile phone to his ear and his left hand was wrining something down on a folded notepad. Where the hell the reins were, it was best not to think about.

Around the next corner there was a traffic jam. A bus had embedded itself int the back of a post van. Or the post van had pushed its rear into the front of the bus. I do not know which. Either way, it meant that there would be a delay to delivering the mail that morning. My mail. My birthday mail.


In hindsight I wish it had been delayed for longer. I received five cards with the number 50 printed on the front in large, glittery raised type. Two cards with the word 'OLD' prominently written. One with a badge with 'I am 5', several with various cryptic remarks and one which pronounced in pastel colours: 'With Deepest Sympathy.'

Victor Hugo compounded my happy day by writing: 'Forty is the age of youth. Fifty is the youth of age.' Just what I needed, a Gallic attack on your birthday.

I think he will be proved wrong. I am looking forward to my twilight years. Probably because that medical science will be so advanced that I will live to a great age, with the occasional visit to the garage/hospital for something similar to an oil change and filter replacement.

Watch out. Here comes the first 100-year-old bus driver.

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