Age and Guile

Annie Clarkson has written a kind of fin de siècle post that’s got me thinking. Ten years ago I was an eighteen-year-old undergraduate, no more or less foolish than most eighteen-year-old undergraduates. (From Houellebecq: ‘Humanity in all its forms was entering the third millennium: for my part, I had pretty much blown my entrance.’) Since then, I have changed a little, inside and out, but not much. We don’t change as much as we think: what we do is accumulate. As Irvine Welsh said, we either become more ourselves or less ourselves.

Rather, I feel that time has changed around me. When you’re a kid, the summers just drag, not only in a bad way. As you age, time speeds up. The months and years shutter past like the windows on a speeding train as you see it from the platform. I have spoken to other people about this and they feel it too. From this perspective, the human lifespan seems like it’s over in the blink of an eye – which of course it is.

My pretty pony has done some running over the years, years which I remember as a chaotic carnival ride through which memorable faces and sights can be occasionally discerned. Three cities, two degrees, two breakdowns, a ton of booze, falling in and out of love and work, writing constantly – that’s how I remember the 2000s. Throughout the decade I’ve been a lucky man and a survivor who has been privileged to enjoy some unique experiences and learn a little and meet some interesting people. And yet sometimes it’s like I’ve spent the last ten years fighting to stay ahead of the thing in Stephen Dobyns’s ‘Pursuit’: ‘Rushing blindly down the path, stumbling, struck in the face by sticks; the other ever closer, not really hurrying or out of breath, teasing its kill.’

Adrian Mole-style, I have been thinking about resolutions. I was going to make a list, but they all merge into one. For the past couple of months I’ve been living in Levenshulme, going to work at JLB Credit on the ten-minute train and going out in Fallowfield, Withington or Chorlton. I need to get out of my South Manchester comfort zone. So resolutions for this year are all about travel – down to London, eventually working up to getting on a plane. New York still terrifies me every time I think about it but these things are never as bad as you imagine. I have an ambition, before I die, to travel around every state in the US. (Sssh – it is a secret.)

For some reason, getting older doesn’t scare me. Instinctively I feel that as long as I’m able to read, write, and enjoy a few beers and a bottle of red, I will, fundamentally, be alright, that there will be white horses and pretty ladies at my door. I have no plans to wind up the blog: in fact you can look forward to various Manchester scenescapes as I have resolved to take my new digicamera on my wanderings.

So, whether you’ve recently joined us, or been here from the beginning of this tale, feel free to come along a little further, as I go out into the world with my stash of guarded affectation, my turbocharged arrogance, my slightly damaged charm.

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