01.08
Long sleep

I’m currently reading a book about a woman who wakes up and realises with shock that she is no longer, as she had thought, a carefree twenty-year old, but is married and in her late forties.

Funnily enough I had the same idea thirty years ago. I started a short story about a man who went to bed as a twenty-year old and woke up as a fifty-year old.

I have two observations about this.

My first observation is that I should have stuck with the short story as Ridley Scott has bought the rights of the book and is turning it into a film starring Nicole Kidman.

My second observation is that both the book and my short story present this as a nightmare scenario.

From the perspective of a twenty-year old, walking up as a fifty-year old is not good.

I have to say that from from the perspective of a fifty-year old, being fifty is actually rather good.

I don’t know what my twenty-year old self would make of my fifty-year self. It would probably be pretty much what my twenty-year old son makes of his fifty-year old father – Grumpy, bald, few facebook friends, embarrassment on skis and general object of ridicule.

So either it’s a delusion of age, or that I didn’t have the foresight thirty years ago to appreciate that I would have an iPad at this stage of my life, but being fifty is so much better than I ever imagined it would be..

I have less hair than I would like, but I’ve had twenty years to come to terms with this. I’m fatter than I should be, but consider this to be a fair price for my Starbucks gold card. I have a loving and caring wife who sorts my life out for me, a talented son who worships the ground I walk on, a brilliant daughter who always laughs at my jokes and displays a creative gene that has remained resolutely recessive in her father. Having my own company means that I get to choose who I work with and as a result every long day at work is a real pleasure. And then I have friends who are prepared to battle through crowds and security cordons to celebrate my coming of age.

I’m amazed how many of you made it here. I was certain that throwing a party in central London in the middle of the Olympics would help keep the costs down, but I clearly underestimated your determination, or desperation, for a free drink. I would particularly like to thank those of you who have travelled some distance to be here, from Bath, Boston, Canterbury, Chicago, Derby, Edinburgh, Leeds, Somerset, Southampton and Sussex.

Clearly much of the credit for the turnout must go to Rick, who knew that few of my friends would be able to resist a party that gave away free badges. With an invitation like that this was a party that needed a steel band, and I would like to thank Solid Steel for bringing a touch of the Caribbean to the occasion.

I realise half of you are here on a three-line whip from work, but at least this helps make the few friends I have got think that I am more popular than they had previously thought.

But thank you all for coming along this evening. You’ve made an old man very happy.

I’ll pass over to Andrew who I asked to propose the toast, with an appropriate eulogy.

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