In 30 minutes I will be 49. There’s nothing remarkable in that, other than the memory of a mildly embarrassing post I wrote 5 years ago, when I was 44.
So here’s my 49 list. Simply to prove the man grows older, if not wiser.
This much I know
1. We tend to double our real age in our sleep. To get a heads up of how much time we’ve still got left. To do the stuff we want to do. To have the freedom to be the people we were meant to be. The maths doesn’t look so pretty for me these days.
2. I only have admiration for those who know what to tattoo on their body. And who have no fear of humming needles.
3. There has to be a way to stop further suffering for AC Milan. I could tolerate Berlusconi while he bank-rolled players like Kaka’ to the San Siro. I increasingly share the rage of the poor chap who found an alternative use for a plastic statue of the Duomo.
4. I’m running out of bands I want to watch. I don’t know if that’s a slur on the current state of music, or my reluctance to mix with crowds and warm beer. The person who is my music soul-mate lives on the other side of the world.
5. There is freedom and anarchy under the bonnet of our social technologies. Very few people understand that.
6. When in doubt, study. Like there’s no tomorrow.
7. It’s difficult for men and women to remain true soul mates. It’s not always possible to avoid being men and women.
8. Now I’ve been to Rio, I understand what saudade really means.
9. I can give up most habits. Except the one that involves pacing and waiting for freshly-brewed, black coffee.
10. Not having a salary can be surprisingly empowering. Despite there being no credible alternatives to our cruel capitalist society
11. My father has taught me that it is never too late to push your life in a totally new direction.
12. You can be a party-animal, even if you have nothing to say to anyone in a party.
13. Build on your strengths, get others to cover your weaknesses. Buckingham nailed it.
14. Cowards will always have problems looking you in the eye. Especially those who are in a position to cause you material damage.
15. Forget finding a real-life mentor. Just google one.
16 A credible, hassle-free alternative to shaving is bound to be as successful as shaving gel was.
17. Keeping your mouth shut becomes slightly easier as you get older. But you still get bloodied lips.
18. It’s easy to frustrate people if you speak and think in hyper-links.
19. There used to be a time when we were all innocent.
20. There is always beauty in curves. Irrespective of age, texture or location.
21. Rage against the machine would be a pretty good epitaph.
22. Great strategists are always outsiders. They always know when it’s time for the emperor to find a new set of clothes. A strategist should never try and be an emperor.
23. A tag cloud is pretty representative. Sometimes savagely so.
24. Being a parent means you can shamelessly worship in the church of Pixar.
25. Political and business tyrants have a shelf life. Surviving either is not for the faint-hearted.
26. Power corrupts the most well-meaning of people. Once you start to explore the layers of hegemony, things start to unravel quickly.
27. My country used to embarrass and intoxicate me in equal measures. Not any more.
28. Everyone needs to discover the poetry of Nick Drake, Jim Morrison, Pablo Neruda and Philip Larkin at some stage in life. Just discovering poetry would be a start.
29. There is no excuse for being ignorant if you have access to a computer with an Internet connection.
30. There is something mildly ironic in devoting time to academia, while the shadows of Wikipedia and Google Scholar continue to lengthen.
31. Whatever advice I dispense will never be as timely as sunscreen.
32. Getting older does not necessarily bring wisdom. It does bring a lot of deja vus, ghosts, yawns, raised eyebrows, giggles, ruffling of curls. Memories of platforms, shoulder pads and big hair. Tears. Salt and pepper.
33. PowerPoints with bullets should now be outlawed.
34. Sometimes, you have to accept that some people will just not like you, despite your best intentions. Move on.
35. It helps to have a little thick skin. It tends to come in limitless quantities in those born with a certain stock of social capital.
36. There are some who can remember that Old Spice used to be an aftershave for teenagers and their uncool Dads. No more.
37. What is cool and innovative today will be passée tomorrow. Sometimes we’re in too much of a hurry to embrace the new and discard the old. It is inevitable that the new is always more alluring.
38. Technology alone cannot change an island mindset. If you cannot totally relate to what’s outside your door, you either need to change it or escape. Change may be beyond one’s lifetime.
39. Regret needs to be dispatched to the darkness it needs to inhabit. We had no crystal ball. We never will.
40. All that stuff about life beginning at 40 and grey hairs making a man look more attractive is the stuff of folklore therapy. Treat it with contempt or the humour it deserves. Things break, skin wrinkles, the back really does ache more than it used to. And yet, we adapt.
41. Travel, fly, sail, swim, surf, escape. Get a bird’s eye view. Even if it’s only virtual. Virtual can sometimes break less hearts and banks.
42. Curiosity is not the domain of the young. There is an animated e-card from my 81 year-old father-in-law in my mailbox. Even he is hyper-linked.
43. There is much joy to be found in Radio 4 and Desert Island Discs.
44. Print may soon be dead. But I still love to cradle a book in my lap.
45. Someday, I’ll really write that book. You may even be in it.
46. If you’ve decided to make a child, you’re a role model whether you like it or not.
47. Everything we say online is public. The web means the end of forgetting. I continue to hope that the good online outweighs the bad. And that we’ll manage to find a way of managing what needs to remain private.
48. It’s still about being able to look at yourself in the mirror. And knowing you still haven’t sold out.