So today is the last day of Not Being 40 and I have marked this special occasion by walking in the park with C and Tricky, eating leftover pumpkin soup, gargling with ti-tree oil and water to try and make my viral ridden throat fit for conversation, and having a nap because I am an older lady now and such things are right and proper. Also because C has arranged a special posh dinner out tonight and I don't want to be tired.
And of course a certain special quiet time of the day was dedicated to reading through Part 2 of Thus Spake Zarathustra (ie. on the toilet). If it wasn't for the upcoming meeting with the other six playwrights on Tuesday night I could happily dedicate all my Special Quiet Time to reading more of Mr N's marvellous words but I simply cannot produce enough poo between now and then to get through the whole of Part 2 and so I foresee much of Monday and Tuesday being dedicated to Philosphy. (Sunday obviously being spoken for.)
I also read through some of my old notebooks which is always cringeworthy and sometimes quite illuminating. (Dare I compare it to a certain prophet baring cupcakes? No, not really.)
In one book I write about a trip to Spain with C, staying with a couple of actors (she was Australian, he was French, they met when she did a play in Paris oo la la etc). This couple were incredibly poor, living on theatre gigs and translation jobs and him being a waiter on a boat restaurant, but his stepfather was filthy rich. He owned this beautiful villa on the Mediterranean coast and so we had, all four, flown there (them from Paris, us from London) for a week together.
They lived the most extraordinary bohemian lifestyle, I remember, in a tiny one bedroom flat in Montmartre, overlooking cobblestone streets and growing blue geraniums in their windowbox (everyone else grew red ones), all their friends were actors or painters, they had a transvestite prostitute as their concierge and they lived on cigarettes, coffee and wine and they were passionately in love.
I wrote about one long game on the huge old baby-fut (foozball) table at the villa, with rows of leaden men in faded red painted jerseys (goalies in yellow) heavy wooden handles spinning frantically and the blip bling blam of the ball as it pinged into place. In between the pings are snatches of our experiences in Europe (this was a six week long trip) like leaving Edinburgh after the festival and hearing the news that Princess Di was dead and then listening to snatches of Elvis and reports over and over all that long drive back to London. I could hear their voices shouting excited ly as I read on, the swearing, the taunting, the laughter of the game.
It was a fantastic week of wine and games and talk and bright pink blossoms and shouting at the moon and walks along the beach, and reading about that week today I thought about how, years later, after two babies in that wee one bedroom flat, still living on not very much, it all finally fell apart and that dream was over.
And I went on to read about more trips, more people, more experiences, some of which I felt the resonance or the irony or the satisfaction that comes from looking back.
I spent my 30th birthday in a cabin in Tasmania.
It wasn't a rustic log type cabin out in the wilderness it was a prefab thing that was built in the grounds of a pub in a very small very dull town in the middle of nowhere whose heyday was sometime in the 1800s. (This would have been fine except a few whopping great bushfires had completely flattened the place and it was rebuilt quickly and cheaply in the 1970s, an era well known for its marvellous architecture. ) Also it was fucking freezing of course.
I remember having a bit of a mini crisis as 30 approached and I think one of the main reasons was that we were so isolated, no friends or family, although on the plus side it was the work of a moment to nip across the yard for a beer.
Schmutzie whom I need not link to as you will find her in the list opposite is doing something very beautriful for her 40th year, writing about people who have touched her life, one for each day of this year. I thought about doing the same but maybe something different will present itself. After all, the end of not being 40 starts tomorrow really, when I am 40, so I still have a few hours to think something up. Some way of using my writing to acknowledge the passing of those years. When I whinged about being 39 for only a few days more to one of my playwright friends, H, she said that the years with 0 or 1 or 2 are always good, it doesn't matter about the digit before...it's those 8s and 9s that make you fret about what you've achieved or not. So actually, 40 is a fresh start.
I'm on for that.
And so now, while my husband takes my baby for a walk along the beach, in an attempt to exhaust him before the babysitter arrives, I am going to do my nails and pick my dress and get ready to say goodbye to what went before and hello to what comes next. With my friends. And my family.
And with my darling C who I hope will be planning my suprise 80th another 40 years hence.