I have been quite reflective about turning 50 this week, with a few events happening around me that were unforeseen but challenging and exciting at the same time.
It was 10 years ago this week when I realised that I was no longer going to be married and it has certainly been ten years that have rarely been boring, if not a bit of a roller coaster at times.
What does seem to happen in our 40’s is that relationships will undergo severe tests of strength as some people grow whilst others stagnate and take a ‘happy with my lot’ attitude as financial stability shapes up on the horizon.
If one person stagnates whilst the other continues to evolve and look for new challenges, that is when it all goes pear shaped and that was the case with me as I couldn’t really face up to a countdown to death that if we are not careful, often comes with middle class stability and reading The Daily Mail too much.
I really admire the couples I know who have stuck with it and found ways of reinventing themselves with new challenges, because it is not easy and it is area where I failed but not without trying, at least a little bit anyway.
Conversely I feel a bit sorry for those who just go through the motions as the years speed by as you can’t, as yet, press rewind when you are 75 and wondering what the hell you have been doing for the last 30 years.
If you have grown and developed with your partner be grateful of what you have and don’t be hard on those who haven’t made it. I knew a couple who were unnecessarily dismiss to me when I didn’t get marriage right and that in my opinion is a shit way to carry on. Getting divorced is not a disease, it is just part of life.
Of course, when you drift back into the world of dating in your forties it is littered with excitement, challenges, and for me, in one instance, an utter fucking disaster with someone who was seemingly training for the world narcissistic championships aided by a bathroom cabinet that looked like an NYPD narcotics lab.
To make such a biblical self enforced error of judgement at the age of 45 took some doing but I did it with absolute aplomb, so let that be a lesson to you all if you do become single, as it could have quite easily emptied my bank account.
It was a traumatic period but was in many ways, the final making of me as someone who could actually take control of a situation and come out of it victorious. My negotiating skills at work have improved as a consequence of edging my way out of a precarious situation, so every cloud and all that.
Since then, everything seems to have fallen into place and become less complex with every view, walk, sunset, spring flower or autumn colour becoming ridiculously wonderful pleasure which of course, resulted in me getting a dog that will happily walk with me until I drop.
I have also been lucky enough to find a girlfriend who hates James Corden and the X Factor as much as I do, treating triviality, gossip and people who act as black holes for sympathy with admirable disdain. These may seem little things but they work for me.
The other thing I have embarked on is teaching myself history from the century I was born in. Virtually every night why I am alone at my own house, I read or watch documentaries about conflicts and political ideologies with unabated fascination with regards to the constant movement in the world order.
Its because of this I see the dangers of the Brexit movement and the blatant parallels with 1930’s fascism in the U.K. Fascism is a dangerous subject that would be taught to every child in every school if it hadn’t been so awkwardly associated with the establishment and the monarch. If you don’t believe me, do some reading.
My frustration at British subservience has always driven my interest towards freedom fighters (terrorists) and 20th Century campaigns across the world to overthrow authoritarian regimes and I often wonder, if in our British slumber, we would have the ingenuity to challenge a second coming of National Socialism if it ever arose.
So with that in my mind, I chose not to have a 5Oth birthday party, choosing instead to travel to Cork, a city central to republican uprisings of one hundred years ago. I was going to go to Northern Ireland but Jennifer didn’t seem over excited about looking at chilling sectarian murals on the walls of houses in flashpoint areas of Belfast and Derry, so that will have to wait.
Jennifer’s complex background that takes in India, Dubai, India, Tanzania and Portugal, also, remarkably, has Irish roots, with her ancestors on her mother’s side being called Byrne and originating from Cork. So as well as getting tipsy on Guinness and taking in a bit of pub music, I am sure there will be some some fascinating history and culture in a city the locals claim to be the real capital of the Republic.
I never imagined the thought of having a party would chill me to my bones but if I am honest, I couldn’t think of anything worse than trying to think up an invite list before scouring it wondering how many people didn’t like each other, who would be a pain in the arse, how much it would all cost and whether Mike Rossi would play ‘Going Underground’ or not.
In many ways, in my minds eye I can actually visualise how my 50th party would pan out and I know I wouldn’t enjoy it. So fuck that, I’m 50 now, I don’t need that nonsense, I really don’t.
It is interesting how people I know have been with regards to moving up to the big 5 zero with a lot of nostalgia flying around but I have never really gone in for all that looking back to golden eras that never really existed, it is all a bit delusional if you ask me.
I prefer to see reaching 50 as a time on being thankful of getting to such an age without too many health alarms and enjoying what I have and the community work I am involved in. Being chairman at Oakley Cricket Club is one of my great decisions of the last decade with regards to the rewards and friendships it has offered me, even if I didn’t manage a 50 on the pitch before I was 50 in terms of age.
So I do not really any regrets or longing for the past just some good memories but what I do try to install in my children is to not be too grown up in their twenties, as it is a brief period in life when we are at our physical peak without any of the worries of mortgages or kids.
When you exit your twenties, things are never quite the same but it doesn’t mean life has to be crap and seeing people perpetually longing for that time again makes me sad the last 20 years of their lives have obviously not been all that great.
Every time I walk my dog, see my kids score a 50 at cricket, DJ on university radio, or I nip off for a break with my girlfriend, I think life is great, even if there are political ideologies trying to wreck it all by turning a progressive nation into a seething mess that will only suit a tiny and incredibly wealthy minority.
The only thing that isn’t great about being 50, was the thought of having a party but it’s not because I am miserable, it’s just that I don’t want one.
Maybe I will have one when I am 60, but only if Mike Rossi is still alive and has a copy of ‘Going Underground’ on vinyl.
Right, I have a plane to catch.