Landmarks. Every life has them, whether you recognise them as such at the time or not.
2015 brings one of those landmark birthdays my way, one ending in a -0.
The nonsense has started already. We arrived home from our festive sojourn in Scotland to the usual pile of mail with one bearing the local hospital’s postmark and ominously addressed to me.
It was an invitation for breast screening because, apparently, “Women aged 50 to 70 are invited to have breast screening every three years.”
I’M NOT BLOODY 50 YET, YOU KNOW!
Yelling at a letter is a pretty futile gesture, a pathetic rage against the dying of the light.
And I’m not even that bothered about the birthday anyway – I quite like getting old, achey hips aside, because with age comes experience and, dare I say it, wisdom.
So I’m using 50 as an excuse to do stuff I’ve either always wanted to do or stuff I would never do in a million years. So I’ve come up with my list of “50 things to do when I’m 50”, starting on the day of my actual birthday, April 9.
I’m still in compilation mode (and will post here when it’s ready), but I can categorically state there will be no piercings, no tattoos and nothing that makes me shake with fear, though I have finally agreed to ride pillion on Debbie’s motorbike (mammy, daddy, save me!)
To reassure everyone, nor will I be participating in the World Naked Bike Ride in Brighton which my mate Andy stupidly stuck on his 50 things list last summer.
The start of a new year is always a good time to take stock. Approaching a significant birthday is an even better reason to look back without regrets and forward with hope – where possible, of course.
I’m not sure what I thought I’d be doing when I was 50 (and I’m still not yet 50!) but it definitely didn’t involve being a professional dog walker.
I use the word professional because, well, I get paid to do it. I reverted to my amateur status over Christmas and New Year, occasionally walking Alfie and his cousins Penny and Morag, but pretty much leaving doggy duties to others.
Over Christmas a casual remark was made to me about if I was considering getting a “proper” job. It riled me then. It’s still riling me, even though I know it was said out of a complete lack of imagination or insight.
Yes, walking dogs is obviously not the “proper” job that a lot of people have long associated with me. But I still do the words thing and get paid for that, too. Is that not a proper job either because I do it from home, often in my PJs (mostly in my PJs) and remotely from a laptop?
In the 10 years since I had a proper job – you know, a staff one with a guaranteed monthly salary dropping into my bank account like clockwork (I do miss that!) – the world of work has changed radically.
Online is obviously a huge part of that, allowing folks to work remotely, along with much less savoury aspects of the new world order of employment, zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships etc.
Lots of us now do more than one job, usually out of necessity, but for the luckier ones (like me), it’s because we like the variety we get from doing different things, experiencing different things and interacting with different people.
I didn’t know when I left the Daily Record in December 2004 that it would be a landmark in my life. I took the plunge because my 40th birthday was approaching like an onrushing train and I knew, before it was too late, that I wanted to do different things, have experiences I’d never had before and enjoy a new sort of challenge.
Well, as my 50th hurtles my way at warp speed, I can safely say I’ve done all that.
So I’m very much looking forward to the next decade and hoping for more of the same, different things.
But not a proper job, please. I like my jammies too much.