So I'm too late... Just when I thought it was about time that the mandatory mid-life mayhem should be kicking in, I read in the press today that modern mid-life crises start in your mid-thirties and run till about your mid-forties. Tarnation! At the grand old age of 47, evidently I've missed my chance. When I share this tragic news with HunterGatherer, he mutters something that sounds very like "You should be flippin' grateful - every day is a crisis in my world," and wanders off to his polytunnel in the garden, no doubt to commune with his dying courgette plants. Hmm, so much for sympathy.
I half think of ringing Daughter No. 1 to proclaim my sadness at this lost phase of my life, but there would be little point. This evening - if I remember correctly -she is attending a champagne and chocolates reception with the Law Society. Not that D.No.1 is actually studying law, of course - she just figured out pretty quickly where the main action (especially action involving expensive fizzy alcohol and copious quantities of cocoa bean derivatives) takes place at Oxford and made sure she signed on the dotted line fast. Ah, to be young again... (or even to be in my mid-thirties - with a good few years left for a crisis!).
Son&Heir was in pensive mood as we drove the 30 minutes home from school in the dark tonight (did I mention that the nights are drawing in?). Apparently he'd been watching a particularly inspiring Commonwealth Games hockey match on TV during social time after tea, and was now bitterly ruing the broken wrist which currently prevents him from doing any more than coach the Juniors one-handed for the next few weeks. But he said something which made me think, namely that he'd rather play at the Commonwealth Games and/or the Olympics than be rich. Now, coming from a boy who is normally a typically materialistic, hedonistic teenager hellbent on accumulating fame and fortune in equal measure, his sudden volte-face took me somewhat by surprise.
And it got me thinking about what is really important in life, reminding me of a quote that I once read many years ago: "Life is nothing but a collection of memories - so get out there and start collecting." Back in those Halcyon days (or should that be daze?!) of my youth, I initially wondered what the writer meant. Yet the words stayed with me all the same, and with each passing year, their meaning has became ever clearer. For the older you get, the significance of the memories of the highs and lows of your life grows proportionately, and you learn to treasure recollections of great occasions such as wedding days, memorable achievements on the sporting field or in the workplace and - especially - simple, everyday events like a child's first steps or even a particular moment that marked a turning point in your life. There is, quite simply, no monetary value to be placed on such memories, and it made me somehow happy that he had come to this conclusion at the comparatively tender age of fifteen. I hope he holds on tight to his dream.
Meanwhile, down in the depths of Oxfordshire, his big sister certainly seems to be living hers. My faithful Blackberry was subject to a veritable barrage of MMS photos during the course of the day: photo of the view from her bedroom window in halls; photo of the student bedroom (complete with mandatory empty bottle of wine just sneaking into the photo in the bottom right-hand corner); photo of the amazing chocolate - ornately decorated with the College crest - which had apparently been served at the previous evening's academic dinner. What does one do at an academic dinner I wonder... spout Shakespeare during the starter, mull over Molière during the main course and dissect Dostoevsky over dessert perhaps? If Daughter No. 1 ever pauses long enough for me to ask her, perhaps I shall find out.