Getting older has never really bothered me. Being 30 or 40 meant nothing. There was no mental anguish, no depression at the passing of my youth. So why is it that reaching the age of 50 this weekend feels something of a milestone?
Last week I tweeted about how I was feeling and ended the tweet with the hashtag #midlifecrisis. It was gently pointed out to me that the age of 50 was a little way past ‘midlife’. Thanks for that.
The thing is, it’s got nothing to do with my own mortality, which, by the way, I don’t measure in years left. I count the number of World Cups I’ll still live to witness. At least six or seven I hope. No, even though my own mother’s death last month made me think a little more about lifespans, reaching 50 doesn’t make me think I’m on the way out. But it is salutary to think that I may only have a decade of my working life left. Indeed, there aren’t many radio presenters left who are over 60, although come to think of it, there aren’t that many over 50 either. Luckily publishing is somewhat less discriminating age-wise.
Landmark birthdays inevitably make one rather reflective, and lately I have been doing a hell of a lot of reflecting, thinking about what I have achieved in my life and what I have failed in. And then thinking about what I want to do in the next decade of my life. Charles Clarke said to me recently that every decade in his life had been better than the last one and that he has really enjoyed his sixth decade. I hope he’s right, as I fully intend to follow his lead.
I read somewhere a few days about a woman who has written a list of 50 things her husband should do in his fifties. And there’s even a book that tells me 50 things I should do in the next twelve months. So far I have resisted temptation, and haven’t bought it. But knowing me I will soon relent but then ignore its advice.
People seem to be very willing to offer me their own ‘helpful’ advice. “You can’t wear jeans after you’re 50,” said one friend, with an evil glint in her eye. “I expect you’ll be buying a flash car,” said another. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I went out yesterday and deliberately bought three new pairs of jeans, and I already have a car that’s quite flash enough!
Quite frankly, despite the fact I have been reflecting on reaching 50, I don’t expect an awful lot to change in my life, apart from wanting to have a little more downtime. With two full time jobs this is not an easy thing to achieve, but I am giving up the London flat and will now travel home each night. And I will work a little more from home. Well, that’s the intention.
I am now half way through a fortnight’s holiday. Well, when I say holiday, I use the word in its loosest term. For the first two days, despite having an Out of Office message on my email, everyone at my publishing company kept bombarding me with queries, most of which could have been easily answered when I was actually at work the previous week. I really am now trying only to look at email once a day. It’s like coming off crack cocaine. Well, not that I know how that feels, but I genuinely have email pangs. Sad, really. Perhaps that should be something else to change in my fifties – stop thinking the world ends if I can’t access my Blackberry every five minutes.
We’re renting a lovely house in Brancaster at the moment. Rather than have a big party in London, to which I would have to invite scores of people I didn’t really want to, we decided to be very low key and have family to stay, along with assorted friends. I would have given anything for my mother to have been alive to be with us, but I’m sure she will be watching over us as we all go paddling in the sea. She loved the Norfolk coast, and whenever I would walk along a Norfolk beach I would phone her so she could hear the waves. There’s nothing quite like the Norfolk coastline. I remember when I was at university in the mid 1980s and was going through a tough time emotionally, I would often drive up to Mundesley at midnight and walk along the beach alone with my thoughts. Somehow the crashing of the waves helped. One night at 1am I encountered a university friend on the beach doing exactly the same thing!
Yesterday was a bit of a washout holidaywise. It started raining mid afternoon so a trip down to the beach with the dogs didn’t seem a very good idea. John went into Norwich for what seemed like hours to buy some stuff for tonight. Somehow he and Pepi Simpson managed to contrive to spend two hours in the Macro Cash & Carry. While they were out my family start to arrive. They seemed rather impressed with the house. Nobody could be bothered to cook so we ordered Fish & Chips from the Ship pub just down the road. And our minds now start to the events of tonight. I am told I am going to get a lot of surprises. I have spied a PA system. Do you think John has booked Bjorn Again????