Lyon

102 – Birthday

Today is a special day; it’s my birthday. Thirty-nine and counting. And as anybody my age reading this will attest to: how did I get here so fast. First it was 21. Then 25. Then 30. Then 35. Then 39 and suddenly the big one is only a mere 364 waking mornings away.

Not that I’m obsessed with it. OK I am. I’m dreading it. I don’t think I’ll fit into a forty-year old’s body. I’m too twitchy. I jump around too much. I can’t sit still. I fear that my skin might split and blister and wrinkle and sag. Fatness engulfing me like a man addicted to pork pies and cake. There’ll be no room for hair, so it’ll fall out. Or die and go grey. I’ll start wearing a wig and bright red braces to hold my oversized trousers up around my bloated gut. My glasses will mutate into bell jars and I’ll be blind. Teeth, just shards protruding from blackened gums. A shadow of myself.

I need to get a grip on things I know. But time has crept up on me like drunkenness does at a wedding. Face down in a flowerbed at four o’clock in the morning.

– Where is everybody?

– They’ve all gone, Oggers. It’s time to go home.

– What! But I’ve only just arrived…

For no reason whatsoever I made a note yesterday of all the places I’ve spent my birthday.

0 – 7: Leeds, Yorkshire

8 – 10: Wakefield, Yorkshire

11 – 18: Oswestry, Shropshire

19: Nottingham, Notts

20: Cavaillon, France

21: Bracknell, Bucks

22 – 26: Nottingham, Notts

27: Warsaw, Poland

28: Plymouth, Devon

29: Exeter, Devon

30: Bristol, Avon

31: Exeter, Devon

32: Falmouth, Cornwall

33: Bristol, Avon.

34: Zarautz, Spain

35 – 37: Bristol, Avon

38: Chesterfield, Derbys

39: Lyon/Provence, France

Yes, I know. About as interesting as watching Hammerite dry on rusted railings in the pouring rain to anybody else. But for me, it paints a picture: where the sands of time slipped to. Where they landed. Where I woke up. In whose house. In whose flowerbed.

This year I’m starting my birthday in Lyon, but it’ll finish in Provence under the sun in the Lavender fields. Later today I’m going to drive as far south as possible. Find the sun. And eventually the sea. Start enjoying my fortieth year like a man who’s just climbed out of the womb and knows he’s got his whole life in front of him.

Bring on forty. I can take it.

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