Thursday 19 July 2012


(Apologies to David Bowie for the title).

It just occurred to me how dramatic the changes are that people go through in their mid-thirties. My guy's best friend (female) just had a child. And from here on, I self-censor. But I'm going to use some of that in a book at some point. It's definitely interested to see the culture clash of the childless with the culture clash of the first-time parents.

Then, we're off to Coventry/Birmingham tomorrow to go to a wedding - my guy's cousin marries, which leaves him in something like shell-shock ("I remember her a knobbly-kneed kid!"). Yes, we're getting old (we're both 37) - DINKS (Double-Income-No-Kids) and unmarried/partnered. The main thing that ties us together is he 28-year term of our mortgage, and we both have the spending habits of young adults with paycheques. The good thing about being a "functional adult" - you can actually afford to buy all those books/computer games and nobody tries to stop you, in fact, the Western Economic Model depends on you consuming, consuming, and working hard so you can afford what you consume. (Though I hold it buying books is actually the best way to be a ravenous consumer - at least some other authors might make a living...)

Then, over the last 2 weeks, I've been contacted again by very old friends. One was a childhood friend (I'm speaking of forms 1-6, after which I moved and we lost contact). I still remember her mother very well. I remember the house they lived in and that they had a CD player in the mid-eighties, when CDs cost like a hundred bucks each. The shelves were full of them. I realized that these people were financially rather more comfortable than I was with my mother, who lived in subsidised housing. I remember wire trees made with precious stones, and a life-sized bunch of grapes made from amethyst. I would pick it up very carefully and marvel at the weight and heavyness of it, how cold and perfect, and how weird and wonderful that people made those things and bought them. I remember the light carpet that I could only step on after my shoes were off. Maybe I felt a bit like the grungy, semi-neglected kid that I was, though I didn't feel like it. They were also the only (first) people I know who had a bidet. And the bathroom was stocked with really expensive toiletries (I believe her mother was a cosmetics tester). It's there that I had my first sniff of "Poison", the perfume, which I found unpleasant.

Well, I learnt the mother died last year. The generation of our parents is on the way out - especially if they were heavy smokers - and her mother was. Though I wish her mother had seen what cancer did to her friend, my mother, and stopped smoking - to be there for longer for her daughter and maybe get to meet her grandkids, which didn't happen. (It's minor tragedies like these that really resonate.)

Then I got an email yesterday from a friend I made in my late teens/early twenties. She's now a doctor, on the career path to become an uber-doctor (running stuff, like a clinic or something). She's actually younger than I am. Her father, a very heavy smoker, also died last year. I begin to think there's a pattern. I remember being small and powerless and the world of adults was a complete mystery. Well, that hasn't changed, though to my innocence I've added a ridiculous amount of education, more than anybody really needs, and a big bucket of cynicism (definitely more than anybody needs), but the inner working of everything are still mysterious to me - I can't imagine that people would do such things, and it's a sense I keep getting when I read the news. My soul must be from Alpha Centauri - all this stuff here sometimes feels so weird. 

In any case, I get a weird sense of destiny, of passing time, maybe even of mortality. I hear a rush of wings, I see the big pattern, from our grandparents fading away to now our parents (well, mine are long gone, but my mother died too young and my father was much older). The next generation on the line is us. Rather like better-aimed artillery shells, they are moving, and they are moving in our direction. I'm not afraid of mortality, thought it's one of those things that don't seem to make sense. You spend so much time "becoming" who you are, and then you fade. 

But first I have a few books to write.


  1. I know this feeling. Kinda like being cast adrift. My friends are all having kids or have kids, and because me and the bitter half can't/won't... I feel like my life's shifted gears. Watching my parents grow old and frail has been the most difficult. But I stopped smoking this year.