Growing up I remember my parents going to other people’s fortieths and thinking, ‘Wow, 40, that’s really old.’
Well, today I’m forty and finally believe what everybody has been telling me for the past five years. ‘Oggers, 40, it’s not that old.’
It’s just another day. Another door to be opened and stepped through. A door that says 40 on it instead of 20. Put the key in the lock, turn the key and glide on through into the 41st room, which today is Lyon. The place where I started this blog.
I like having birthdays in foreign places. It adds to the mystery and vagueness of the evening. Even though Lyon and France don’t feel foreign anymore. I’m acclimatising to the country even if it means becoming slightly French in the process.
For example, I feel draughts around my neck and sometimes need a scarf, even in spring. I eat my steak practically raw. I have developed a Gallic sigh accompanied by an exaggerated shrug of my shoulders. I have been caught dribbling when I eat. I shake my head violently when I don’t agree with something. I enjoy very intense, very slow political debate on the radio. I think French bureaucracy is necessary and good for the cause. I smell of garlic due to the sheer amount of it I eat. I was seen wearing a black polo neck to a restaurant. I was caught boiling a kettle by my girlfriend to warm some water to wash in because I couldn’t handle a cold shower when the boiler clapped out last week. In another life I took cold showers as a matter of course, as regularly as I ate meat pies.
But anyway, the good thing about this morning was that when I awoke I felt exactly the same as I did when I was twenty: I have the same ambitions and dreams, and look forward to the world everyday. Life is there for the taking. I’ve changed my job and place of living so often, I’ve forgotten where it all started. But it feels that what I’m doing is right because there is so much out there to see and do, and I simply have to see and do it all. And that takes time. Probably another forty years.
The French say, ‘I have forty years’ – J’ai quarante ans – which as I wrote this blog made perfect sense. I have forty years of experience – and maybe wisdom.
Philip ‘Oggers’ Ogley, 40.