Made it! Seventy
Ignore those exclamation marks. They may be required grammatically, but in
terms of underlying dramatic impact they are pointless: reaching the biblical
milepost of three score years and ten doesn’t count as any kind of achievement
these days. This generation’s seventy is
the equivalent of the previous generation’s fifty – or so people keep telling
me. And now I’m expected to go on to eighty, at least, and possibly well beyond.
Well, I don’t know about that.
I spent the birthday in the nicest or – if you take
the puritan view – the worst possible way: getting drunk with friends. One in particular, Scott, had flown in from New York for the
occasion. He tells me we went to bed at
5.45am. This was plain daft, at least in
practical terms, as I had to be up at eight for a date with another friend,
Peter, at Lord’s for the fourth day of the first test match of the season. But if one can’t be daft on one’s birthday,
when exactly is the best time?
As far as I’m concerned it was a perfect start to my
eighth decade: a bottle of Mr. Jameson’s best distillation, a substantial cigar,
the company of friends – about eighty of them – and a day at the cricket
(albeit in weather more in keeping with an October day at Twickenham).
I can’t on this occasion forego mentioning Martha, my beloved
wife of thirty-five years – without whom I might not have made it this far – and
not just for throwing a delightful bash at our house with her customary
thoughtful efficiency; she has been delightful company for nearly half of my
How lucky I’ve been to have met her, and how fortunate
to have produced Sara, a special daughter (encumbered as she may be with some
of her father’s less admirable behavioural traits).
How improbably lucky I’ve been, period.
Seventy years without doing a day’s work; seventy
years without experiencing anything remotely like the kind of family tragedies
one reads about daily in the papers; and, best of all, seventy years without a
day’s illness (excluding a couple of bouts of food poisoning and a few sessions
of self-inflicted misery). Emulating the
rest of my family, I’ve never even had a headache.
I dare say I’ve caused a few. For these I can only apologise.
A tiny, insistently recurring fear is that just as all
lucky streaks have to end, mine surely will too. I quickly dismiss such thoughts. I intend to live forever.
So far, so good.