Hi all. The 15th of November 2019 sees me hitting the big 60….whatever that means. Personally I find it quite odd how birthdays with a zero after them acquire more significance than any other birthday…or indeed any other day, period.
I was at my brothers house for dinner today….I’m writing this on 19th Oct…so several weeks earlier. And, like me, my brother doesn’t see anything significant to be celebrated at 60 that couldn’t equally be celebrated at 59 or 58 or 61 for that matter. As Paul McCartney said in his 1970 hit…It’s just “another day”.
BUT my wife and my sister-in-law insist that it should be celebrated. Have a party, have friends round, do something exciting. What would you like to do….Hmmm…?
It’s really not that easy.
I don’t want to insult or upset anyone’s good intentions. I honestly don’t. I was born in November 1959 in England. I was brought up in a small village, to the north of the city of Sheffield, called Grenoside. The kids I went to school with at the age of 5 or 6….THEY are my friends. The are the ones I hold most dear…as sad and pathetic as that may sound. Some of whom I kept in touch with, some who have already died….so relatively young for these days… and others who I’ve unfortunately lost contact with over the passing years, BUT I still think of all of them as good friends.
At the age of almost 30 my family emigrated to New Zealand and life thereafter tended to revolve around my kids (as it does)…..their school activities, sports etc. The people I associated with here in NZ were to do with school or football (I coached football/soccer at kids and adults level for around 15 years)….or from work. Once each phase ended, the kids grew up, moved out, injury stopped me from playing and coaching football….most of the “friends” I had made just drifted off. Sure I’d keep in touch on Facebook or say “hi” if we bumped into one another at the supermarket and we’d say to each other “Hey must catch up for a beer sometime” and we never do….but otherwise, pretty much nothing. Likewise with work mates. Once they changed jobs, or I moved on, either to another job or to the semi-retired state I find myself in today….no real contact (and yes I do realize that it’s a two way street and I could have made more of an effort than I have).
So, the years pass and something seemingly as simple as inviting my friends round to celebrate my birthday isn’t actually simple at all. As a human being….I am a bit sad and pathetic really…I admit it. My kids have moved on, got their own lives, got married…moved away from home, one’s even moved out of the country. My parents are both dead – for almost 5 years – and I miss speaking with them so much. It still feels strange not being able to call in to see them and spend some time. Other than my school friends back home in England, and my brother with whom I’ll enjoy an occasional beer, my best friends are my wife and my cat….and that’s the fact of it.
What do I want to do for my 60th? Do I want to have a BBQ, a party, go to the pub, have a weekend away at Lake Taupo? Not really no.
What I’d like to do firstly, is to walk in the woods where I used to play as a child, and where the ashes of my parents and my dad’s parents are scattered (so I can stand by a tree – apparently talking to myself – and blubber…probably) and then, to have a hand pulled pint of beer in the Old Red Lion pub back in my home village of Grenoside….and invite all the kids, who I started school with 55 years ago, to have a pint with me and reminisce. The next day suitably hung over, I’d hop on a train and go under the channel tunnel to Paris, attend a reading at Shakespeare & Company book shop on the banks of the Seine…and buy a book (preferably a signed first edition by a favourite author). The next day I’d spend outside a typical Parisian café, under trees, in dappled sunshine (not likely in November but hey it’s my birthday, my fantasy), drinking good coffee, or sipping a full bodied French wine and reading my book. Then later perhaps, go on a literary walk around Paris guided by, Australian born writer and Francophile, John Baxter. The cat would sadly have to stay at home, but my wife is most welcome to come….