Saturday, 5 July 2008

I'm not being funny, but....

Not long now before the start of another new football season. You’re burning your fingers on the very fag end of youth and by the time that first game kicks off you’ll be looking back over your shoulder at the period of life known as your twenties. When you hit the big three-zero, getting pissed out of your mind on a school night ceases to be the actions of a young man living life in the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and instead becomes the lonely descent into alcoholism by a sad bastard. Or so you’ve been told, but does that bother you? No it does not.

Everything in life has turned out just fine. Had you been asked five years ago where you’d wanted to be in the summer of 2008, it’s fair to say that you may not have said working in the high flying world of specialist recruitment. Where people who don’t meet their targets are shuffled out the door to rot, but that’s life - always full of surprises. Okay, it’s the kind of profession that a few years ago you would have said was reserved for only the most depraved scum sucking capitalist whores. But hey ho. Morals and ideals aren’t going to pay the rent are they, Mother Teresa?

Of course you still have your friends, although you haven‘t seen much of them lately. What you have to realise is that they have their own lives. Their garden fences aren’t going to creosote themselves. You could tell for yourself that they've done a fine job on the garden, when you peered over the brick wall through the trellis panels, seeing them laughing and joking with tall drinks in their hands. Without you. I'm sure they'll call you soon. Of course you’re too polite to flag this up, you’ve matured, (you have grey hair). You’ve moved on financially as well, (instead of the one crippling credit card debt, now there’s three). Not to mention you’re free and single, (lost and alone in a pit of self loathing, hoping a painless death will save you from old age spent eating a diet of cut price baked beans in a badly heated bed-sit).

Not that you've been short of things to do during the close season. Thank goodness for the television. There was enough excitement in Turkey’s Euro 2008 games alone to at least delay the desperate feeling that eats away at you. Telling you that your entire life hasn't amounted to anything. Yep, you really can’t wait for the coming football season, because the number of seasons you have left are getting fewer in number, which can't be said of the amount of tears you cry into your pillow during those long nights.

8 comments:

justadevilwoman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
justadevilwoman said...

Cuz,
I am a little concerned at the level of underlying fear you're demonstrating as you approach
'30' (actually the 'new' 20)
I could try to reassure you by telling you that life in your thirties affords certain luxuries of the soul.. perception sharpens and ones character rounds off and ripens but, a little like trying to tell a four year old that poking wet fingers into a plug hole might hurt, you can only find that out for yourself.
As I too face a new decade, (40, aka, the new 30) I look back on my Thirtieth birthday with great fondness, the memories, though not strictly my own, due to slight haziness on the night are of a gratifyingly debauch evening the difference being it was far more sophisticated than birthdays of my twenties, in short, we were later chundering on champagne rather than diamond white & You will recall, that I too was then young-ish, free-ish and sort of single at thirty, no commitments and completely footloose (though only a podiatrist can explain why that should be such a boon)!
All your trepidation at entering a new phase of your life, is not without it's merits, but remember life changes are as likely to happen at 32 and a half or indeed 29 and three quarters as they are at 30 or 40 and the most important thing to let yourself ponder is....at 42, Keith still plays friggin' football, gets pant-peeingly paraletic, and has never creosoted a fence in his life!!
In short, Cuz, life's changes will catch you up... when? Well that just depends on how fast you want to keep on running!
Lex x

Anonymous said...

Samaritans 08457 90 90 90, discreet and non-judgemental.

Retard said...

When you say you, do you mean 'you?' I think you do, don't you? Not long 'til pre-season, mate.

fields said...

you've convinced me. i definitely don't want to see thirty...

i want to join the james dean's, river pheonix's and marc bolan's of the world. yeah, that's it. i want to be like them.

Lukey said...

You're well over the hill for all that Fielder!!

Arshavin's barber said...

Heading toward Thirty is a sobering time. It’s a well-worn cliché; it’s the new forty, but I have never paid much attention to any of this, imagining myself somehow exempt. Until now, that is. Having just turned 30, this event seems to have opened the sluice gates for a torrent of pitiful self-analysis. I am slowly coming to the awful conclusion that, my God, I AM an adult. And this is the problem, am I the only 30 year old who, despite a job and a brain, has singularly failed to accumulate any of the recognised trappings of adulthood over the course of the last decade?
I have begun to look around and am increasingly drawn to the stark conclusion that yes, I am.
It is an unwritten rule that there are in today's society, certain things that a MAN (and I still expect the spellcheck to pick that up) should have by the time he reaches The Big Three-O.

Money. Ah yes, the timeless classic. When you hit thirty, it is a rule, a cast iron rule, that you will have savings. You will NOT spend the last weekend of the month with beans on toast, an empty petrol tank, roll up butts and a half drunk bottle of Hungarian Red. You will have a special account with enough money for emergencies, and the key meter running out will not constitute an emergency. You will not mark the days till next wages in biro on your desk calendar as you stifle hunger pangs and sniff surreptitiously at your armpits due to the deodorant running out in week three. You will have gold cards and a healthy credit rating, CCJ is the initial of a mate not a letter heading, and you will not have had to change address to avoid the bailiffs still hunting you from 5 years ago. You will, in short, not be on the run from the Student Loans Company.
I have never had any money, and I am beginning to suspect that this will remain the case. I have realised that bagging up coppers on the 25th of the month is a sign that something is fundamentally wrong with both my bank account and myself. Last week, in a final act of indignity, I had to borrow a friend's SIM card just to maintain contact with outside world. The glossy pages of GQ and Vanity Fair never led me to expect this lifestyle. Dousing myself in Egoiste on a Saturday night has so far failed to turn the objects of my booze fuelled affection into Christy Turlington.

A Nice Car. I'm not talking about the well-worn Vauxhall that I actually saw as a step up the automotive ladder not six months ago, a form of transport proving costlier than running a Learjet as its built in obsolescence becomes hideously apparent. No, I'm talking about a 'nice' car.
It will have alloy wheels as standard; its doors will shut with the reassuring clunk that only large wedges of cash can supply. It will start without that being a surprise and will not feature stickers for sneaker/skate manufacturers. Its subtle metallic paintjob will blend in nicely with the slightly more expensive Beemers and Audis of the real adults. It will not cause business contacts to assume that you're being deliberately retro.
A year ago I would have labelled drivers of such cars 'w*nker'. Now, with the gaping abyss of my thirties before me, I gaze at the gleaming rows of Nice Cars in my office car park with a new emotion...bitter, bitter jealously.

A Home. Now, unlike the car, this needn't be nice, but it must be YOURS. I am not referring to the rented bedsit style accommodation that passes for my own vision (or is that delusion) of cool urban bachelor living (of which more later). It can be in a state of disrepair, it can be tatty but it will be yours. You will have parted with upwards of £150k and this will mean you can now discuss with other Three-Os the merits of MFI, Homebase, Habitat and renting floor sanders. More than any other acquisition, Home ownership greatly increases the Adulthood factor. You will now be burdened with a crippling mortgage for the rest of your working life, and this is a GOOD thing. The commitment of a mortgage bestows a certain gravitas, a sense of responsibility that mere renters like myself can only dream of (or wake up in the dead of night soaked in sweat and screaming).
I got a surge of adult pride when I bought a set of matching cushions from the local B-Wise.
Whilst my own level of commitment peaked with the signing of a six-month contract, actual home ownership will enable you to moan about, and even understand; inflation, variable rates of interest and other grown up things that make me feel physically unwell. You will now be able to spend every available penny/minute on home improvements and like the painting of the Humber Bridge; this process will never, ever end.

A Partner. Whereas I have a wild mouse living in my flat, I know that I should have partner, and I am not talking about the occasional poor soul that I manage to tempt back for a night of what could be termed sexual assault in some countries. A Partner shares your new Home and sometimes gets to drive the Nice Car if it's her turn to drive after a night at the Pizza Express. Now I am on slightly firmer ground here, this is something I have actually tried, though the description 'Partner' was always a bridge too far. Ah, you notice the past tense.
In the heady days of my early twenties I viewed my repeated failure to form meaningful relationships as a badge of honour, fancying myself a footloose, maverick swordsman cutting a swathe through the female populace of my hometown. There was indeed a brief period when friends genuinely envied my single status. Now as they fall to the Big Three-O like GIs at Omaha I have witnessed the envy turn first to pity, then outright hostility.
You see, when you're 25, not being able to hold down a girlfriend makes you an enigmatic lone-wolf but as you knock on the wrought iron gates of Thirtyhood, that lone wolf has become an embittered, immature loser who's almost certainly shit in bed. Those schoolgirls you pass on the way to work? When your gaze meets, it's not wanton lust in their eyes...its fear.

Plans for Kids. I can't bring myself to even discuss this.

I realise that I may appear a little bitter, you may well be sitting in your faux Corbusier chair on bare beech flooring taking a break from stripping wallpaper for the new nursery, shaking your head in the same way most of my peers have begun to do recently. As I descend into my thirties I don't know where it all went so wrong either. I’m not thick or monstrously ugly and yet even my most juvenile friends seem to have become adults without telling me.
Recent Saturday nights have become a depressing routine. I sit alone nursing a bottle of wine, Pay As U Go in my trembling hand, punching in the numbers of everyone I have even known, witnessing a succession of 'Sorry mate, We're having a quiet one', 'Me and Tabitha/Fleur/Fiona are going out/staying in for a bite to eat', 'Please leave your message after the tone', 'Your JustTalk time has expired, please top up...'

There is, as always, a flipside to this predicament. Just as certain things are required when adult, there is an equally lengthy list of activities and must be relinquished. Put simply, there are things you must NOT do, under any circumstances, when you approach the thirty. Sadly for me, my reluctance to let them slip from my childlike grasp is the source of much of my present anguish.

Skateboarding. The godlike dude you once were, casually pulling off Railslides and Ollies as you glided down the high street now looks dangerously like a middle aged man on a skateboard, which is precisely what you are. Only Tony Hawk can get away with this now.

BMX. As with the skateboard, if you can 180 Tailwhip a traffic cone it does not mean you are an extreme sports idol, it means your bike is too fecking small.

Binge drinking. Accept the fact that you have become the whirling alkie you laughed at in the pub when you were 18.

Shagging teenagers: This no longer makes you an enviable stud, it makes you the kind of man the News of the World would prefix with the words 'monster', 'predator'...or 'nonce'.
Wearing trainers. Go out with your mates on a Saturday night, look down. You are the only one who can't get in to the gastropub, and no, the bouncer doesn't care that they're genuine '76 Vans.

Having a hairstyle: 'Just a trim please barber, and yes, my weekend break in Cumbria with Susan was lovely'

Smoking. As you cup a snout to your lips, letting the cool smoke drift lazily into the light of the pool table, you do not look like James Dean, or even Mickey Rourke. You look like a balding salesman with a paunch and the beginnings of emphysema.... which is frankly no coincidence.

T Shits with logos. These will now be traded for comedy ties, Hackett rugby shirts or something called ‘Smart Casual.’

Now before you Audi drivers sneer at these childish pastimes, consider this. You will never, ever, be able to skateboard again, unless you have borrowed it off your son, are drunk, and are being encouraged by your besuited work colleagues whilst being videoed/scolded by your Partner. Oh... it IS just me.

Any of the above activities will henceforth be regarded with the assumption that you’re trying to be funny. It is this that I can’t take. I may not WANT to BMX up the city streets popping wheelies, wearing Etnies and a bleached 'do but feck it, I should be allowed to, free from ridicule and tutting disapproval, without having to move to Shoreditch or work in the media.

If there's one thing that encapsulates the full mindbending horror of Thirtyhood, it's the Dinner Party. These desperate gatherings are a nightmare vision of what life has in store, a hideous rite of passage into a world of Sunday carwashes and caring about the cricket score. Next time you attend one of these events (and believe me, you won't have to wait long), observe the following. The women will gravitate towards the cooking area, where compliments will be exchanged on the recent Moben overhaul or Le Crueset ovensafe crockery. If you are, God forbid, single, you won't have been invited. If you're not, watch, jaw agape, as your girlfriend transforms before your eyes from the hot chick you used to bang on the living room floor of your student bedsit, into a nattering housewife that refers to you as her 'other half'.
Then look at yourself. Smart casuals, deck shoes, a bottle of Hoegaarden, your mouth forming the words 'So Dave, what's the new Focus like on the motorway?' or 'Can you believe it Barry? The bloody suppliers only had X1523 in stock!'
I suggest the following course of action. Excuse yourself from the table, go to the shed (there'll be one), select the new Flymo TurboGrassmaster 8 (there'll be one), plug in, turn on, insert head into whirling blades...

Everyone else seems to embrace their newfound adulthood with a smugly resigned attitude, much the same as a pregnant woman. They somehow see the robbery of their youth as some kind of validation, a stamp of approval. As their dual incomes roll in they are sensibly converted into bricks and mortar, white goods, second cars, a child, a dog. Mine is rarely turned into anything that can't be ingested or ignited. The serious questions are beginning to keep me up at night. Is it wrong that the most important thoughts in my mind tend to be 'is a pack of ten Marlboro enough for the night?' or 'I have ten quid till payday, should I buy fags and food or fags and booze?'

Proof of my solitary status as childman is omnipresent. Yesterday I went surfing with some old mates, confident that, not a steady job between them, they would provide some escape from this creeping dread. Hell, I may even be able to claim some kind of high ground as the only one with a career and a different address from my parents. After a balmy session out on the glittering waves one of them, single, jobless, 29, turned to me from the seat of his filthy VW camper and advised gravely,
'You really should think of setting up a pension'.

Reynold said...

Have you, though? Thought about a pension I mean. By putting 20% of your gross income into a trust fund you could really feel the benefits.

Looking back (bringing back the blog)

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