I was surprised, approaching my 30th birthday, to find myself thinking about my own mortality. I’ve tried very hard indeed to dissemble the event altogether; certainly I consciously played down the trepidation that started to fill my head at the very prospect of April 25, for no good reason, Jungian and unwilled. I’ve attempted to puncture the pomp and ceremony by organising what I’ve called an anti-party, which has worked to some extent (if you haven’t had an invite yet, then do ask: it might mean I’ve just mislaid your most recent email address).
Yet I feel—briefly—far more awful at the approaching fourth decade than my physique, my prospects or my lifestyle ought to warrant. Arguably: I do not claim to be oil painting, millionaire or hedonistic aesthete, respectively. I suppose everyone views the middle milestones with a similar mindset: these anniversaries are neither symbol-heavy totems of youth nor senescent reliefs compared to the alternative. That commonality is reason enough, though, not to bore you with my particular musings on life and the world. For a start, nobody will stop press for the experiences of another angst-ridden shiney-on-the-inside/worn-through-on-the-knees ageing indie child. And besides, most of my mates are over 30 themselves and sick of my yapping.
If only Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby and other such penny-a-pagers had thought a few moments, about whether or not there was a gaping chasm in the landscape of contemporary semi-fiction for their own ramblings on mid-life second adolescence. Then they might have put their pen down, dropped their heads into their hands, taken a deep breath through their teeth and started writing about something else. They might even have entirely discarded writing as a career and taken up gardening instead. All this assumes that they’re not both dicks all the way through to their dusty, crumbling core.
So I won’t dwell on my own experience of growing older. Today’s me is not really much different from yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. Instead, I can only attempt to undermine the fourth age of man—the self-obsessed miserablist, barely distinguishable from the previous one and a half—by letting you all know how much a pleasure these thirty years have been, on the whole, and thanking all of you that have shared them with me.
Each year has been more fun than the last, and seemed to contain more until the recent couple have been fit to burst. At this rate, after another thirty years (oh, how the clichés stack up!) I will be in positive ecstasy and running round like a lunatic. At least it keeps me active, my carer will grudgingly admit over some space-age futuristic cigarette.