It was my birthday today. It was possibly the most underwhelming birthday of my life. Here it is by numbers…
35 My current age. I’m a mere three years away from being officially middle aged. That would be fine if I had something to show for it. But I haven’t. There’s no permanent job, no career and no eye-watering salary. There are no miniature versions of me running about the place. And I still haven’t written the book I always wanted to write. I feel like I’m falling into the neck of the hourglass!
3 The number of unsightly, protruding hairs I plucked from my left nostril this morning. I say “plucked” but what I actually did was rip them from my nose in the same way that one might vigorously de-weed a garden. I think it was David Baddiel who once said that men don’t really lose their hair as they get older; it just falls through their head and eventually sprouts out of their nose and ears.
26 The number of hairs that fell naturally out of my head in the shower shortly before I started on my nostril garden. I’m desperate to be more Des Lynam than Willie Thorn. Thankfully, I think the silver fox has the edge.
10 The number of pounds my grandma places in my birthday card annually. One year, however, she decided to substitute the crisp birthday tenner for a free scratchcard from a tabloid newspaper (already scratched, I might add). Believing she’d hit the jackpot after revealing three gold bells, she noted in my card that I had the opportunity to win a video camera. Of course, the catch was that I’d have to spend ten minutes on a premium rate phone line listening to a recorded voice slowly informing me that the prize was actually £20-worth of Argos vouchers and a day out at Chessington World of Adventures. Normal service was resumed a year later when £10 fluttered gently to the ground upon opening my card.
1979 You can find this song on the Smashing Pumpkins’ third album ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness‘. It started playing on my iPod this morning during my walk to work and made me decidedly misty eyed. It reminds me of a time when I smoked like a chimney (because I was young and invincible) and when I felt that the world was there for the taking. Unfortunately, however, the world sort of laughed at me pityingly and told me to fuck off. I duly obliged.
7 The number of birthday cards I received today. Aside from the budget card that my work colleagues hurriedly bought for me (after I bluntly reminded them that it was my birthday) every single card was from family. Without a shadow of a doubt, the award for funniest card goes to my sister (below).
The award for least amount of effort goes to my aunt. I’m 35 years old, yet every year she sends me a birthday card that makes me think the ageing process was all a dream and that, in reality, I’m actually supposed to be playing for the Under-12’s in a crucial football match at the weekend. This year, the card had a pastel drawing of a football sitting next to a trophy which were both being showered with streamers and confetti. Of course, this is the same woman that once bought my sister room spray and a vest for her birthday (my sister was 15 at the time; the vest was sized for a 10 year old). My sister’s excruciating birthday phone call to my aunt went as follows:
Sis: “Thanks for the gifts. [Laughing] Did you realise that you bought me room spray?
Sis: “Oh, well…er…thank you.”
6 The number of Facebook friends who messaged me with birthday wishes. That amounts to roughly 5.66% of my total number of ‘friends’. Still, to be fair, I’ve probably forgotten enough of their birthdays over the years. And we all know what I think of Facebook.
11/9 If I use the British date format to write my birthday it takes slightly longer for the brain to register that my special day is now forever entwined with the terrorist attack that changed the world. Whenever I’ve revealed my birthday to someone during the last eight years it’s always been met with a brief pause of recognition, followed by a searching look into my eyes to ascertain whether or not I’ve realised the significance. I imagine that people named Adolf Hitler, Myra Hindley or Satan will likely have experienced similar reactions when revealing their names. (Driving Instructor: “Adolf? Whoah, shouldn’t have opened up the Eastern Front, eh?” Adolf Hitler: “Please, can we just get on with my driving test. I’ve only taken half a day off work.”)
Few dates are burned into the world’s collective conscience like my birth date. So there’s no excuse for forgetting next year.