Two-thousand-and-fifteen. How the hell did that happen? It seems like only yesterday since [insert random nostalgia here]. Tempus is fugitting with increasingly reckless abandon. In what way can it conceivably be two-thousand-and-fifteen? Twenty-fifteen, as the cool kids no doubt call it. I clearly remember two or three New Years since the millennium—well, dimly recollect them—but fifteen…?
Jee-zuss! I'm going to be fifty this year, all being well. Fifty. Five zero. Two score years and ten out of the allotted however many. Three score and ten, isn't it? I could look it up, I suppose, but life's too short. That's my point. Fifty! Holy crap!
I remember pulling Mum's leg as she was approaching fifty. It must have been in the summer before her Big Five-O. We were sitting by the dunes on Lligwy beach and… No, that can't be right. Do the maths. It must have been Mum's fortieth birthday that was looming, not her fiftieth. Yes, that's right, I teased her about life beginning at forty. I must have heard the expression somewhere, and thought I was being funny. Oh good grief, I'm ten years older than Mum was back whenever it was that I teased her about her age on Lligwy beach. Hang on, I can work it out: 1937 + 39 years = 1976. The long, hot summer of '76. That's right, that must have have been it. Getting on for four decades ago.
Decades. When did I start thinking in decades?
By the time he was fifty—the age I'll be in a little over three months—not only had Charles Darwin circumnavigated the globe, discovered the fossils of previously unknown extinct megafauna, worked out how coral reefs form, written several books (including a best-selling travelogue that's still in print), and had a sodding mountain named after him, but he had also, incidentally, worked out the answer to the meaning of life, and was, after twenty years' fact-checking, finally about to go into print with On the Origin of Species. Whereas I…
Or take John Lennon. By the time he was my age, John Lennon had been dead for almost ten years. Or Elvis: dead for over seven. Died on the loo by some accounts, poor bastard. The King on his throne. One hell of a way to leave the building. Or take Mozart. Actually, no, let's not take Mozart—I don't know anything about him—but I'd hazard a small bet he never came close to threatening the wrong side of fifty either.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to set myself up alongside the likes of Darwin, Lennon, Elvis, Mozart, or anyone else who only needs one name. My point is, if I'm ever going to leave any sort of mark of my own, I'm cutting things a bit fine.
Bill said it best. In fridge magnets, of all things. A year ago today, he left a drunken note on our beer fridge in the coal-hole. His words are still there for all to see, covered in a thin layer of coal-dust, goading me every time I go for a Guinness:
Exactly. I pretty much finished my first book two years ago. I've been tweaking and faffing about with it on and off ever since. I need to get my stuff out there, then keep putting it out there. Publish and be damned, as they say. Come to think of it, those were the exact words on Bill's previous fridge-magnet message, written two years ago today. Two years. Jee-zuss!
Time to start a new notebook. Not a diary, not blog, but a notebook. Write about whatever takes my fancy. Write and publish. Write quickly, write more often, and get in out here, on the web, for all to see. I owe it to myself. I owe it to my currently non-existent adoring public. I owe it to Humanity.
No more procrastination. Let's go!
But first a brew, I think.
(I just Googled Mozart: dead at thirty-five. Jee-zuss!)
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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