Turns out I’m getting old. Well old-er. I still haven’t quite got the grasp of falling into a stereotype for my age. Probably because I’m a bit of a bol**x when it comes to doing what I’m supposed to do. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly James Dean or anything –no. Jaysus you’d want to see me driving! Speed limits, yellow boxes and disabled parking spaces are there for a reason. But I’m a bit selective. There always has to be an exception and those rows of empty family parking spaces outside Tesco especially on a Tuesday morning in the shagging rain? Well like I say -I break the rules – sometimes… a bit… Especially on Tuesday morning outside Tesco when it’s pelting down.
Its nearly my birthday. Woo-Hoo! Not quite, still a couple of days to go. One of the things about getting older, is that birthdays lose their impact. I tend to remind people so they will at least acknowledge it… go on feel free… see I’m doing it here. But the point is that I think the more you start running out of them, the less you look forward to them. Maybe that turns around again when they really start getting scarce?
In a couple of days from now, I literally get a year older. Now when I was seven, I was never seven. I was seven and a half or seven and three quarters. There was a rush to be older. Funny how that changes isn’t it? Now me being me, my impending birthday got me thinking of some, mostly irrelevant things about my life. Like for instance, I worked out that I have driven over one million Kilometres in my life. If I strip that back to hours I was awake during the time since I first learned to drive, this means I have spent an astonishing 11.5% of my waking hours in a car since I learned to drive! Bizarrely I’ve never been in a serious car accident, although a small boy once ran out in front of me and went over the top of my car. He was uninjured as he was small, bouncy, and most of the momentum came from him running into me. I was driving very slowly in heavy traffic in Wicklow town at the time. That scared the living bejaysus out of me I can tell you, but fortunately he was unhurt.
I’ve travelled the globe and I couldn’t possible count my air miles throughout my life as apart from holidays, I have always travelled several times a year for work. My carbon footprint must look like a feckin’ Yeti’s.
Importantly when taking stock, the good stuff is nearly taken for granted and the loves of my life, my children and my darling Jo, are always going to make a constant and welcome impact on my soul as I deal with all the crazy. But for the purpose of this thought process, I will leave out this part of my life, for it represents all that is good about me, and I’m kinda going off on a ‘where did I leave mucky paw prints’ rant, as opposed to a ‘how lucky am I’ one.
I’ve eaten a lot of cheese. Not sure how that fits in the grand scheme of things but it surely has some significance and while I can’t work this out in kilos, I’m confident it is sufficient to have sustained at least one person in permanent employment. I’d say the same for chocolate, red wine and coffee. So you could say, I am vital to the Irish if not global economy in some small way. What else have I done?
I’ve…and for those of a sensitive disposition, pardon me now… I’ve broken my fair share of wind over the years. I wouldn’t in anyway like to suggest I have contributed inordinately to global warming or anything, but I’m sure if it were measureable, I would be surprised by just how much gas has been produced by this otherwise generally pleasant carcass of mine.. Truth be told, as we don’t produce methane I’m not even sure if our emission of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, actually impact the ozone layer at all, then again – I’m no expert. But it has to have had some impact.
Purely for scientific reasons of course and partly because I couldn’t resist looking it up, I did some calculations based on average human emissions, and It would appear that I would need close to 60,000 empty milk bottles to store what has basically leaked out of this slowly rotting carcass of mine over the years. It might be all the cheese. To be fair, I have denied responsibility for at least 40,000 of these.
I ran a lot, mostly in the early part of my life, so I’ve covered a fair bit of ground including one memorable Bicentennial Dublin City Marathon n 1988. I have scored goals, trys and countless baskets in pursuit of sporting joy but again, it’s been a while. I was always fairly healthy until my heart one day decided it had had enough, took its ball, and walked off the pitch as if to say “I’m not playing anymore” albeit temporarily.
Lord knows how many miles I’ve walked, especially with the three mutts we have now and I’ve even managed to swim in a few different oceans, one unwittingly in the company of sharks late one night, but that’s another story.
Apart from the cheese, I have eaten a very wide variety of food and never shirked when someone told me I was eating snake or octopus. When I lived in Australia for a bit, I lived near and worked in the heart of Melbourne. That was great because, there were literally restaurants specialising in cuisine from the four corners of the globe. Back then Dublin was much more monocultural, so I hadn’t had the same exposure to such a wide variety of international cuisine. Now of course times have changed. Even in our own little home town, you can get Thai food, Indian, Chinese, Argentinian, Italian, French and on it goes. My – we have all become so global.
I come from a time when Spaghetti was exotic and curry was rumoured to be a flavour that foreigners used, to cover up the taste of spoiled meat! God be with the days we were ignorant of anything that didn’t exist outside of a ten mile radius.
I’ve seen a lot. The first man on the moon, the first Irish woman president, Dolphins rising in a pod against an azure sea, Ireland beating England in the Euro’s in 1988, the Irish Rugby team beating the All Blacks in Chicago. I have born witness to many incredible moments. I was there to see my beautiful children take their first breaths, my father sadly take his last, and all that has transpired before and since. I have looked into the eyes of the girl I truly love and I have seen the most spectacular sight of all. I see it every day and count myself lucky indeed.
Bad things have happened and I won’t list the disasters that have befallen us Irish or the rest of the world, but of course these are not unique to me. Over the years I have accomplished many things, most notably, learning to eat, crawl, walk and talk, none of which I recall but all of which are probably far more significant than anything I have done since.
The problem of course, is that there is that there is still hopefully such a long way to go. A problem you say! Yes – a problem. You see while the auld noggin is willing, the auld flesh is complaining more and more as each number gets added to my age. If there is a bit of me that doesn’t at least occasionally creak, I have yet to discover it. Back when I was a scrawny, skinny arsed youngfella, it was grand. I could jump off sheds, get tripped and fall repeatedly playing sports, run more miles than I should and still be fine the next day.
Nowadays if I paint ten metres of coving, I need at least a week to recover before I can move on to the next room. This whole spirit is willing thing is a load of horseshite. So I have had to adapt and adopt. I’m hardly on my last legs or anything, but I have had to learn to slow the feck down. I still haven’t quite got the hang of it, but I’m getting there.
My adaptations are creeping in. Saying no sometimes helps. I used to be a ‘I’ll do that’ type of volunteer, now I’m more of a ‘ Here Mick- you spend your day in the Gym, lift that over there for me will ya’ type of guy. I have adapted to recognise that just because I can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean I should do something. The heart attack helped bring me around on that one.
But like I say, there are lots of miles left on the clock and I’m really looking back at work done as opposed to, things to do here. Like the rest of you, we recognise certain milestones. We openly celebrate big marker dates like 18th birthdays, 21st birthdays and then they spread out. We start to celebrate decades. You hit 30 and 40 and 50 and we reserve special celebrations for these. This year my birthday will not have a zero at the end, so it will pass relatively unmarked.
I find it a little bit sad, because while I hate fuss, I still feel about ten years old inside and I still love the anticipation of surprise presents and all the build-up that used to happen when I was a nipper. It seems silly now, but I guess it doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always be a little boy in many ways.
Maybe it’s because I still hold perhaps one of the few fond memories about myself from my childhood, very close to my heart. Back in the day, I spent a few years where basically the best thing Santa could bring me, was a cowboy suit or a new set of guns and a holster. I asked Santa early one year for a very particular reason. I wanted a new set of pearl handled colt 45’s.
As my birthday falls exactly one month before Christmas, I asked for a Winchester rifle so I would have a complete new set of guns come Christmas morning. Back then asking for both from Santa would have been greedy, so I strategically asked for one thing on my birthday and the rest from Santa. Up there for dancin’ as they say.
My Mam and Dad gave me the most spectacular toy rifle for my birthday, It was a Winchester repeating rifle with a white handle and the stock was shiny silver. It came in a box covered in imagery from the Wild West. I could have cried. It is a story I have used before in my writing as it evokes such a fond memory, but for the uninitiated, I kept the rifle, still in its box, untouched until Christmas day, so it would be in perfect condition, just like the pistols that Santa was going to bring. I engaged in an emotional month long, exercise in delayed gratification, that I doubt any other child could have managed.
Looking back I still cannot believe that the tiny excited little pony that I was, could maintain such discipline and it is one of the few moments in my life where I look back and feel so very impressed with my tiny little self. But it does make me feel sad because, I remember so much more about that time and my big old heart becomes truly that of a child once more when I think of those times. I guess I miss my little self.
But enough nostalgia, they say it’s not what it used to be. Onwards and upwards I say. I’m nursing a few wrinkles until I get them just right, and doing my best to avoid turning into a grumpy old man in the coming years, so that’s enough to be getting on with for now. I will undoubtedly start to act my age one of these days, something I am trying hard to avoid. So if you see that happening at any point, do us a favour will you? Give us a kick in the arse…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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