Saturday 3 November 2012

Half Century

I’ve been keeping a secret.

It wasn’t really that much of a secret because most people knew about it. I was just relying on the fact that they might forget.

I can now reveal the secret.

On October 8th 2012, I turned 50.

Why did I keep it a secret? The reason is that I really feel uncomfortable being the centre of attention and I really didn’t want an over the top celebration. Mrs PM was under orders not to throw a surprise party or organise anything without consulting me first.

But now, almost a month later, I can and will reveal my age, though regular readers may have guessed anyway.

As I enter my sixth decade I can look back at my life so far with some satisfaction, a little sadness, a little regret, a fair amount of embarrassment but, ultimately, a feeling of total and utter contentment.

Because 2012 was a milestone year, I took a look back through my life in January accompanied by a soundtrack of music that has been quite special, in a series of blog posts, one a day. I recently read some of that back and was quite surprised by how open I was.

Maybe twenty or even ten years ago, I would never have dreamed of doing that. The fact that I feel comfortable and satisfied with my first fifty years has led me to open up to the world a lot more. Or perhaps it’s just age; my addled brain no longer cares about how people react to me any more.

I have to say that although I tried to keep my birthday low key, I didn’t get away with it totally without embarrassment.

A good mate of mine, also called Dave, was 50 in September, and it seemed like a great idea to go away for a long weekend as a joint celebration. We did something similar when we were both 40. On that occasion, we were still clinging on to stupid youth and, together with six other lads, took a trip to Madrid where we ate, drank and generally over-indulged. I think at the end of that particular trip, I realised that I was getting old.

For our 50th birthday, Dave and I opted for Rome and, again, eight of us took the short trip across Europe to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This time, however, we took our better halves, and the eight lads out for a good time became four lads and their wives/partners, for a weekend of good food, great sight-seeing and, of course, a modicum of beer and wine.

The couples were PM and Mrs PM, Dave and Shelagh, Ian and Chris and, last but not least, Nigel and Janet.

However, because women were involved, they weren’t going to let Dave and I get away with a quiet weekend.

We flew from Manchester at around 9 am. As I sat listening to my iPod, I noticed a stewardess walking down with a bottle of champagne.

“Bloody Hell,” I thought. “What pissheads have ordered champagne at this time of morning?”

Imagine how mortified I was when the stewardess stopped at our row handed over the champagne to me and said “Happy Birthday, Mr Mancunian. Shall I get some glasses?”

Here are photos of Mrs PM, Chris and I enjoying champagne at stupid o’clock, with Dave and Shelagh also joining in.

We arrived in Rome and spent the first day strolling around and embracing the beauty of some of the wonderful sights of Rome – like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Parthenon and Piazza Navona:

In the evening, in a pizza restaurant, we were joined by two more companions: Arthur and Eric. Here is Eric with Dave:

And here is Arthur, meeting Eric across the table.

Yes, Dave and I were made to carry rubber chickens with us for the remainder of the trip. Sadly, Arthur, my rubber chicken, lost his squeak after a drunken altercation with Nigel and felt too unwell to enjoy the whole trip.

On the next day, we visited the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica:

In the evening, unbeknownst to Dave and I, the girls had booked an evening meal in a restaurant and we were both forced to wear badges:

We had to wear them for the rest of the evening.

On our penultimate day, we visited the Colosseum and Forum, with Eric, before the girls went shopping and the boys enjoyed a football match in an Irish Bar:

At the start of that day, Mrs PM and I were getting ready and but I failed to notice the image emblazoned across her top. It was only when we met the other girls that I noticed. Why? Because this was what they were wearing:

I actually got into trouble for not noticing. If you can’t see the picture, it is an image of Dave and I, presumably slightly the worst for wear, with our arm round each other enclosed in a heart, with the caption Happy 50th BirthdayYou Old Gits.

As flattering as it may seem, it was also highly embarrassing and noticed by quite a few people as we wandered around ancient monuments.

Thankfully, that was the only trauma I had to endure and no other surprises appeared.

Here's a picture of everyone in the evening of the last day:

I'm missing, of course - I was taking the photo.

And now I am 50. It sounds really weird to be honest and when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a 50 year old staring back. I see the 15 year old child, the 21 year old man, the 30 year old settling down and the 40 year old, shocked at becoming an old man.

You see, turning 40 was a big deal for me; I fretted as I stepped over the line from 39 to 40, thinking that my youth had gone and part of me had faded away. Acceptance came a year or two later and now, I am happy.

Passing the 50 barrier has caused no additional distress or suffering and I am quite happy to be where I am today.

There is something I have come to realise. Inside my head I am still a teenager.

And I love that.

I hope that feeling stays for the next 50 years because, dear reader, I plan to live forever.

Well – you can dream can’t you?


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

I have a dear friend who is something like 71 - and in his heart and mind he is 19 - he will forever be 19. I was 23 when we met (he was 28) and I will always be 23 to him. I find that a tad insulting but hey, it's his fantasy...

Plastic Mancunian said...

Thanks Grace,

I wouldn't find that insulting - but then again, I am 15 in my head.




Mind Of Mine said...

Happy belated birthday!

River said...

I sometimes feel like I'm a teenager, 17 was a great year, but most of the time I feel about 27-35ish. Unless the aches have settled in. Then I feel like a hundred and hit by a truck, but that passes. I never had a problem passing 40 or 50, but 60 has me thinking, geez! I'm old now! And then I turn the music up and dance. Sort of.

Elephant's Child said...

Happy belated birthday. And what a birthday celebration. Oooh and aaah. A rubber chicken caused a little embarrassment here this year. My partner's sister had bought one for her son's dog. She had nowhere to put it, and gave it to me to mind. Talking to my partners surgeon in hospital everytime I leaned forward it squeaked. The pompous twit didn't ask, so I didn't tell.
Do you really want to live forever? The idea fills me with horror.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

Thanks very much




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I get aches too. Mind you, I have been getting aches for years.

60's the next big one for me.

I still think I'll be immature when I reach that milestone too.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

We had a similar problem with Eric. The Italians were quite puzzled whenever her handbag squeaked, every time she reached into it.

I really do want to live forever; either that or get my hands on a TARDIS so that I can travel to the future.




MedicatedMoo said...

I found myself grinning like a goofball reading this and seeing the terrific photos.

You may be fifty but you honestly look about forty!

The rubber chicken must be a 'Dave' thing because my younger brother is also a Dave and one year for his birthday I gave him a rubber chicken!

Happy belated birthday!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath and thanks,

You're not the first person to say that.

I just wish I WAS 40...




DelGal said...

Dearest PM

Congrats on the big 50, you guys looked like ya had a great time!

I keep teasing Mark (I think we really need to get groovy mysterious names for both of us, like you guys have, lol) that he'll be turning 50 before I turn a big number, and he's always quick to point out that he hangs out with even older folk, which of course makes me tease him more :)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lynette,

You are just a child.

Actually, Mark could have joined us in Rome but I think he was across the pond sampling the delights of Delaware.

Next time you come over to Europe, you should go there. It's a wonderful place.

A 50 year old Marky Mark - now there's a thought ...




drb said...

Very pleased you had such a fabulous time and celebrated your coming of age with great companies.

Don't know how I'll cope when I turn 50. When I turned 21, I was depressed - thinking that everything would be downhill from here. It is true, my happiest time of my life was when I was in school/uni - lots of money to spend, top of class, popular, skinny, not a slightest worry. Nonetheless, I had a huge party, urged on by my classmates - function room, DJ, disco lights, catering and all, more than 80 guests, no rellies or family were invited although dad foot the bill. When I turned 30, I was even more depressed, just dumped by my long-term bf, in a foreign country. But I had the biggest surprised of my life - my workmates threw me a huge surprise party!! I was comletely unaware of their preparation. They are the nicest bunch of people I knew.
When I turned 40, I decided that I should have another huge party to celebrate since I had achieved everything I wished for.
But, I am wary that I most likely be depressed again when I turn 50. Maybe I'll be glad if I look as young as you. :-)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb and thanks,

You'll be fine when you turn 50. I remember how depressed I was when I turned 40 and compared to that 50 was and is a breeze.