It’s my birthday today (Forty Eight if you must ask) and when you’d lived the kind of life that has mainly featured escapades in Marbella and London that have involved epic late nights, enraged bouncers, annoyed bar tenders and long suffering girlfriends, that fact that I made it past 26 is a minor miracle.
As I thunder towards the big Five O the main change that I’ve noticed so far that I’m a classic case of the mind being willing but the body being weak,
In the 80s, I was able to party until the dawn broke over Ipanema Palace – a club that, like my youth in Marbella is now long gone – grab a couple of hours sleep and still be able to hit the beach at Tramps that afternoon. Now it takes an effort to crawl to the sofa, fumble for the remote and let something easy on the brain wash over me.
And if an evening of clubbing is enough to tire you out, don’t even think of any sporting activity. I’m an enthusiastic member of Marbella Rugby Club, where my enthusiasm used to get as far as single handidly trying to drain the bar of beer on match day.
Once, however, my old team from Richmond, “The Bulldogs” came over on tour and I was honour-bound to step fearlessly onto the pitch. Needless to say I was flattened several times, but the large amount of liquid that was consumed after the match and well into the night helped numb the pain.
The next day however, I found it difficult to move, and was the object of much mirth for my father, who gave up playing rugby after school and took up the much safer career as racing driver. The other problem with sport is that everyone over 34 is described as a veteran, whose legs are “not what they were” I’m still pleased with my legs, thank you, but in a subtle change of sporting options, I’ve found myself loitering around golf shops. After all, Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo are all in their 50s, so I’m a comparative youngster.
Another sad fact of life is the amount of money I spend as I get older. Granted when I was 17 we used to buy a crate of 24 San Miguels, drag it down to Puerto Banus and sit opposite Sinatra’s, but I remember going out with 2000 ptas in my pocket, and carousing through the Puerto Deportivo in Marbella, usually ending up in Joe’s Bar in Banus, and still having 500 ptas left to get me back to the family home in Nueva Andalucia, but now it seems that I can’t even break into a sweat for less than €200
In my twenties the cry “everyone back to mine” would result in half the bar getting takeouts and decamping back to someone’s villa to carry on the party. Sleeping arrangements were simple – you slept where you fell. At one memorable occasion we went back to a Hungarian foodie friend’s house, who insisted that we partake of her own her own flavoured vodkas. The next morning the garden resembled a crash site – bodies and furniture were spread over a large area and I woke up in the hedge. It wasn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last…
Of course, if you are crashing with friends who have children and arrive late and/or “over refreshed ” they are likely to extract a subtle revenge. Such as putting you on the sofa bed in the kiddies’ playroom thus ensuring that you are woken from your slumbers by a four-year-old jamming an eggie soldier in your ear while her two year-old brother expertly sets the DVD to full volume and blasts you with the first five minutes of Ice Age. At this point mammoths, sabre tooth tigers and the rest of the prehistoric herd are not the only thing that I wish were extinct and ”Wicked Uncle Giles” is quickly sent staggering towards the taxi rank.
Then of course, there is the small problem that you still think that you are 17. This can lead to some embarrassing, “oldest swinger in town moments” My classic came at the 20th anniversary of Comedia. As a young lounge lizard in the 80s I had, of course, been to the opening night. Standing at the bar, I was treating a young lady to my full smooze routine, when she remarked that she didn’t remember the opening of Comedia. “Yes” I said, flashing my best George Clooney grin “It was a pretty wild evening, wasn’t it?”
“No” she replied. “I don’t remember it because at the time I was three years old”
The crashing and burning sound after that reply was my youth flying out of the window…
Even worse is if your friends have 20-year-old nannies, au pairs or nieces. Then you find yourself desperately trying to appear a sort of hip, Ray Ban wearing Svengali like figure that has been there and done that. They, of course, think that you are a manically grinning weirdo who doesn’t know who The Ting Tings or Dizzie Rascal are, and keeps going on about how he used to go to the gym.
But with age comes wisdom, and today I was struck by the sage observation I’m finally turning into the kind of person my parents warned me about…