50 at 50….

Today is my 50th birthday – and as you can imagine that has meant a lot of reflection, a lot of retrospection, and a fair amount of contemplation. Lots of interesting ideas came, themes, thoughts… but mostly, my feeling right now is one of general happiness and wonder. Life can be pretty hideous at times – but it can be wonderful too, and the thing that seems to make it wonderful to me is often random, seemingly unconnected stuff. The best things that have happened to me have very often – almost always – been unpredictable, chaotic, even sometimes dangerous.

A few things I do know. I know that you don’t have to lose your ideals as you grow older. I know that you don’t have to become more conservative as you grow older. I know that you don’t have to become more selfish as you grow older. I know that you don’t have to get grumpier as you get older. I know that you don’t have to get more afraid as you get older. I know that you don’t have to stop loving life, loving people, and loving things as you get older. I love things because I love them – not really for any rational reasons, but just because I love them. Yes, that means family and friends, but that’s not for here or for now. Here and now, I just want to set down a few things – well, 50 things, because I like numbers (!) – that make me smile, and that in some ways make me what I am.

Everything here matters to me in some way – and has some connection to what it feels to me to be 50, to be alive, to be here. This is not a carefully calculated list – making sure there are no omissions, or that everything is in balance – but mine has not been a carefully calculated life. Very much the opposite – successful long term plans have been very much the exception, not the rule. Anyway, in the unlikely event you’re interested, here they are, in no particular order – or rather, in the random order that they came to my mind.

1 Bacon

2 Studio Ghibli


3 Wolves


4 Wolves


5 Protests

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 15.19.19

6 Marmite


7 Romania


8 Snow Leopards


9 Cambridge


10 Fatherhood

11 Marvin Gaye


12 Socialism


13 Travelling


14 The Princess Bride


15 Twitter


16 Realising I’m wrong about something

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 07.51.35

17 Multiculturalism


18 Dumplings


19 The Clash


20 Train journeys


21 Law


22 Cold, clear days

cold clear day

23 Trees

24 Sushi


25 Bringing Up Baby


26 Computers

old mac

27 Children’s films


28 Parodies

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 07.38.14

29 Regina Spektor


30 Mathematics


31 Indigo snakes

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

32 Boston Legal


33 Gene Wolfe


34 Poetry


35 Surprises


36 Dartmoor


37 Axolotls


38 Castles

Castle 2

39 Croquet


40 Judge Dredd


41 Social Justice


42 Bridge


43 Cooking


44 Tea


45 Roast dinners

Roast beef

46 Ancient history

47 Beethoven


48 Steve Bull

Steve Bull

49 Writing


50 Fairy Tales

Fairy tale


Well, that’s me for now. Congratulations for reaching this far – it’s been a bit of a trek. I hope I keep trekking a lot longer.

22 thoughts on “50 at 50….

  1. Bully! Not heard that name for a long time! Had a boyfriend from Wolverhampton at university so takes me back. And now going to google Gene Wolfe – not heard of him. Lovely affirmations & list! Happy birthday!

    1. Bully’s almost my age – I followed his career from the very start! Gene Wolfe’s a bit of an acquired taste, and I know a lot of people really don’t like him, but there’s something about how he writes that really gets me.

  2. Happy birthday young man.
    I do believe you are also a good man with values that are sadly lacking in a large part of our society today.
    I hope you have a great day.

  3. Happy Birthday!
    Thank you for the many interesting and thought provoking words.
    I hope you had bacon for breakfast!

  4. Happy 50! Surprised how many on the list I could endorse, and how few left me completely cold (mainly the footie).

    I’m 54 and a quarter, and that seems to be involving a fair amount of intro- and retrospection, mostly of the ‘what did I do wrong?’ variety (subheadings: WDIDW that I can do anything about, WDIDW that I would want to do anything about, W are people actually telling me that IDW and have I got good reasons for not listening, what if I have got good reasons for not listening… and so inconclusively on). On the bright side, all this is career stuff. I was marvelling at how smoothly and straightforwardly a colleague’s cv seemed to have progressed, when I remembered that this same period had included emigration and single parenthood. I’m on my third career – and it’s not exactly flourishing, as you can tell – but I’m living where I lived 25 years ago, and married to the woman who was my first serious girlfriend at university. Perhaps people make as much chaos in their lives as they can handle, but no more.

    1. I’m actually living in the place I was born – just a few hundred yards from the house I was brought up in – but I was away from it for more than 25 years! I did wonder how many people the footie would leave cold… but I couldn’t possibly leave it out. It’s important to me. 🙂

  5. Feliz cumpleaños 🙂
    I am way older than you! grin
    Aside from the ‘tree’ and the rost bif…you have much to look forward to Paul.You wait…it gets better coz ya don’t give a shit too much wot the world thinks as you age..smile and it’s good being called a wierdo!
    Cuídate hombre 😉

  6. A Happy (albeit belated) birthday wish from me Paul.

    I so recognise the reflection of 50 (almost 3 years ago) and in my case in gets stronger and strangely better, I’ve learnt more in the past 33 months than since childhood through this – hoping it is the same for you

    Jayne xxx

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