I TURNED 48 this month and when you’ve lived the kind of life I have – with escapades in Marbella and London involving epic late nights, enraged bouncers, annoyed bartenders and long-suffering girlfriends – it’s a minor miracle that I made it past 26. But it caused me to reflect on my innings thus far.
The main change I’ve noticed is that I’ve become the classic case of the mind still being willing but the body 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 me out, don’t even think of any sporting activity. The main 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 2,000 pesetas in my pocket, carousing through the Puerto Deportivo in Marbella, usually ending up in Joe’s Bar in Banus, and still having 500 pesetas left to get me back to the family home in Nueva Andalucia. Now it seems that I can’t even break into a sweat for less than €200.
Also, all of my friends are getting married and are having babies.
This, of course, makes crashing over at pals’ houses more than a little difficult.
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 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 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 schmooze 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 who’s been there and done that. They, of course, think that you are a manically grinning weirdo who doesn’t know who Dizzie Rascal is, and keeps going on about how he used to go to the gym.
But with age comes wisdom and, as I head towards 50 I am struck by the sage observation that I’m finally turning into the kind of person my parents warned me about…