Today is my birthday.
Which is usually reason for celebration.
But I’m not celebrating this year.
A discarded takeaway pizza box (which contrary to what my waistline might suggest, is not the norm Chez Proclaims) is perhaps the only visible sign that I’ve marked the occasion.
To be fair, it’s been quite a few years since I really pushed the boat out to celebrate my birthday. But I normally do a bit more to acknowledge the fact that I’ve survived another year on this planet.
And today is quite a big birthday.
Arguably the big birthday.
Today I turned 40.
Which is some kind of landmark age apparently.
It would be a lie to say I haven’t reflected on this a little over the last few weeks.
But turning 40 doesn’t really bother me.
I’m genuinely OK with it.
I don’t feel especially old.
I’m as fit and able as I’ve ever been.
This may, admittedly be because I’ve never been especially fit and able.
I probably haven’t achieved as much as I would have hoped I might have by the age of 40.
Nonetheless I’ve almost certainly achieved more than my feeble efforts have really ever deserved.
And really, life in general is pretty good. Better, in many ways than it’s ever been.
Obviously I speak from a personal perspective. It’s been a while since the events that dominate the news have made me feel anything other than apoplectic rage or inconsolable despair.
But in terms of being me, things are going rather well in general.
I am happily married to the mother of my eight month old daughter. I own a house that is not entirely decrepit, and I earn enough money from my job to keep the wolves from the door every month.
Not that there are many wolves in Berkshire.
There are quite possibly foxes.
Indeed the Fox and Hounds is a place I frequent fairly regularly.
It’s exactly the kind of establishment that would be ideal for celebrating one’s 40th birthday in.
But I’m not celebrating my birthday this year.
This is because, while in a general sense my life is far from lamentable, my immediate situation is rather less ideal.
For starters I had to work today.
On my birthday!
This may not seem like the greatest of hardships, but one of the main reasons I chose to work in the field of education was the high probability that my birthday would always fall within the Easter holidays. There are perhaps more worthy reasons for choosing to work in my profession. Making a difference to the lives of young people and all that. But for me it was all about the convenience of the holidays.
So it is always an affront when my birthday falls during term time. It just shouldn’t happen.
I perhaps could have lived with working today if I could have had tomorrow off.
But I have to go in then too!
Ok, once tomorrow is out of the way, I do have two weeks off to look forward to and, even though my birthday will be but a distant memory by then, that would normally be a reason to be cheerful.
Alas, a rare, though fairly prolonged, effort at self betterment has meant that the first weekend of the hols will be spent furiously typing up the several thousand words I still have left to complete on my MA dissertation, an interminable undertaking that has kept me from posting very much on these pages in recent times, and which has resulted in the kind of stress eating which might well have lead to a decline in my health that means making it to 40 is perhaps a minor miracle in itself.
Come Monday, pass or fail, my MA will be done and dusted. Which will be a good thing.
Actually, if I do fail, I will be granted another 12 months to rewrite the bloody thing, so it is pretty essential that I pass, because academia really needs to be out of my life.
Notwithstanding the fact that I work in education of course.
So I’ve had better birthdays all things considered.
Not that today has been a total write off.
Mrs Proclaims has showered me with a perfectly pitched selection of gifts that have moved and amused me in equal measure. She also provided me with my annual giant birthday cookie, which I have already set about with the kind of glutinous abandon that has become my modus operandi of late. It is delicious though.
My family, though a fair few miles away, have provided me with gifts and messages aplenty and I’m genuinely touched.
And my daughter, who has never previously featured in any of my prior birthdays, what with not having been born, has been utterly delightful. Aside from when she vomited on me at 5 am this morning. It was fortunately prior to my morning shower, but the odour remains on the sofa, which also suffered in the incident.
I think my favourite moment of today though, was the video message I received from my father via social media, a forum he has only recently discovered. As he wished me happy birthday with what can only be described as childish glee, I was very much reminded that age really is only a number.