Tomorrow is my birthday.*

This means I have, somewhat remarkably, survived another year. And what a year.

Birthdays tend to usher in a little self-reflection. When this pic was taken on my birthday last year, I had no idea what the next 365 days would bring:

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Allow me a little review…

Wake up aged 43. Hair is falling out due to excessive bleaching. Face is dankish and dehydrated but holding up. Marriage less so. Drink about it. Buy an ever-increasing number of jumpers featuring cut-out slitty bits. Ditto sparkly choker necklaces. Eat excessive amounts of custard creams and wotsits. Jeans size reaches 18.

Work more. Write more. Stand up on stage a lot feeling very existy. Turn up on breakfast telly. Dye hair dark to remedy balding. Mood turns dark as a result but this helps with the writing of the dark memoir.

Develop crush on Jeremy Corbyn as he loses election but also somehow wins it. Begin drinking in bars with now 18-yr old daughter. Begin drinking at home at 6pm due to youngest’s OCD diagnosis. Begin to realise marriage is properly in trouble. Drink more about it. Work more about it. Hair begins to grow back. Jeans size dips to 14 (but only if buying from forgiving Tesco, oh how I ❤ Tesco). Prominent tooth falls out.

Marriage is decreed officially over. Smash face into tree. Move out. Eldest smashes moving to university. Youngest smashes his OCD. Loneliness smashes into me.

Reading stops; ditto sleeping, laughing. Smoking increases; ditto drinking, crying. Youngest starts behaving like Horrid Henry with severe depression. Eldest behaves like Courtney Love pretending to get a university education.

Tooth gets fixed. Hair grows. Work grows. Confidence grows. Marriage grows into something better now that it’s not marriage. Evenings grow into something better after being bought a smart TV by smart friends who care about me and my need to view bad late-night movies on ITV3.

Dancing happens. Cooking happens (I cooked a fennel, a FUCKING FENNEL, I tell you. TWICE). Reading happens. Writing, sleeping, dreaming and laughing all happen with increasing frequency. A new body-washing routine revolutionises mornings (it involves a mash-up combo of shower/bath…I’d have to take a pic to explain and nobody wants to see that except for my regular readers in India, hi guys!).

Wake up on All Hallow’s Eve 2017 and begin my final day of being 43 by reading an article entitled: Top Five Beauty Mistakes Older Women Make. Realise I make all the mistakes but the corrections are expensive and involve eating avocados, drinking more water, taking more exercise and becoming an insufferable dick-whack.**

Sit down at my very own kitchen table in my very own house. Have a fag and a coffee and think: ain’t it funny how some years just loll by with more of the same while others yank you up by your hair and drag you into newness?

I didn’t know 43 would be so extreme. And whilst I hope 44 brings me a bit more peace, I don’t want it to totally release its grip. My hair is stronger and longer now, it can take a little more dragging.

*Do let me know if you’d like my address so you can send me gifts wot support my key hobbies and continued dedication to looking several years older than my biological age.

**Dick-whack: is my favourite new swear, gifted to me by a fine, filthy-mouthed 6yr old. You’re never too old (or young) to learn a new profanity…

I shall end this birthday blog with a birthday wish; the same wish I spoke silently to myself on Sunday when Gwyneth and youngest presented me with candles rammed into a deliciously sticky pile of profiteroles:

“Dear empty universe who I know does not really exist to hear my begging requests but who I still ask for solutions and for many good things to happen to me which require absolutely no effort whatsoever on my part,

“Please, please let me begin to get what I really want in this new life of mine including becoming an incredibly successful and rich writer whose searing insights regularly feature on the Goodreads website which I promise to stop trawling and sharing quotes from on Facebook just as soon as you grant me these wishes.

“Please also let me somehow become astonishingly hot and dateable so that I may enjoy only the very best sex in the very best company my local Tinder region has to offer and please let not all of this company consist of pensioners.

“Please let me continue to smoke and drink at a rate befitting only an 18-year old or Tom Waits who I resemble in both face and voice more and more each day which I’m okay with for the most part, except for the whispy facial hair.

“And last but not least, dear universe, and in fact I want this more than anything else on my wish list, please, please let the year I am 44 be the year I finally make peace with all my failings and imperfections, perhaps even seeing that I may not be as failing and imperfect as I imagine, or at least no more than any other human who has been served some heavy shit-burgers in life and is just trying to eat them all up without dying of (broken) heart disease.

“Failing all that, could you just make it so Guy Garvey walks right into my life, takes me roughly by the hair and sings at me in those wondrous tones until my dying day? Thank you.”

Yes, by the end of this the candles had melted and mingled with the hot choccy sauce on those birthday profiteroles. But if we can’t take the time to acknowledge our deepest desires on our birthday, when can we?

P.s. Universe, I know you’re waiting to bring me Garvey on my actual birthday tomorrow. I’ll be mostly at work but then at home for the evening, waiting for him to ‘elbow’ his way into my life.

Still got it folks, almost 44 and still got it…