On becoming 50

On 15th April 1963 I emerged into the world by the hand of nurse Murray in the Parish of Keyworth in the house where my parents still live today on Laurel Avenue, Nottinghamshire. Dr Annesley pronounced me a boy and the boy is now me fifty years on. Well, at the time of writing, 50 years and 2 days…I’ve been busy! I don’t really feel like I’ve got to this age and done anything particularly profound, I haven’t achieved anything of worth either academically or career-wise and if I’m being honest with myself I’ve made a succession of wrong choices at some of the most pivotal times of my life prompted by laziness, indecision, fear, procrastination and ignorance. I am not by any means dissatisfied with where I am now because with my son, wife and family I am quite content and do what I can for them. However, as a teenager I had no specific vision of where I wanted to be when I grew up other than be a drummer in a rock band living out of the back of a van if it came to it but I allowed myself to be persuaded this was a non-starter and that I should strive to obtain a minimum of 5 ‘o’ levels at school and get a job. I did get 5 ‘o’ levels, failed my ‘A’ levels (I couldn’t be arsed) and ended up in office jobs dreaming of getting better educated, buying a Premier drum kit, travelling the world, moving to London etc etc without taking the slightest steps to achieve these dreams. And to this date I still do this sort of work and detest it. So much for dreams.

Of course I know in many ways my life is very good. I have a wonderful son and a loving wife – my second wife; my first wife and mother of my son died of cancer 9 years ago – and 3 super step-kids. I have a house which is paid for, a car I love and we do great stuff together like go on holidays, eat great food and love one another. But I just reached 50. I feel in fact as if I’ve reached a mid-way point. Not that I expect to live to be 100 because I would expect to be running out of faculties even if I did live that long but I rather feel that I’ve reached the end of the incline and now begin the descent into decline. Not immediate decline but a slow gradual decline which will ultimately culminate in death and whatever that brings. But for some reason I feel more optimistic now than I did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago because this is me now, this is who I am, I know and understand me now after all this time and although the opportunities are more limited to me than they were when I obtained my 5 ‘o’ levels more than 30 years ago I feel that I am sufficiently placed and confident to realise what dreams I now have or will have and achieve them. I am finally in control.

I have the Internet which is more of a guide, a source of education and inspiration than any teacher who ever taught me at school. And also, I have to be honest here, more than my parents who in spite of their loving well-meaning intentions directed me in ways that I was ill equipped to succeed in or prosper. If I had perused my own dreams of being a drummer I may well have failed but I would have failed on my terms but I allowed myself to fail on somebody else’s. Sometimes I can surprise me such as when I paid for myself to obtain an FA Coaching badge, pushed myself forward to coach a junior football team which I have noe been doing with great pleasure and (dare I say it?) success for the past 6 years. I have a blog, a Moleskine notebook a Wunderlist account and a wife who shares and inspires ambition in me to travel. When C (my wife) reaches the same aged milestone as me in December 2020, we plan to take a 12 month career break in 2021 and travel the world. I am yet hoping I do not suffer the heart attack my dad did at the age of 56 or the stroke he suffered 2 years later or the angina he developed 2 years after that or require the triple heart by-pass operation he had 2 years after that – although at 83 and in rude health he is a great advert for the National Health Service! Luckily my job is not stressful, I have not had a cigarette since my first wife’s funeral, I eat pretty well, go to the gym but do probably drink too much along with C at weekends. But travel is a wonderful goal to achieve and following our recent trip to Berlin we have so much to look forward to enjoying together because travel can be a walk down the road hand in hand or a far off journey to somewhere yet to be discovered. And my wonderful son who I can watch grow older, encourage him and nurture him to follow and peruse his dreams.

Life’s good and getting better. Here’s to the next 50 years!

 

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List, at last!

The feeling! The freedom! The…the…the sheer joy! I’ve done it, I’ve made a list! OK, it may not be up there with Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ list but I bet he didn’t feel so blissfully empowered as I do having completed mine. You see, I am, after all, Lazy Bill. I don’t usually do things such as lists, I am, generally speaking, disorganised; I just do things when I have to with a minimum of preparation or pre-oganisation. But with my list in hand, I can say “I’m Prepared”, I have a plan and I’m going to make it work!

Right, I’ve calmed down a bit now, the euphoria is wearing off. So what is this list, I suspect you’re all wondering, that is causing such elation? Well, I’ll tell you. Next week, my wife is taking me to Berlin for a few days as part of the celebrations for my impending 50th birthday. We fly from Liverpool to Schonefeld Airport on Wednesday, spend a couple of nights at the Grand Hotel Esplanade and return on Friday. Now, normally when I go on a trip, I just get a large bag out the cupboard, scan my wardrobe, put a few clothing essentialls inthe bag, a shirt or two, t-shirts, toiletries and before I know it I’ve got enough clothing and accessories to last a month long cuise through the freezing Norwegian Fjords and crossing the Atlnatic for a sojourn across the Caribbean. But that’s not how it is this time…Oh no. this time I’m travelling light and I’m planning ahead!

Last Saturday we went to Manchester and I bought myself a 40 litre bag, just the right size to take into the cabin and this will carry my ‘stuff’ in its entirety.

My new North Face 'hand luggage' bag
My new North Face ‘hand luggage’ bag

The bag cost £120 and it has all the right dimensions get in an Easyjet cabin for free, so for a return journey that’s a saving of £50 so it’s already saved me about 40% of its value! And the list? Well, about 5 days ago during a quiet period at work I got a piece of paper out and made a list of all the clothing and toiletries I’m going to take. I’ve transferred it all onto useful little app called Wunderlist and I’m good to go! I’m even tempted to pack my bag now, a full 5 days before we set off just so I can feel doubly organised (and probably doubly smug).

It’s a little thing but in some ways means much to me that I’ve discovered, on the eve of my 50th birthday, that a little bit of forward planning and preparation has taken the stress out of a process I’ve always considered a dull and stressful chore which is one of those requirements that cause stress and anxiety which is at the root of my laziness and underachievement. Yes, it’s true, I avoid stress and anxiety like the plague so if its not worth doing I don’t do it and if it has to be done I do it at the last minute in a rush of stress fuelled adrenaline.

So, it’s goodbye stress and its goodbye anxiety. Lists are the future. If only I’d known 35 years ago.