The Things You’ll Pass As You Drive Towards Death

22 Sep

Whenever we’re traveling, it’s a good idea to have a few landmarks on our maps to know that we are heading in the right direction. People point out the cemetery on the right to let us know that in two miles we need to turn left to reach our destination.

In our lifespan, those landmarks are milestone birthdays. They’re not quite as reliable as that cemetery (we all know what happens when people move cemeteries), because each of us arrives at them in different ways. However, when it comes to special birthday celebrations, our own experience is irrelevant. I’m not here to tell you where you should be by the time you’re 16 or 40 or 75; ultimately, if you want to follow or break from a tradition, it’s nowt to do with me. What I can do, though, is let you know what others’ expectations will be to help buffer the shock just a tad.

YOUR FIRST BIRTHDAY

The first milestone is obviously one’s first birthday. It’s clearly all about other people, since one-year-olds are legitimately too stupid to know anything about life whatsoever. Luckily, other people’s expectations for this one are pretty low: as long as they get to take a picture of you with cake on your face, they’ll be happy.

YOUR TENTH BIRTHDAY

Moving into double digits means that others will start expecting a little more. You might be expected to do chores; you may start dealing with money. You will also be asked to “perform” for people at family gatherings, and unlike when you were 6, it’ll no longer be cute when you sing off tune or forget the words of the Gettysburg Address (I’m afraid I had to learn this the hard way). How you deal with this pressure will be up to you, but the main thing you should be prepared for is that, while it will feel like the worst thing in the world to you, no one will really give a shit.

YOUR ADOLESCENCE

Adolescence is a complicated time because of the physical and emotional changes you will be going through. To add further complications, there are a number of different milestones during these years. For example, in the Jewish tradition, one’s thirteenth birthday is important—this is when you become responsible for your actions. That’s pretty heavy stuff for someone who is technically still developmentally an idiot.

For girls of any religious persuasion, the first menstrual period will be a momentous time for now you are technically eligible for the position of motherhood. What the hell’s that all about, nature? Depending on your family’s background, this will be greeted with either with pride or shame. Try not to let it affect you too much—luckily the hassle, pain and need for notes excusing you from PE classes should keep you pretty much distracted.

A driver’s license also signals a major turning point. This will heap more responsibility onto your shoulders. Undoubtedly you will think this unfair, because that’s just the kind of thing teenagers do. But remember, you can now get behind the wheel of a potentially lethal weapon, so there’s got to be some kind of balance between your needs and others’.

YOUR EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY

In many countries, your eighteenth birthday means you can officially do grown-up things like run for election, drink, marry, join the military and be a consenting adult. Keep in mind that you just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

YOUR TWENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY

This is often the first time that you will start looking back on your life, realizing that some of it has already gone. Others will note this as well; essentially what people are really doing is reminding you that you’re on the path towards death.  This is a drag, especially if they do it as you’re blowing out your candles, but it is, of course, true.

This can also be a difficult time for men especially as it marks the end of what’s commonly referred to as your “sexual peak.” Don’t let this talk worry you; you have plenty years of masturbatory pleasure left.

YOUR THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY

This is often an important one because you are likely to remember your parents in their thirties. This is a recipe for comparison: how come your mother was married with kids on her thirtieth and you’re still single and letting your ex’s new girlfriend raise your twins? How come your father had worked his way up to a managerial position by his thirtieth and you’re still waiting for your band to hit the big time? You may be doing these comparisons in your head, but, trust me, others definitely will be and may start treating you like you’re a failure. (They’ve probably been feeling this for years, but it may be the first time they act on it.)

For women, your thirties will also mark a milestone in terms of your bodies: they will start changing but more importantly, you’ll start hearing (or at least hearing others talking about) your “biological clock.” The truth is, if you are planning to throw your life away on motherhood, now is a good time to it. But don’t let your parents, your friends or your spinster aunt’s regrets pressure you into doing something you’re not ready to do.

YOUR FORTIETH BIRTHDAY

This is seen by many as the Big One. Because unless you’ve already passed it, forty is seen as past it (particularly for the female of the species). You don’t have to embrace this interpretation, but be aware that many others do. This includes the twenty-year-olds you work with (their flirting is actually mockery) and your doctor (who will now expect you to regularly schedule tests so he can tell you which parts of your body are starting to fail).

YOUR FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY

People will note that you are a half a century old; given that only freaks live a hundred years, I think we all know what they’re really pointing out: most of your life is gone. Not even crumblies think of a 50-year-old when they think of a young person, so be prepared that even if you feel young, using the word to describe yourself will cause others will see you as delusional and/or embarrassing. Even the phrase “young at heart” is a bit troublesome at this point as you think about your echocardiogram results and your dodgy arteries. I’m definitely not saying you are old, but you are older than a whole generation of other adults. They are well aware of this.

YOUR SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY

You might get a bus pass or discounts on your early bird dinner special, but the truth is this milestone isn’t as important as it once was. Starting off your sixth decade used to signal your eventual retirement from employment, but nowadays you’ll end up working until the day you drop dead, so thank god for that, eh?

YOUR SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY

You are old now. Everyone thinks that and will expect you to act old. They will assume you don’t remember yesterday, comprehend technology, or experience sexual desire. Even if their assumptions are wrong, you may want to consider working their mistakes to your benefit. Being in your seventies allows you to lie like a rug and people’s reactions will usually just be, “Ahhhh, bless.”

YOUR ONE-HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY

What others expect from you on this milestone is absolutely irrelevant.

Obviously, your body as it ages will present you with opportunities and limitations, but ultimately age is just a number and like most things related to numbers, obsessing about it is boring. Others will respond to you in different ways as you evolve, but it’s important to be true to yourself. It’s your journey, regardless of the route you take. But if you are headed through my neighbourhood on your way, can you stop and pick up a pint of milk for me?

Sour Times

11 Sep

I Just Prefer My Doctors Older

23 Aug

This afternoon, I was outrageously accused of being unfair to young people. And I have no intention of forgiving the childish little shit who said it.

Yes, I had just finished writing up a complaint to the council about the lads across the road, but this had nothing to do with bias — I was only speaking on behalf of the entire street. And when I came home from the surgery yesterday, my comment about the new consultant’s youthful choice of shoes was purely innocent. And why would someone appear on television in droopy trousers if he didn’t want his pert, tender bottom to be remarked upon? I’m allowed my opinions, aren’t I?

Despite Christopher’s attempt to back me into a corner (an experience I have enjoyed much more in the past), you’ll not see me making any grand comments on a large group of people. That would be discriminatory, and if there’s one thing I hate more than Australians, it’s discrimination.

Capaldi

 

But I will say this: if you are a member of the large group of people who claimed the new Doctor’s dialogue needs subtitles, you, my friend, are a racist.

Memo to All Idiots: Stop Being Idiots

10 Aug

This morning a friend sent me an email letter to which was attached a ‘hilarious’ photograph of something she saw on her travels across the US (I won’t say which state it was in, but if you assumed it was a Midwestern one, you would not be wrong). It was of a bumper sticker that read:

If I pass you on the right, your in the wrong.

The car displaying this sticker was unsurprisingly red and had hubcaps on its wheels which spun even when the vehicle was stationary.

Unlike in England where two-way roads are so narrow bicyclists barely have the space to travel down them, most roads in America are multi-laned in each direction. Americans drive on the right side of the road (and before any Britons assume that I mean right as in correct, rest assured I mean right as in not left: you will not find me in any motoring-based morality arguments like that). The general rule is that those driving the speed limit should drive in the right lane, and that the left lane be used only by those who are speeding (which happily makes it quite easy for coppers to spot lawbreakers).  The left lane therefore is also known (by twats) as the ‘fast lane’.

Clearly the driver in the red Ford displaying said bumper sticker feels strongly about this guideline. He is clearly so outraged by those in the left lane travelling at the speed limit that not only does he feel the need to overtake them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them that they are in fact wrong’. I can only deduce from his placing of a non-removable decal on his vehicle (not even on the bumper, mind, but across the rear window) that the ‘fast lane’ issue is a passion of his, something he feels in the very pit of his soul.

Perhaps I should admire his commitment. However, I do not. Because he is clearly an idiot, and idiots do not deserve admiration for anything they do.  There is one simple clue to his idiocy—though I’ve no doubt there’s plenty more evidence available—and I trust that you all spotted it instantly within my unbiased description above.

It’s the word your.

Not driving fast in the ‘fast lane’ may be frustrating and naive, but if you need a clear cut example of something that is across-the-board, out-and-out wrong, you need look no Stop Sonfurther than the word your.

Your means ‘belonging to you’. I assume the driver meant you’re, meaning ‘you are’. While I acknowledge the two words sound the same, they are in fact two completely different words. The bumper sticker might as well as read ‘tomato in the wrong’. Tomato does not mean you’re and your does not mean you’re.

God gave us the English language to use to communicate with one another. It’s a great language. It’s got words like crumbly and delicate and trumpery, fantastic words that incorporate a range of sounds and many shades of meaning. But the language only works when used correctly. Using words incorrectly destroys marriages (my darling, our love is so holey) or results in incarceration (I have the head of that old dear hanging over my fireplace).  Using words incorrectly is wrong.

If I ran the world (which as of yet, I do not), people driving slowly in the left lane wouldn’t give me much pause. But people who say your when they mean you’re would immediately be banished to Idiot Island (formerly Molokai) where they would be exiled until they learned to speak correctly. If that took their entire lifetimes, then so be it.

Your Body When Dancing

27 Jul

Earlier this month, I wrote about the body and why it’s okay to like yours even if it doesn’t fit the unrealistic ideal perpetuated by the media and my mother. However, now that I’m thinking more clearly and my finger is fit and flexible once again, I feel compelled to attach an addendum to my previous treatise.

It’s about dancing.

KeychainHave you ever heard the phrase ‘Dance like no one’s watching’? It sounds wise, doesn’t it? But as with many life philosophies written on key chains and fridge magnets, it needs a little unpacking.

It implies that most of the time we’re dancing, we restrict ourselves if there are others around because we fear being judged by someone else. It is only when we are alone — when ‘no one’s watching’ — that we (the key chain implies) ‘let go’ and respond naturally to the music.

Here’s the irony: when you dance as if someone were watching — and I’m the one who’s watching — I am going to be judging you hard.

Because there’s no better guarantee that you’ll look a twit than if you try to control your body while dancing. Dancing should occur without restriction because it is a natural function of the body: like sneezing, breathing, or orgasm, it is simply an instinctual reaction to external stimuli. If you try to control your sneeze, you can actually blow up your brain (or something, I don’t remember exactly, I didn’t do the research myself). If you try to control your dancing, the result can be equally devastating (at least to me, if I happen to be there when you do it).

What I’m saying is this: don’t think about who’s watching. Just dance. Sometimes you might look silly, but that’s fine — you look ridiculous when yCharlie-Brown-Christmas-Peanuts-danceou sneeze but you don’t stop yourself from doing that. Have you ever seen your orgasm face? I confess I didn’t watch the entire video your ex posted online, but from what I saw, I’m confident it wasn’t pretty. Yet, that video received over a thousand likes before your lawyer had it taken down. Why? Because you were just being natural, you were just letting yourself go and enjoying the moment.

That’s what you should do when you hear music you want to dance to: let yourself go and enjoy. When I see people who refuse to do this — who dance as if they know people are watching them — yes, I will mock them. I don’t even care if it is during the father/daughter dance. I mean it was her third wedding anyway, and why have an open bar if they didn’t want people to take advantage of it?

I Have A New Boyfriend

16 Jul

I jest, of course, but isn’t this review simply lovely?

Agatha ReviewTo pick up your copy, please click on the link to the right. If you write a review as charming as this one, I will definitely put you in my list of my most favourite people.

On the Body

9 Jul

During the three and a half hours I spent in A&E last night, I had plenty of time to consider the human body (including the body of an elderly gentleman who wore his hospital gown both untied and the wrong way round). It wasn’t how I had intended to spend my evening, but I suppose it had some value as it kept from me smacking the face of the bubblegum-chewing child who sat next to me for the majority of my stay.

9A6_cuerpoFrom a medical perspective, bodies pretty much serve one basic purpose: they are bags of skins in which we carry our bones, muscles and guts. Some bodies are big, some are small. Some have hair all over them, others don’t. Women’s bodies have lovely, soft curves, and men’s bodies have dangly bits which apparently, I have recently learned, go teeny tiny as they age. Whatever — it doesn’t really matter what the body looks like: its job is simply to keep our insides inside.

(Note: I do not mean to imply that the processes that go on within the body aren’t complicated. Indeed they are. However, as I am not a scientist, how all that stuff works really isn’t any of my business.)

So on a very practical level, as long as our bones, muscles, and guts stay out of sight, our bodies shouldn’t be a worry. However, if the magazines I skimmed through last evening are anything to go by (and I think they are, despite their having been published in 1982), we are bloody obsessed with the human body. And the main obsession appears to be changing the way ours looks.

Now I’m not saying I don’t understand the desire to look good. A cursory glance over my person proves that an appealing appearance is of importance to me. I like to keep fit, my hair is nicely styled, and there’s no reason cleavage like mine shouldn’t be out on show. However, when a desire to improve our looks involves going against nature and/or doing our health harm, well, there’s a problem there.

Not all bodies have trim waistlines, puffed out lips or wrinkle-free skin. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a fact of life. We don’t need to invest so much time, worry and money trying to make our bodies all look the same. Instead, we need to just be comfortable with ourselves. I know for many that’s easier said than done, but trust me, it’s a sound strategy, because self-hate is never a good look for anyone.

Today, I’ve been taking it a bit easy after the trauma of last night. Please don’t worry yourselves over my health, though — in the end, I only needed a few quick stitches on my ring finger and then I was right as rain. That’s the last time I use someone else’s knife when playing Five Finger Fillet. You live and learn, I guess.

Hooray for Freedom!

4 Jul

Let’s celebrate the Founding Fathers’ commitment to ensuring the freedom of speech and religion of all corporations!

A Lovely Pre-Match Story

14 Jun

Once upon a time in a green and pleasant land, men, women and children woke with a great sense of anticipation. A little boy in Exeter refused to eat his breakfast until his father joined him in singing a variety of football chants across the kitchen table. A mother in Dewsbury quickly started her ironing, did the washing up, hoovered the front room, and nipped out to the shops to buy her lottery tickets so she’d have all her work done in plenty of time. Thousands of hungover lasses in Newcastle woke up in strangers’ beds with a desire to get home as soon as possible.

The sense of excitement grew throughout the day. A bin man in Croydon braved the PC Brigade, pinned a flag of St George to the back of his fluorescent tabard and walked into a local pub. As a group of Scousers pushed her and her shopping cart over, a granny gave a cry that sounded like “England til I die” (though it might have actually been, “Help! Police!”). A benefit cheat in Derby spent two hours making sure his telly was precisely angled to allow for maximum viewing pleasure. An intelligent and sexy woman in my very own village asked her houseboy Christopher to hurry through her usual pedicure.

A flock of doves flew over a playing field in Basingstoke.

Today was the day. An entire bunting-covered nation put their mobiles on vibrate, opened their tabs at the bar and waited for the moment of truth.

A Rose By Any Other Name

1 Jun

What’s in a name? you may very well ask. In fact, I will pause and wait while you do.

. . .

Now that you’ve asked, apparently “scientists” claim there’s quite a bit in a name. According to some clever clogs in Pennsylvania, boys with common names are less likely to commit crimes than those with less common names. (First let me clarify that as we’re talking about America, common means “more frequently found.” Therefore, a common American name is John Smith, a less common American name is Chucklenuts McGee. In England, I appreciate, common denotes something which would imply a distinction between the names, say, Wayne Rooney and Perciville Wilberforce DeMontford.)

So “science” tells us names can lead one to criminality. What I found quite interesting about this particular research is the selection of bad, uncommon names, particularly Ernest and Ivan. For, in my vast experience of male-female relationships, I have known (biblically) both an Ernest and an Ivan. And, I can assure you, they were far from bad. They were good, quite good, if you can catch the meaning of my drift.

Ernest was a boy from Louisiana whom I met one day in New York City as I was meandering through Central Park Zoo. We were both watching the mini Nubian goat kid being tended to so lovingly by its mother.  Although the zoo was bustling with children (as it so often unfortunately is), it felt like he and I were alone in this scene of nature’s beauty. I turned my delicate face towards his and noticed a single tear making its thoughtful way down the contours of his rugged but not unlickable face. His eyes met mine and, for a moment, we stood in silence, before quickly making our way to the nearest hotel. After, he said his name was Ernest and I felt that there could not have been a more perfect moniker for such a sincere and thoughtful lover. During the week that we spent in each other’s company, I was able to discern, with the help of a UN translator, that he had moved north from the bayou to learn how the big city folk lived and ended up the head of a charity devoted to protecting city pigeons from verbal abuse. My Ernest was not a criminal: he was a generous and compassionate do-gooder, who definitely could do it good.

I didn’t meet my Ivan until much later when I was touring the rugged landscapes of Montana. My expedition was hoping to reach Sacagewea Peak but got stranded without enough provisions. Ivan, as I’m sure you can imagine, was originally from Russia and had come to Bridger Range to do some skiing. He intercepted our calls for help and immediately rushed to our aid. After my group came back down the mountain, I felt I wanted to thank him personally before leaving town. He was staying in a little place near Devil’s Backbone and was delighted to entertain for me for the weekend. A lady, of course, does not like to kiss and tell, but, suffice it to say, the only crimes Ivan committed were against nature but they were so, so forgivable.

This quick, wet trip down memory lane has provided ample evidence to prove that said “scientific” theory about names is tommyrot (unless, I suppose, your name is actually Tommy Rot). In my own life, I have had some run-ins with a few Victorias, but they are definitely the exception which validates the rule that one’s name is of very little consequence as to whether one is likely to be unlawful or legit. No child should be condemned at birth simply because of thebaby-criminal name his parents chose for him. What one makes of oneself is what matters. After all what woman hasn’t met her fair share of bad Johns? And while “scientists” David and Daniel may be sitting pretty in their ivory research laboratories, I personally can testify to knowing at least two Davids currently serving rather long prison terms. I will admit to knowing a Daniel who was completely above board, but he suffered from premature ejaculation so I think I’ve proved my point sufficiently.

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