“This is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world…”

Okay, today I turn 44. Which I still find quite hard to believe, frankly – I mean how the hell did that happen? One day you just suddenly realise you’re a lot older, but in your head you aren’t. My dear dad hits the big seven-oh early next year and he said the same once to me, that in your head you don’t feel that you are that age. In my head I probably stopped around my mid to late twenties. Sadly my body didn’t agree with my mind on that and the bastard got older, wider and decided it could do well without hair on my head but suddenly deciding at the same time it would grow it in other places that required regular grooming in order not to look like one of those mad older blokes who never do anything about it and end up with what looks like badgers for eyebrows and the brushes from those old shoeshine machines you used to see in public lavs in the 70s sticking out their nose and ears.

me & zag
(student era me, with long hair, posing with a very young Zag, the coolest cat there ever was, who used to walk us to the shops, followed us to the pub and invited himself in)


Made slightly worse by watching the Lemmy movie on BBC4 on Friday night into Saturday (my actual bday) morning. It gave me an urge to rewatch Decline of Western Civilisation Part 2 – the Metal Years, a fab rockumentary that takes in the excess and silliness of the 80s rock and metal scene. I used to have it on VHS ages ago, I think I taped it way back in late 80s or early 90s when one Christmas season the BBC had Heavy Metal Heaven on several late night sessions during the holidays, fronted (in more ways than one!) by Elvira, and this was a part of the season. At that time I had hair which ran to halfway down my back, my second hand, cracked, battered biker leather jacket (but distressed is always cool for a biker jacket), festooned with badges (at my grad ball I was presented with a special award for most badges on a jacket) and painted, my bandanas, my DMs, enjoying college, drink, music and hanging out most weekends at Madison’s Rock Club with my college chum Metal Mel (who had been backstage with just about everyone in rock and had the pics to prove it, she did write ups on them all), headbanging away and dancing our arses off on the floor with all the other regulars. Sadly my long hair is long gone and even Madison’s is long gone, now a bloody restaurant above the Playhouse in Edinburgh. And this now dying year of 2011 marks 20 bloody years since I chucked work to go back to college in my 20s and do my degree (and meet a lot of new folks, drink a massive amount and explore some, er, other stuff that was highly enjoyable too, best time of my life, but dammit, it can’t be 20 years ago, can it? Can it?)

And part of me now gets what Homer was wistfully complaining about in the Simpsons many years back now, in the episode that spoofed Lolipalooza, where he flashes back to his long haired youth, rocking out with Barney, then to his middle aged, balding, expanding waist self… And he says to Marge I used to rock and roll all day and party every night, now I am lucky if I can find half an hour a week in which to get funky. I thought it was funny play on the KISS lyrics at the time, but now, years later, I find myself empathising more with Homer in that long ago episode, back when the Simpsons was still funny and worth watching (the fact I recall when the Simpsons was funny,fresh and original also marks out my age, I suppose!). Of late I have had a huge urge to get myself a new leather biker jacket, the proper Brando style one with the diagonal zip. I wore one for years, all decorated, with the bandandas and DMs and long hair, but then I think would I suit it now or do I want it only for nostalgic reasons? The DMs and long hair are gone, the bandanas are still there though (practically my trademark), but would I carry it off now or look like a middle aged bloke trying to find youth again? Maybe it is just middle-aged nostalgia…

(putting on the Ritz, mid 90s, grad ball, looking sharp for a posh night out with my lovely chum Claire)

Ah well, I do still rock out when I can and fuck yeah, I’ll air guitar to my fave tracks when I damned well feel like it. And rather than going into depressing middle age rant about how bad modern life is compared to what I thought it would be in my 20s, here’s some of the things I loved earlier in my life which I still think are bloody brilliant and make my planet a better place:

rock and goddam roll, obviously, the Holy Trinity of Bass, Drums and Electric geetar, from Hendrix to Nirvanna, from the ostentatious like Queen to the stripped down of the Ramones.

Movies. From the sugary confections of Vicente Minnelli to the super-smart work of Chris Nolan, from Tom’n’Jerry cartoons of the 40s to the stylised shadows and light of German Expressionism and the French New Wave, and not forgetting my life-long favourites I rewatch every year or so like Casablanca, Blade Runner and my all time favourite, Cyrano De Bergerac. Cinema – light flutters in a large, dark room full of people and magic happens, pulling you away from the everyday world in a way watching a DVD will never replicate and it’s why I have been in the cinema seven times this month alone. The older I get, the more life looks dark, the more wonderful the cinema seems…

Books. Books, books, books. Poetry, short, modern, or ancient like the Iliad, books on science, history, architecture, photography, art, novels, comics, graphic novels. I have devoured them all for as long as I can recall, I was reading well before I was old enough to go to school and I never stopped and I never will, there are too many fascinating new writers and artists out there crafting amazing books that demand to be read and despite the poverty of pay in the book trade I am glad and proud that I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of those writers, even go drinking with more than a few of them, and to write about and recommend and promote good writing to people. I still get a kick out of it when someone tells me they didn’t even know about a book until I wrote about it and my writing style convinced them they had to try it. I suppose one of these days I should really write one of my own… One day… right now I am too busy reading them and writing about them.

So 44 today, on the final day of the year. I have decided since I am such a film-head that I hereby decree that this year shall be my Dirty Harry year. As in 44 magnum, do you feel lucky punk? And if you don’t like that then you have to ask yourself a question? Did I fire five shots or did I fire six? Well to tell you the truth in all the excitment I kinda lost count myself… But seeing as this is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and could blow your head clean off, you have to ask yourself one thing: do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Friday 30th clicked over past midnight into Saturday 31st and that meant I was now 44. I have rock music on, a bottle of bubbly just popped and guzzling it with chunks of Toblerone. Rock and goddam roll, motherfuckers!